Rejected By Harvard Business School? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

The Pharma Guy

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA from undergraduate university
  • 3.3 GPA from pharmacy school
  • Work experience includes two years as a health economic at a Fortune 500 biotech company; a year at a boutique phase consulting firm, two years as marketing manger at a mobile health application startup
  • Extracurricular involvement for more than two years as a volunteer for a makeshift health clinic in Africa, helped to raise funds and design parts of it into a free clinic and pharmacy
  • Essay focused on growing up from poverty in rural China and making it to Canada with $100 – how that sense of determination to take
  • Goal: To do his own biotech startup
  • 29-year-old Canadian citizen from China

Sandy’s Analysis: Dunno why Harvard Business School turned you down. I like you, and biotech is a trending interest at HBS, so this is a bit surprising. Maybe it is your age, which is slightly on the oldish side, or too many zig-zag jobs, or your nerdy current job, and possibly a brag-y essay did it, if I had to guess.

Look, not sure this was the issue, just speculating. In general, a brag-y essay is a highlight reel, “In college I was proud to be both student body president and captain of the lacrosse team, and both gave me a taste of what being a leader is.”

At my first job at ___, I got a rapid promotion and still found time to be a VP at WECARE, a charity set up by firm to help teach inner city kids how to read.

When I got to my PE firm, I got staffed on the x billion dollar merger of X and Y and got a chance to see how guys with real swinging dicks conduct negotiations.”

That is a brag-y essay. Bascially it is sorta highlighting stuff on your resume like a highlight reel and not adding anything in terms of what you learned, how you operated, what influences the experience had, etc.

Another possibility is that you were rejected because of your post-MBA goal of wanting to start your own biotech firm. Well, that might make better long-term goal, and makes us wonder for a second, how realistic you are in general. Fair or not, admission officials often read a lot in small things and can easily misinterpret your intentions.

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