Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Ms. Pre-Med, Mr. Ad Agency, Ms. Silicon Valley, Mr. General Motors, Mr. Fortune 50

woman in tech

Ms. Silicon Valley

  • 730 GMAT (49Q/39V) (on third try)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a Canadian university best known for engineering
  • Work experience includes two years with a top tech Silicon Valley company with one promotion; also six four-month-long internships in major tech companies, the last two of which resulted in full-time job offers
  • Extracurricular involvement as the organizer for a local chapter of a “Women In Tech” empowering program and a female tech maker’s conference; mentor to female students transitioning into STEM courses during university years
  • Goal: To gain a leadership role in a leading tech company or to lead her own tech startup
  • 25-year-old female software engineer, immigrated from Southeast Asia and now a Canadian citizen

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%

Stanford: 20%

Wharton: 30% to 40%

Chicago: 30% to 40%

MIT: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: You have a lot going for you: Your 730 GMAT, STEM background, a 3.7 GPA from a Canadian university known for its engineering program, and your employment at a major tech firm in Silicon Valley.

I think the issue here is you say you will matriculate at business school next year with two years of full-time work experience. Out of a class of approximately 930 people at Harvard, only 5% of the enrolled MBA students have two or fewer years of work experience. In fact, HBS has actually been increasing the median and average years of work experience in recent years. I think there are a lot of people who apply with two years of work experience but few people get in. I imagine your internships were part of a coop program because you have so many of them on your resume.

Still, you are a totally strong candidate. If you applied next year or fourth year, you would be in the sweet spot and give the business schools a longer record to look at. The question is, can you get in now in the second year? A lot depends on how good your recommendations will be—and you are getting people to write recs for you who have only known you for a year and a bit.

So the question is, can you overcome the two years of work experience? At HBS, your chances are 30% to 40% because you have a real positive story. At Stanford, it would be less because it’s harder and there is no super wow factor here for Stanford which tends to run a little younger than Harvard. Wharton might buy the GMAT or might just like your overall profile.

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