Your Chances Of Getting In

Mr. Unemployed


  • 760 GMAT
  • 3.85 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business administration and management from Bocconi University in Italy
  • 3.6 GPA (master’s)
  • Graduate degree in finance from Bocconi
  • Work experience includes one and one-half years as an equity research analyst for Deutsche Bank in Milan and eight months for KPMG financial services audit, also in Milan; while at Deutsche worked weekends as a waiter in a restaurant
  • Quit KPMG job in May of 2012 “because I wanted to study toward the CFA and an MBA and, frankly, I was sick of it”
  • Goal: To join a major consulting firm and specialize in clean technologies; longer term, hopes to start his own advisory firm and focus on renewable energy and clean tech
  • 26-year-old white male from Italy

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10% to 15%

MIT: 15%

Columbia: 10% to 20%

Stanford: 5%

Berkeley: 20% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: Let me get this right: high grades from leading Italian business programs (both college and masters degrees), a 760 GMAT, an equity trader at DB in Milan and then 8 months in audit at KMPG also in Milan, and then you quit that in May 2012.

Dude, that was a real mistake. Business schools don’t like unemployed people, and certainly if you are applying for next year (versus later rounds this year) people who have been unemployed for a long time. You really need to get a job, ANY job. That would really help.

If you asked me to do this analysis while you were still at KMPG, I would say your chances at HBS were so-so (lively background but trading and audit not totally up HBS alley). At Wharton and MIT, I’d say your odds were OK-ish (both of those places like big GMATs and don’t punish people for trading careers vs. HBS and Stanford ). And at Columbia and Berk, I’d say you were real solid.

Without a job, man, HBS, Stanford, Wharton and MIT are probably  off the table, Columbia is long shot, and Berk won’t be easy. Also, not sure when you plan to apply but international kids should really apply Round 1 or Round 2 at the latest. Round 3 is tuff for everyone, you are NOT a typical off-the-grid Round 3 applicant, and being Round 3 and International is near suicide for perceived or real visa problems.

If you apply Round 2 and don’t get in, get a job and apply Round 1 next year.

OK, here is where I have real problems, you say,

“GOAL: short term join a major consulting firm and specialize in clean technologies. Medium term: start my own advisory firm and focus on renewable energies and clean technologies.”

Hey Pisan!, you may in fact join a consulting firm. They like big GMATs, but where is this “clean tech” mumbo-jumbo coming from. You need to play off your finance background and say you want to be a financial consultant. U.S. business school adcoms are a frigid and humorless bunch when it comes to careers. They like folks to keep doing what they have been doing, or to make tiny, tiny transitions. They don’t like unemployed Milanos who have been sitting in cafes for 14 months throwing up nutty ideas about clean tech amid a tiny crowded table of espresso cups and Gualoises smoke. You really need a job and some less romantic ideas about your future. If you can quickly rejoin a Big-4 accounting firm or get a job with a consulting firm, things begin to look much brighter.

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