Expert Articles

Common MBA Application Mistakes - Finance Professionals (Part 2)

Categories : MBA Application

By Caryn Altman
Former Admissions Officer, Kellogg School of Management
Senior Consultant, Stacy Blackman Consulting

10 Common MBA Application Mistakes made by Finance Professionals
(Mistakes 4-7)

As an MBA applicant with a background in finance, you’re no doubt wondering how to stand out from your equally impressive peers. No matter how remarkable your pedigree, the truth is that no business school wants a class filled with individuals from only one particular background.  

As we pointed out last month in the first part of the Top 10 list of common MBA application mistakes,
there’s a right way and a wrong way to attract the admission committee’s attention.

Let’s dive deeper into what finance professionals should avoid, and what makes for a successful MBA application.

Mistake #4:Failing to leverage your interests outside of work

While most of your peers will have similar work examples, you are the only one with your...

Applying for an MBA after business has failed

MBA for Failed EntrepreneursApplying for an MBA after your business has gone bankrupt does not have to be a weakness. Business schools appreciate innovation and entrepreneurship. The experience of starting and running your own company can be an interesting perspective you can bring to enrich the MBA program. Even the lessons learned from the failed venture can be worthwhile as well. There are some key questions on the minds of the admission boards when evaluating an entrepreneur whose business has failed.

First, they will evaluate the scope of the business (is this someone tinkering with a hobby or is this a real venture?) Then they will assess what you achieved (did you create a product that is being patented/raise funds from investors to expand the business or did the business not take off in the first place?) And finally, they will investigate why the business failed and the lessons you learned from the bankruptcy (are there holes in your skill set that you need to strengthen or did you make glaring mistakes that raise questions about your judgment?)

In fact, you can make a strong case for the need for...

Common MBA Application Mistakes made by Finance Professionals (Part 1)

Categories : MBA Application

Finance Professional MBA ApplicationBy Caryn Altman
Former Admissions Officer, Kellogg School of Management
Senior Consultant, Stacy Blackman Consulting

This is the first part of a three-part series: Common MBA Application Mistakes made by Finance Professionals

Surprised to hear that MBA applicants from finance make up the largest percentage of the incoming classes at many of the top business schools?

I didn’t think so.

Several firms require the MBA for top-level positions, and finance industries feed heavily into the most competitive programs. At the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, for example, 45% of the Class of 2018 has previously worked in finance, followed by 36% of the entering class at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and 27% at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

While other applicants will have to work hard to demonstrate that they can handle classes such as finance, accounting, and statistics, if you hail from finance, this box...

Interview with Kavita Singh(Columbia MBA Alumnus)

F1GMAT: Tell us a little bit about yourself

Kavita Singh: I have grown up and lived all over the world: Calcutta, Dubai, Delhi, Oxford, London and New York. It was a great experience and has shaped who I am quite fundamentally.

I am extremely passionate about innovation, and have spent my entire career in new product and new business development. I was lucky to have discovered my passion early on in my career and realized that as long as you follow what you are passionate about, you are much more likely to be successful in whatever you do. It also made me realize that as your interests develop, you should ensure you let both you and your career evolve with it. We now have the opportunity to make multiple career shifts in our lives, but the common link between those shifts should be what you are most passionate about. I have worked across several different industries – confectionary, personal care, healthcare and education -  but the common thread across all of those was innovation.

I have found that an MBA lets you make those career shifts and changes because it helps...

How much Jargon is Allowed for MBA Applicants from IT Background?

Advice for IT Applicants MBA AdmissionsQ) How should candidates from Information Technology background approach MBA Application Essays, when the word limit is 500 words. Most “What I did”, require offering some context. How much jargon is allowed? How evenly should the technologist cover the “How,” “Why,” “What” aspect of the project for the Essay?

Stacy Blackman: We often field questions from clients working in Information Technology about how best to frame their work experiences within a 500-word MBA application essay, especially since the technologist often believes it necessary to provide meaningful context when describing the “What I did” aspect of the essay question.  
The truth is, business schools don’t really care whether you can code in Java or possess multiple certifications in Oracle, Linux, or Cloud+. The admissions committee doesn’t even need to know those aspects when reading about your technical projects, and getting bogged down in such details is the number one mistake that engineers applying to business school often make.

