Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Federal Civilian

  • 780 GMAT (first attempt)
  • GPA 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from a UC school (not Berkeley or UCLA, although I was accepted to both)
  • Work experience includes four years in an engineering/operations role as a federal government civilian at a large repair facility supporting a branch of the military
  • “I support all phases of operations and held project role as the intermediary between active duty personnel and the project engineering team.”
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer with local outdoor recreation group and a new student orientation leader during undergrad
  • Short-term goal: To transition to strategy consulting
  • Long-term goal: To do internal consulting at a large manufacturer or energy company
  • “I don’t know of anyone from my work who has gone to full-time MBA, so I’ll be coaching my recommenders from scratch and don’t have a good frame of reference on how my work will be viewed. My work experience certainly isn’t great, but I’m hoping to mitigate concerns about it in other parts of my application.”
  • 26-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Virginia: 40%
Cornell: 40%
Texas: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, a 780 GMAT buys a lot of cred at most schools, especially those you are targeting. You should also think about Wharton and maybe HBS (the app is easy after you have done a few others).

The 3.4 might need some explaining. Do you have any idea what your class rank was? After all, grading in engineering majors is often harder than in liberal arts tracks so that you could put it in some perspective.

What you really need to do is start feeling better about your work history. You say that you have spent four years in an “engineering/operations role as a federal government civilian at a large repair facility supporting a branch of the military” and that you “support all phases of operations and held project role as the intermediary between active duty personnel and the project engineering team.”

I got only a so-so idea of what that means, and I am sure it probably sucks as much as you make it sound. You need to start talking like Trump and not some honest guy. Make it sound like a great
 job with the challenges of dealing with tech problems, dealing with military and civilian peers and supervisors, exposed you to the whole world of how projects get done, got you really excited about 
managing tech and cross-functional teams, blah, blah.

I usually don’t say this, but if you cannot put that dog-and-pony show together by yourself, you might hire a consultant. There is a good story lurking there with a lot of touch points that B-schools like.
You don’t want to present it as if your work certainly isn’t great.”

Son, get that thought out of your head. Your work experience has been wonderful, for reasons stated above and because you are making America great. Got it?

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