Branding yourself for business school applications

July 24, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Branding yourself for business school applications We believe that the MBA admissions process is inherently a marketing exercise.  This does not mean “spinning your story” to impress the admissions committee or telling them what you think they want to hear.  It means, presenting your authentic self in the best light possible.  It means taking a premium product (YOU) and wrapping it in beautiful packaging, showing off your true colors inside, then adding a well-written label that lets your personality shine through, so that you stand out from all of the others. And as any good marketer knows, the key to marketing success is a solid brand foundation. It’s impossible to market a brand effectively if you don’t know what it stands for.  Similarly, before jumping into the application-writing process, it’s important that you understand your own personal brand and have the same sense of understanding about yourself. You may have heard the terms “brand identity” or “brand positioning statement.”  Coming up with your personal brand is a very similar exercise.  While there are a number of meaningful elements that comprise the branding process, we recommend that you focus on these 5, and you’ll be off to a running start: Vision ...

Applying to the right business schools (and the right number of them)

July 10, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Applying to the right business schools (and the right number of them) July is here--and you may be feeling the pressure to finalize your business schools target list and begin strategizing for those first-round essays.  Your instincts wouldn’t be steering you wrong.  The question though is which schools, and how many of them, should you choose. Rankings: For Entertainment Use Only Rankings can certainly be a helpful starting point to build your initial b-schools list. (The latest rankings are always available in the notes section of our Facebook page.) However, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Each of them measures different criteria: Forbes calculates ROI five years after graduation, Businessweek looks closely at student and recruiter satisfaction, US News includes GMAT/admissions selectivity as well as a survey of MBA program leaders.  Which is why a phenomenal program like Yale SOM is ranked everywhere from #8 to #24, depending on who you ask. Instead, through your own research, identify the strongest programs in your areas of interest.  Consider opportunities to gain knowledge and connections both inside and outside of the classroom.  Rank them for yourself.  And then, weigh the other factors that will help you determine if the school is ...

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference

July 03, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference After attending our annual AIGAC MBA admissions conference in Philly—and tweeting up a storm—I stand before you armed with insights directly from the mouths of the admissions directors who’ll be reading your future applications. In attendance were Wharton, Columbia, Tuck, NYU Stern, Yale, Cornell Johnson, Texas McCombs, UNC and others—as well as representatives from GMAC, test prep companies big and small, and fellow AIGAC consultants deliberating the hot issues of today’s admissions process. Here are a few of the highlights: We first dissected AIGAC’s annual applicant survey results, administered by Huron Consulting Group and completed by this past year’s applicant pool.  Among the takeaways:  respondents spent 70-110 hours on their applications (plus another 21-30 hours on GMAT prep)!  50% scored a 700+ on the GMAT.  And 57% used an admissions consultant last year—99% of whom would recommend that future applicants do the same. Of strong interest was the issue of candidates being asked to write their own recommendations—a definite admissions mistake.  (Our recent post “Securing the strongest MBA recommendations” tells you why, and offers our advice).  38% of survey respondents faced this very ethical dilemma last year.  Be on the lookout for ...

MBA Tours: what, why, when (and how to use them to your advantage)

May 09, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Tours: what, why, when (and how to use them to your advantage) It’s MBA tour season again. And along with it comes our advice for using these events to your benefit in the admissions process. First, the what MBA tours, or fairs, are like job fairs for business school candidates.  Traveling city to city, they offer a great opportunity for you to attend panels, accumulate admissions and GMAT advice, speak 1×1 with admissions officers from your target schools, pick up brochures, and evaluate which programs are the best fits for you. In addition, it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear questions directly from the front lines, and make connections with prospective applicants. Why bother? I can just do my school research online, can’t I?  Yes, and you absolutely should.  However, attending an MBA fair can expose you to programs you may not have considered.  It enables you to hear diverse panelist perspectives on topics that will help you in the admissions process. And it gives you the unique chance to get your questions answered firsthand, demonstrate your passion for your target programs, and make a favorable impression on the admissions representatives well before you even apply. (And they will remember you.) How ...

Considering an International MBA?

