I don’t like getting advice from more than one person at a time. I’m a textbook over-thinker.
Kevin Malone said it best in Season 5, Episode 17 of The Office. As I approach the beginning of application deadlines (34 days!) for Round 1, I have my
moments prolonged periods of self doubt. The overarching question? What if I don’t get in anywhere? It is a common thought among applicants. Every year, there are applicants that for one reason or another, don’t end up with an acceptance at any of the schools they applied to. Some applicants may be reaching, applying to only top schools with questionable scores or no-to-low work experience. Others, apply to only their their top choice, thinking “Its HBS or Bust”. While at first, both of those strategies seem flawed, who can blame them? You only get to do your MBA once, so why not reach for the stars or make no compromises in your school choice. To those with the boldness to go with such a strategy, I applaud you. But at the same time, I realize you are a lot more flexible in your future than others might be.
Others, being me. I’m applying this year to 6 schools, across an array of acceptance rates. My strategy is exactly the opposite of those listed above. Why? Because it is imperative that I get in to school this year. Similar to investment banking analysts, I took my job at my firm under the condition that I’d be leaving after a set period of time. For IB analysts, the usual contract is 2 years. For me, it was 1.5 years. While I don’t think it would be impossible to stick around for another 12 months, I definitely don’t have the offer to do so, and that path is far less traveled than the path to a 3rd year analyst in investment banking.
Logically, I’ve pretty much ruled that out. I could always apply for a job internally, right? wrong. I have about the highest level job I can have without having either a MBA, CFA, or both at my company. To take an internal transfer would be yet another side step in my career, making explaining to MBA programs next year a near impossibility. Furthermore, external job hunting would yield similar results, but for different reasons. If I take a job with another company, I’ll have 3 jobs within 2 years – definitely a red flag. So it would seem, any move besides business school is going to raise a red flag for future business school applications. Uh oh. Enter self doubt. You see, the most logical path forward is business school, given how I have
boxed myself in set up my career. If that path doesn’t work out this winter, then I’ll add another red flag to a profile that didn’t yield any results from this application season.
So what to do? Well the obvious answer is to get to work on applications. GMAT, check. GPA, check. Recommendations? In progress. Essays? In progress. Seems like I’m on the right path anyway. Maybe all of this self doubt is just over-thinking. And with that – a poll to see how everyone else is doing this application season: