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Leveraging Work Experience in Your Application

Charlotte is a twenty-nine-year-old risk analyst at a prominent mid-western retail bank. A green card holder, she completed a PhD in statistics from a Korean university and began working for a well-known U.S. insurance company. After a year with the insurance company she received an attractive offer from the bank that she has now been with for eighteen months. Originally from Korea, Charlotte has been regularly involved with the Asian business communities both in the city where she currently resides and previously while in graduate school. Her academic record was quite strong – at the top of both her class both at her college in Korea and at the large, U.S. university where she earned her PhD. Her GMAT score was average (690 with an 80+% quant section).

With her background, Charlotte would need to convince school admissions committees that her professional experience was substantial, relevant and interesting. The most effective way for her to do this, I felt, was by presenting a focused career plan in her essays. She needed to "draw a line" from her PhD studies to her recent professional experience to her post-MBA career goals. Doing so would allow her to leverage the uniqueness of her academic background while demonstrating to the Admissions Committees that her plans where well-conceived.

As we started working together, we had long conversations about her career plans and how an MBA fit in. At the time she only had a vague idea how this all fit together – and I was clear in telling her that "putting the pieces together" was essential for the success of her candidacy. To help her think about her aspirations I was able to connect her with some alumni from schools in which she was interested and she took this lesson to reach out to alumni from other schools as well.

These conversations proved formative in writing about her career plans. Charlotte was able to draw a clear line from her past experiences through the MBA to her short- and long-term plans. In the end, she was admitted to two of the four top-ten MBA programs to which she applied.

– Mark is a former Associate Director of Admissions for the Tuck School of Business.

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