May 01, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Considering an International MBA? What an interesting and life-changing proposition.  To not only earn an MBA, but to do so in such a unique environment that extraordinary diversity, cultural immersion, and hands-on international experience are a part of your daily life. There are very real factors for why pursuing an MBA overseas may make perfect sense for you.  Here are several worth considering: Building a Global Network According to GMAC, 38% of US business school students are from foreign countries. In European business schools, this number increases to 83%.  University alliances and exchange programs contribute to highly diverse, international student bodies that cannot be matched at US business schools.  For candidates pursuing a career in international business, there is no better way to expand their networks overseas and abilities to work on a global level. High Employability; High Salaries Whether in times of economic growth or in times of crisis, an international MBA is highly marketable to employers—both in the US and overseas.  GMAC also states that 87% of 2012 European MBAs were employed after graduation; nearly half were with a new employer.  Furthermore, median starting salaries in Europe were over $22,000 higher than those ...

Spotlight on Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

April 24, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on Duke’s Fuqua School of Business Last week, in the midst of a vibrant Duke Alumni Weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time at the Fuqua School of Business. It was as if the perfect 70 degree weather and blue North Carolina skies were planted intentionally to impress, however it was my conversation with Director of Admissions Megan Lynam that shed the most meaningful light into what makes an MBA from Duke so special. Did you know: Fuqua operates on six-week terms, which means more opportunity for more classes—along with a more rapid pace of learning. If you’re the type of person who can juggle many balls in the air successfully, you’ll be primed for success at Fuqua. If not, this is a program that will teach you quickly to become adept at prioritization and time management. Fuqua students are very deeply engaged and have an important role in taking the school to the next level. Through opportunities such as the carefully-selected second-year Fellows, students can work alongside department leaders and greatly influence strategic decisions throughout the school. With campuses all over the world (London, Dubai, Shanghai, St. Petersburg, New Delhi), Fuqua is the first truly global business ...

Communicating with the admissions office

April 03, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Communicating with the admissions office You have a question about your upcoming MBA application deadline, so you write up a quick email to the admissions office and hit send.  No problem, right?   Wrong. The email itself may be perfectly innocuous… or it may just have cost you in the admissions process.  Let’s break it down so you can determine when and how it is most appropriate to communicate with the admissions office. Everything is considered It is fair to assume that every piece of correspondence you have with admissions will be added to your application file.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.  Every piece of correspondence.  Phone conversations are captured, emails are filed, social media posts are copied, front desk chats are noted. If you contact admissions too frequently, they may perceive you as needy, unconfident, entitled.  If your style is too casual, they may question your maturity, or how you will handle yourself during job recruiting.  If your correspondence is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, they’ll be concerned about your communication skills, your proficiency. Ask yourself: does the contact you’re about to make reflect the level of professionalism that the rest of your application does?  That ...

Spotlight on DU’s Daniels College of Business

March 13, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on DU’s Daniels College of Business Once again, to pay homage to the MBA programs in our Colorado stomping ground, I am pleased to shed light into the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.  I recently took the opportunity to sit down with Allison Sharpe, Graduate Admissions Manager, to learn more about the program. Did you know: Daniels is the 8th oldest business school in the US and one of the first to integrate business ethics into its curriculum.  Ethical leadership is woven into the core of the program and is a key to who they are. For an MBA candidate seeking variety, flexibility, and a fully-customizable experience, Daniels is the ideal program.  Concentrations are not required, and students can take as many electives as they like.  And at a university with more graduate students than undergrads, cross-registration options are plentiful. Daniels offers a strong focus on globalization and is closely connected to companies, and even governments, around the world.  Students can choose from 10-14 international project trips to pursue their global interests. The program’s other famed strengths include: accounting (Daniels was initially founded as a school of accountancy), real estate (its Real Estate & Construction Management program ...

