Last night I had the pleasure of watching on YouTube a one-hour chat with Fred Wilson, co-founder and managing partner of New York-based venture capital firm Union Square Ventures.
Completing my interviews, and submitting the “Post-Interview Reflection” for Harvard, effectively marked the end of my MBA application process. Nothing else was left to affect my chances! In the following days, I felt both energized and drained at the same time. The waiting game started, and I set myself into “zen mode”. I looked back at the incredible amount of work I was able to add to my already busy life, and felt immensely proud of it. At the same, I prepared myself to accept any outcome. [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]
Once I clicked “Submit” on the online form, I thought I should give a high-five to my reflection in the mirror. The amount of work which went into the application, on top of everything else in my life, was remarkable. I then relaxed and kept my mind busy during the waiting game which could have led into an interview invitation. When that moment arrived, I have myself an even stronger virtual high-five. Statistically, the worst part was ove! After that deserved moment of euphoria, it was time to concentrate on the interview and prepare for it. [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]
Recommendations are the only element of the application on which no applicant has direct control. This sounded somewhat stressful to me at first, but I realized that I could at least influence the outcome by selecting the most appropriate recommenders, and briefing/inspiring them on what they should convey with their words. This is what I reckon business schools mostly value: persuading your manager to spend some of his/her precious time writing an essay about you, not only compelling but also coherent with the rest of the application, is a great demonstration of leadership. [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]
I spent a lot of energy crafting a resume specific to my application, consistently with my essays and profile. I did not simply reuse an up-to-date resume put together for a different goal. I thought that demonstrating a successful professional trajectory, even at my early career stage, with evidence of impact on an organisation, leadership and innovation, was very important in the application process. The resume is where I tried to make all this information shine. [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]
The most time-consuming part of writing the essays for me came before and after the act of writing. Jotting down an answer to the questions took me a few hours at most. By then I had already selected some stories fit for the purpose, after building my profile and doing my research on the schools. However, after the page was filled up with words, I spent even more trimming down, editing, refining and getting feedback on the first draft. With hindsight I believe that this exercise helped me turn a good draft into a much better essay. [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]
A critical phase of my MBA application, concurrent to researching your target schools, is “researching myself” and building my profile. What are my unique traits? Where do I want to be in five years? And in twenty years? How would my personality, experiences, passions add value to the class? This introspection exercise might come naturally to some people, including myself, whilst for others it might appear to be daunting at first. Either way, and regardless of the outcome of the application, it was a useful moment of self-reflection. [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]