Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Boutique I-Banker

  • 750 GMAT (Q49, V44, IR8, AW6)
  • GPA: 3.98
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from a second-tier state school
  • Work experience includes two and one-half years in a current position as an analyst at a boutique investment bank; also spent two years aboard teaching English at one of the poorest schools in the city
  • “We are really small (under 10), which is a blessing and a curse. It won’t have the name brand of a Bulge Bracket, but it has given me exposure that I probably would not have gotten at a larger bank. I directly work with senior leadership at our clients, lead meetings, overhauled and run the intern program, and served as lead for the hiring and training of a new analyst. I will likely be senior analyst at time of application”
  • Extracurricular involvement as a resident assistant for two years, a study abroad ambassador for one year; also have serve on a board of directors for two years for a small non-profit with operations in local city and international (leadership development for at-risk children)
  • Goal: Want to pivot into an Leadership Development Program in technology
  • “One of the industries our bank focuses on is technology, so I have gotten a lot of exposure into that space from an M&A perspective. I now want to broaden my business and operational understanding to get a more holistic view of how to operate a company. I have started talking to alumni from top schools who have gone to LDPs at Cisco, SAP, Amazon & IBM”
  • 26-year-old white male who would be 28 at matriculation

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%
Stanford: 20%
Wharton: 30% to 40%
Yale: 30% to 40%
Berkeley: 30% to 40%
NYU: 40%
Duke: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, your background is doing some impressive do-gooder stuff for 2 years, followed by “Currently work as an analyst at a boutique investment bank (2.5 years experience now).”

You do NOT have a tech background but you chose tech because “I have gotten a lot of exposure into that space from an M&A perspective.”

Dunno, you need to make it clear to business schools that doing a merger in the tech space is a good proxy for convincing a tech company to hire you after an MBA into their LDP. Does that happen, anyone? You should do some research.

I am not sure saying you want to join the tech space is getting you much. You might do better just saying you are interested in how companies run and grow, especially innovative companies
like 1 2 3 (name some from different industries) and you’d be interested in LDP programs there.Chose companies with a history of hiring kids into these programs from backgrounds like yours. If that includes tech, name companies, and double check.

As for your extras, I’m just saying this again, extracurricular involvement for dip shit self-serving doobies like Board of Directors for Young Professionals and local alum orgs are not worth as much as extras which have an impact beyond yourself. I don’t think another extra is going to tilt anything in the basket for you, but my general advice for extras is that if you are planning your B-school app in high school, find ONE thing that is PC/trendy, personal to you, and has an impact beyond yourself. Become a real LEADER in that thing.

The rest of this is solid, but you do note a few things that you worry could hurt your application, including being an over-represented male.

Well, you are a white male, and will be competing to some degree with other white dudes, possibly from banking, an elite group. You need to make it clear you are not the typical banker type. The do-gooder stuff helps, and so do your goals, but we got three different stories running here, and this post and your app could be a mild headache, through no fault of your own.

You also worry because you are coming from a crowded industry from a firm without the pedigree of a Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, or a top-tier boutique like Lazard. Yes, that is another outlier in your story. How much this will ‘hurt’ is hard to say. You need to present this as not sloppy seconds in the immediate post-college sweepstakes, but a real accomplishment after coming off two years of do-gooder jive. That is real important.

And then there is your great GPA from university that is not top-tier.My take on that is that adcoms respect high GPAs. This will not be your major problem.