Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Medical Sales


  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.15 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in molecular biology from UC-Berkeley with minor in sustainability
  • Work experience includes two years in sales for a medical device company in Silicon Valley (with promotion in six months that would usually take three years) and internships as a researcher at UCSF Medical Center and in sports medicine at UC-Berkeley; co-founded a tech startup in college that was eventually shut down by a regulatory agency
  • Extracurricular involvement as a Division One football player, chosen as director of largest non-profit on campus helping to mentor more than 400 inner-city elementary students, founder of fraternity that raised $2 million in four years; taught an English class for 50 UC-Berkeley students
  • “On the weekends, I have a non-profit coaching company that helps high school football players get recruited for college scholarships”
  • Goal: To transition into consulting for life science and biotech companies; longer term to either start his own bio/healthcare company or do venture capital in that industry
  • Fluent in English and Spanish
  • 24-year-old Hispanic male, first generation college graduate

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%

Wharton: 30%

Stanford: 20%

MIT: 30%

Chicago: 30% to 40%

Berkeley: 40%+

Michigan: 50%+

Northwestern: 40%+

Dartmouth: 35%

Yale: 40%+

Cornell: 50%+

New York: 50%+

Virginia: 50%+

Duke: 50%+

UCLA: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmm, lots to like, perhaps too much?, but if you really did teach an English class at Berk with 50 undergrads, while an undergrad yourself, and played D-1 football, and had your tech start-up shut down by the  government (ahem, for creating “bio” stuff without the proper licenses?? I hope not) and you were as well a researcher at UCSF and mentored 400 inner city kids and lots more, well. I’m impressed.

I am also assuming you are a U.S. citizen and have Hispanic bona fides enough so that schools can report you to another government agency, the one that keeps track of minority enrollment at colleges and universities, which is the kind of government list you want to be on, unlike the last one you appeared on, which shut down your startup.

Phew, now that we got that out of the way, we got a “certified” Hispanic 24-year-old male, 720 GMAT, with a 3.15 in Molecular Bio at Berk  (don’t know for sure, but does not sound like gut city as a major, unlike your minor in “sustainability” but correct me if I am wrong, when I went to college kids majored in, oh, French) who has been working for a growing (2x in last year) medical device company with rapid promotions (unverified claim of current title after 6 months which often takes “over” three years to accomplish.)

Goals are in-line, especially short-term :  Consulting for life-science and biotech companies. Schools love consulting futures, especially when stated by Hispanic guys with 720 GMATs (some consulting firms ask for GMATs and want to see something close to 720, so you are rock solid on that score).

As to long run: Bio/Healthcare VC or start my own Bio/Healthcare company. Hmmmmm, not really all that important, since a long way off, but going to VC from consulting (versus banking or PE) is a stretch although it could happen in Bio/healthcare, where things are loosey-goosey and you have a background. Starting a company seems also mildly a reach since you are in sales/consulting and not inventing/research but I’m sure it has happened.

Drum role please……………………………

If H/S/W believes all this, and if you can present it in some, aw shucks, humble way, and have your rec writers do all the heavy bragging, you certainly have a chance at those places. For one thing, Hispanic males with 720 GMATs, not to mention all the rest, are hard to find, and beyond that, you got a lot of science cred, well, for a business guy interested in consulting, versus a future doctor.

The trick at those places is to get this upchuck of accomplishments into some neat package (OK to spill at Poets&Quants, but come app time, you really need to get your business game-face on as to how you present all this).  A lot will depend on what those schools think of your current employer and your many rapid promotions, and what exactly you do under the ‘sales’ rubric. As often noted here, the more selective the job and the company, and the more well known, the better. That is the real UNKNOWN in this story.

It would help as well if GMATs were split close to 80 percent on each side. Oddly, Wharton may be the most skeptical of this profile because, well, HBS and Stanford like to believe in magic, since that is what they are mostly selling anyway. It would help at H and S if you could somehow create some feel-good bridge (it can be made out of sugar and paper mache) between the medical and ‘guy from the hood’ stories in your profile. Try to work in stories and aspirations to be a leader in healthcare who wants to work with underserved groups, blah, blah. That could push you over the top.

Your profile write-up seems a bit “schizo” with Po’Boy stuff in one column and Science-Jackpot stuff in another. Feel free to earn that fortune and move to a gated community, but I am talking about the way to present yourself to an adcom.

Other schools you mention, Sloan and Columbia? Like Wharton, they are mildly skeptical of over-stuffed types like you (with low-ish GPAs), but always willing to give an Hispanic male with a 720 GMAT a close look. Just tone it down, add community links, and sound reasonable.

Haas, Ross, Yale, Kellogg, Tuck–reasonable choices with good odds, assuming a sober and thoughtful presentation. You could drop Tuck and Yale, med-tech not their super things, and both are small-ish.

Johnson, Stern, Darden, Fuqua, Anderson; you called these “dialed” which is my kind of lingo, but not much in this world is so. If you do a good job of convincing them that you want to attend, and you soberize your approach, chances are real good.

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