Handicapping: Mr. Muckraker, Ms. COO, Ms. IntelOfficer, Mr. Natl Guard, Mr. Entrepreneur, Ms. Chem Engineer, Ms. Teacher, Mr. Pilot

woman at work

Ms. Chemical Engineer


  • 760 GMAT (50Q/41V/8IR/6AWA)
  • 3.14 GPA (My father passed away freshman year, I was academically dismissed and out of school for a year before re-enrolling, writing most of my essays about this period of growth)
  • Undergraduate degree in chemistry from a top 30 university
  • 3.73 GPA
  • Master’s degree from same university in chemical engineering
  • Work experience includes four years as a control systems engineer/programmer at a major company, writing the code that automates manufacturing processes and optimizing them
  • “I work as a contractor at an unknown company with big name pharma and chemical companies”
  • Extracurricular involvement as a mentor to girls trying to go into STEM, a mentor to at-risk teenage girl, a basketball referee, a foster dog owner; also write a blog on cooking and baking and makeup and style; do online math and science tutorin
  • Goal: To go into consulting and ultimately obtain a leadership role at a pharma company
  • “I want to combine my technical experience in actual manufacturing operations with business knowledge to optimize things top down and reintroduce an emphasis on innovation”
  • 28-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%

Wharton: 40%+

Northwestern: 40% to 50%

Michigan: 50%+

MIT: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: You have nothing to worry about. You’re a solid applicant to an elite MBA program. The schools will overlook your bad grades that first year. Ultimately, the issue is what they think of your company and your work. You really need to make this as clear as possible. I would not present it exactly the way you did.

It’s OK that you can code (well, actually more than OK; these days that is real good), but you should not default to that being all you have done in the past four years. That can’t be your entire work history. You need to work in some jive about being the bridge between the contractor and the big pharma company, and getting to know and work with the different cultures. You should also get the kind of recommendations to highlight that, one from the contractor and one from the pharma company.

The rest of your profile is real solid. Being female, having a 760 GMAT and a STEM background is a great base to get you into one of the world’s best business schools.

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