Aki, Wharton MBA

March 05, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Aki, Wharton MBA Hillary really helped me through out the process and her advice was very comprehensive and critical. I wouldn’t have been able to get into the school that I got in without having her help. She supported me in many ways – she not only helped me about just business school process but also she provided an opportunity to think about my life and career. -  Aki (New York, NY)

After you’ve hit “submit”

February 20, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

After you’ve hit “submit” Often, we receive questions from MBA candidates who have completed their applications and are now wondering what to do with their time.  Is it OK to quit my job now and travel?  I was offered a new job; should I take it even though I may be leaving for business school in six months?  My company has taken a down turn; should I leave and just spend my time volunteering?  I may go into finance; should I take the CFA exam before beginning school? There’s no wrong answer here.  Here are a few tips to help you make the best decision for you: Are you certain that you’re going to business school next year? If you’re still waiting for an admissions decision, don’t quit your day job just yet!  As you know, you can’t be certain of being accepted to any top business school, even if you’re deserving, and even if you’ve been invited to interview. If you end up on the waitlist, you’ll want to show the admissions committee that you’re continuing to progress in your career.  And if you end up being rejected, it will be much harder for you to find ...

Marie, Harvard MBA

February 17, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Marie, Harvard MBA Working with a boutique firm like Shine removed a lot of stress from the application process. I knew I was working directly with the principal, not a team of junior associates, which assured me I'd receive personalized strategy and the highest quality feedback. Hillary was very invested in my success, and her guidance significantly contributed to my acceptance at my top choice school. - Marie (San Francisco, CA)

Resources for MBA applicants

February 06, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resources for MBA applicants In addition to the insights that we provide through our blog, speaking engagements, and 1x1 MBA admissions consulting services, each year we always like to take stock of the additional resources that our clients found valuable in preparing their applications.  Whether you’re focused on nailing your GMAT or preparing for that final interview, here are some of our clients’ personal recommendations for future MBA candidates: GMAT Preparation Kaplan Manhattan GMAT Veritas Prep Princeton Review "The Official Guide to GMAT Review," by GMAC Beat The GMAT blog Admissions/School Insights Shine blog (Illuminations) School websites, admissions office blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, campus visits “How To Get Into The Top MBA Programs” by Richard Montauk “65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays,” by Dan Erck Beat The GMAT blog Business Week MBA articles GMAT Club “Calling All Applicants” threads Clear Admit blog Admissionado (formerly Precision Essay) newsletter MBAadmission.com blog Alumni/Student Conversations School admissions offices LinkedIn Interview Prep Shine blog (Illuminations) Clear Admit interview reports [For more information about preparatory resources or general MBA admissions consulting, please contact: ...

Mike, Dartmouth Tuck MBA

January 30, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Mike, Dartmouth Tuck MBA Hillary is an extremely talented, honest, creative, and caring person. Through the homework exercise and in-person meetings, she truly got to know who I am as a person, which made a huge impact when she reviewed my essays and resume. Instead of just proofreading and watching the word count, Hillary helped me get the best out of my stories and experiences and helped me to put my best foot forward in the admissions process. Whenever I had questions about any aspect of the application process, she was always quick to respond and made me feel like I was her only client. I am so thankful to have worked with Hillary, and I will be attending my first choice, Tuck, next year. For anyone applying to any MBA program, I would strongly recommend working with Shine. - Mike (New York, NY)

Should I apply to business school in round three?

January 30, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Should I apply to business school in round three? For most candidates, the answer is no.  However, under certain circumstances, it makes perfect sense to submit a 3rd round application.  Here are some ways to gauge whether you should apply this late in the game, or whether you'd be better off waiting until the 1st round next fall. First, the pros of submitting an application in round 3: If accepted, you get to attend business school this coming fall. Now the cons: Most of the spots in the class have been given away by this point.  For this reason alone, you’ll have a much tougher time getting in than you would otherwise. If you are not accepted, and you decide to apply again in the fall, now you’re not just a typical candidate, you’re a reapplicant.  This puts the onus on you to improve your candidacy in a significant way over the next six months.  If you were rejected once, submitting the same set of qualifications/stories will not yield a different result. People are accepted though in round 3, right?  Yes they are. The candidates with the best shots at 3rd round admission include: Those with a compelling story ...