When describing a technical project, try to sum up the essence of the project in a non-technical way in one to two sentences.  Share your...

How to write an MBA Application resume

MBA Application Resume FormatWhat should my MBA application resume look like? With the launch of the 2016-2017 MBA admissions season, this is a critical question applicants around the world will be asking themselves over the next 6-8 months. The good news is the answer is simple: your resume should be a forward-thinking advertisement that markets your strengths. Your essays should elaborate the strengths. The execution of that simple design, however, comes with a number of important caveats:

Structure & Format

1. Subheadings should be as follows: work experience, education, and additional.  Objective is an outmoded practice still en vogue with some resume-writing services; however, it is not the standard of top MBA programs or elite corporate recruiting.

2. Applicants with ...

How to study for the GMAT in Two Weeks?

Categories : GMAT Study Plan

GMAT Two Weeks Study PlanKnewton: Let us start by saying "Try not to prepare for your GMAT in 2 Weeks". Two weeks is not enough time to master the topics or the test taking strategies (Read GMAT One Month Study Plan and GMAT Three Month Study Plan) But circumstances like a B-School Deadline might force you to cram for the test in two weeks. Follow this efficient GMAT Study Plan:

Day 1 – Diagnosis: Take a practice test. This will likely be your one and only assessment. If you score evenly on both sections, then you will need a more comprehensive study plan. If you ace verbal but bomb the quant, then you know to focus your attention there.

Days 2 to 4 – Prime the Pump: After you take an official practice test,  spend the next few days going through as many practice problems as possible. If you have an Official Guide, make certain you read the explanations for all of the questions you answer incorrectly. Try to focus...

Too old for an MBA?

Categories : MBA, Too old

MBA Too OldF1GMAT: Stacy, you have written about this topic in 2005 but to refresh our memory, what advice would you give an MBA candidate who is much older than the average class? What are some of the points that the candidate should keep in mind while writing an essay? Which age group has the least probability of getting into a premier Business School?
Stacy Blackman:  Bottom line, it can be challenging for an “older” applicant to be admitted into a top business school.  In the MBA world, older means over 30.  Is this some sort of arbitrary age discrimination?  Not really.  Business schools want to admit people who will legitimately benefit from the experience, who will do well in recruiting and who show potential to succeed.  It can be difficult to meet these criteria when you are older than the average student.

Let’s examine all of these issues more closely.


MBA Admissions - Importance of Extracurriculars and Community Service

Categories : Community Service

Q) I've read that extra-curricular activities (ie. leadership via community involvement) is an important part of the assessment. As a consultant/auditor I have little time for activities outside of work, however I have good leadership experience of many teams in the work environment. Could you comment about the weight placed on community involvement in the application process? – Jay

Stacy Blackman:

Hi Jay,

Community involvement is very important to the application process because MBA programs pride themselves in training future leaders, not just educating a bunch of people who know how to calculate an IRR. They look for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them.

Although some younger candidates feel that even though they have not prioritized “extracurricular” activities early in their careers, they will definitely focus on these activities once they are more established. However, typically the patterns we establish toward community activities early in our careers remain...

Is working for Blue Chip Firms really important for MBA Admissions?

Categories : MBA Admission Tips

Blue Chip Firms MBA AdmissionsIs working for Blue Chip Firms really important for MBA Admissions?

You might have often heard of comments like "Unless you have worked in a Blue Chip Firm, you are never going to get into a top business school"

Next time when you hear someone giving comments like that smile politely, change the subject or if the bad advice continues, find the nearest exit.  While many b-school students have worked at the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citibank, the fact of the matter is that big companies employ a lot of ambitious people, and of those, there are a fair number of Ivy League MBA applicants. By the same token, you'll find a lot of Fortune 500 veterans in MBA programs. But the numbers alone don't mean anything in terms of admissions.

"What I would emphasize is that many times schools really like to see candidates from smaller companies, depending on their roles. And I emphasize roles," says Kent Harrill, MBA, a senior admissions adviser. While blue chip experience can give your application an edge because...