Eric, Virginia Darden JD/MBA

January 08, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Eric, Virginia Darden JD/MBA Hillary Schubach is the most qualified person to consult with on your application process. Not only has she already walked the talk, getting into the best MBA programs, but she has also helped countless candidates get admitted into top programs. She has outstanding admissions advice, does an exceptional job answering career related questions, and helps you understand everything you can gain from an MBA. You may think that the rate is expensive, I did, but considering the payback of a $77K scholarship and admission into my dream schools, this is a small price to pay. Hillary will take your time very seriously and make sure that every penny counts. Her teaching methods and advice will stay with you throughout each application, even if you cannot consult with her on each one. If you are serious about getting into the finest program you can, Hillary is the best person to work with. - Eric (Denver, CO)

Geoff, Purdue Krannert MBA

January 01, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Geoff, Purdue Krannert MBA Hillary was a breath of fresh air when it came to the MBA application process. She took a great deal of time and offered clear advice from her many years of experience. It is no wonder why so many of her clients get into the top schools of their choice. - Geoff (Chicago, IL)

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process

November 21, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process With Thanksgiving upon us, this seems a perfect time to think about all of the people who have helped you in the MBA admissions process thus far. Very often, in the throes of essay writing and interview prep, we get lost in your own heads.  We’re sleep-deprived, focused on our own deliverables, balancing full-time jobs on top of it all.  Perhaps we’ve even felt the heartbreak of receiving disappointing news from one of our dream schools. We’re likely not thinking about too many other people right now. However, it’s never too early, or too late, to show your appreciation to those who have given their time and support to you through the admissions process. First and foremost, your recommenders.  They’ve spent hours upon hours hearing your story, preparing their write-ups, glowing about you, and doing everything within their power to help you get accepted to business school.  Secondly, your friends and family.  The ones who’ve diligently proofread your essays, encouraged you to aim high, listened to you complain, and missed spending time with you as you holed up with your computer.  Thirdly, all of the alumni, students, and faculty members you may ...

I’ve submitted my round one MBA applications, now what?

October 24, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

I’ve submitted my round one MBA applications, now what? Congratulations!  If you’re one of the motivated few to get your business school applications in early, you may be wondering what to do with yourself next.  Here are a few suggestions: Apply to 2nd round schools You’ve already got great momentum from all of your hard work in the 1st round; why not continue moving forward?  Worst case scenario, you develop an additional set of applications and end up with the fantastic news that you’ve “wasted your time” because you were accepted to your 1st round schools.  Best case scenario, you use these next few months wisely to write outstanding applications and create options for yourself--rather than scrambling at the last minute, if 1st round decisions don’t go your way. Prepare for interviews You may not know yet whether you have been invited to interview at your 1st round schools, but once you are, those interview dates come up quickly.  A great use of your time would be to begin preparing your responses to the long list of commonly-asked questions—which can be found through independent research or by working with an MBA admissions consultant. Mock interviews are also great confidence-builders, whether conducted ...

Mastering part one of your MBA application

October 03, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Mastering part one of your MBA application Did you finally finish writing your business school essays--excited that you were at the “end” of your MBA application--only to discover that Part One was actually chock full of enough short-answer questions and mini-essays to put you into a deep depression. Fortunately, you discovered this before the day your application was due.  And fortunately you had enough guidance to do yourself justice on this portion of the application, rather than detract from the value of the beautiful set of essays you’d just poured your heart into creating for Part Two. Here are a few tips to make Part One of your application as strong as possible: Characters vs. Words First the basics: follow the instructions.  We’ve seen plenty of people share with us their 250 word answers to a question calling for 250 characters.  Read the question carefully.  Determine whether “characters” includes or excludes spaces.  Test your theory by filling the data form with Xs, cutting and pasting it onto a MS Word document, and then running your character counter. Resume Redundancy If you’ve already done an outstanding job with your resume, there’s no reason that you can’t repeat the same language ...

Networking and the MBA admissions process

September 26, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Networking and the MBA admissions process Does networking with the staff, students or alumni of your target business schools help you in the admissions process?   The answer is, it depends why you’re networking. If you’re interested in meeting school affiliates to help sway the admissions committee, you’re likely wasting your time.  Derrick Bolton, assistant dean and director of Stanford GSB Admissions, has indicated that those types of unofficial recommendations really hold no weight.  Given the many thousands of alumni they have, if every one of them reached out to the admissions office to “put in a good word” for a candidate… Let’s just say we wouldn’t encourage the practice. So how can networking with members of the school community benefit you?  By giving you insight and information that you can use in your application.  What better way to understand the culture of an MBA program than to talk with its current students.  If you’re interested in a professional club on campus, its president would be a great resource to help you understand the type of programming the club offers and the ways you could get involved.  Talking with local alumni can give you a great sense of a school’s ...

Your essay is terrible

September 13, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Your essay is terrible There I’ve said it.  You’re trying to get off too easy with your choice of essay topics. Be careful not to underestimate the caliber of your competition. They’re using every inch of essay real estate to sell themselves and fight for their precious spots in the class.  They’re showing themselves as future leaders, future managers, people who inspire change, who impact their organizations, and who initiate new ways of doing and thinking.  They step up when the opportunity calls, they persuade others, they get chosen as team captains.  They excel above and beyond their peers. What are you writing about?  Something you wish had gone differently (passive)…or a time when you screwed up and can own it--and have learned from it since (active)?  General impressions of your experiences (nice)…or a vivid story about a specific example that has impacted you well beyond that moment in time (meaningful)? Here are a few indicators that your essay might be terrible: A failure that isn’t really a failure Missed opportunities are less compelling than admitting a true error in judgment. Consider picking a single story as your example.  Explain what you did and why, show ...

Developing an MBA application with impact

August 14, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Developing an MBA application with impact Essays get the lion’s share of the attention when it comes to business school applications.   They're the scariest beast to tackle, and they take the most time.  You might even believe that they hold the most weight, though they actually do not.  An MBA application is truly a package deal:  resume, data form, essays, recommendations, transcripts, test scores, interviews—the admissions committee has it all in front of them, and it all matters.  Your grand vision should be the combined impact of all of those items, not just the essays.   With plenty of blog posts to choose from about writing strong essays, here are a few thoughts on the rest of the application: Resume First, the resume.  Take the time to make it the strongest possible reflection of all of your professional and academic accomplishments.  Use this opportunity to highlight your extracurricular activities, community involvement, certifications and memberships, special skills, and even your personal interests.  Feel free to read our earlier blog post on what makes a strong MBA resume.  The point is, you’ve got valuable real estate in the resume to communicate items that you can’t otherwise fit into your ...

Overcoming MBA essay writer’s block

July 31, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Overcoming MBA essay writer’s block It’s time to start outlining your business school essays, and your mind is a blank.  What do I wish I had done better?  What matters most to me and why?  What has fundamentally transformed the way I think?  Where should you begin? Here are a few tips to jumpstart your writer’s engine and get those creative juices flowing: Ask your friends and family Get the input of people close to you. What is their perception of what makes you tick?  How would they describe your values, attributes, and opportunities for improvement?  What are you doing when they see your eyes light up the most? You’d be surprised how an outsider’s input can inspire a seedling of an idea that ultimately blossoms into your best essay. Find creative inspiration Go to the local book store and flip through one of those “essays that worked for the top business schools” books.  There are plenty of them.  You might be moved by the unique approaches others have taken to an otherwise straight-forward question.  Think outside the box.  There’s no rule that says your essays should be conservative (and dare I say boring)  in tone.  The admissions committee loves ...

Pilar, Wharton MBA

July 30, 2012  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Pilar, Wharton MBA I approached Shine after they came highly recommended by my employer. I was one of those applicants that did not know exactly what I was looking for and where I should apply. I asked Hillary to help me put together some ideas of schools given my interests and to help me formulate my "story."  Hillary provided some wonderful insight and was actually the one to suggest applying to Wharton, where I will begin this fall.  She not only helped me put together my resume but also a fabulous outline of the various qualities, traits, and experiences she thought I should focus on. Hillary takes a sincere interest in all of her clients and works to help each and every one of them in a personal and professional manner. I am so thankful to have found Shine. - Pilar (Dallas, TX)

Erin, Stanford MBA

July 12, 2012  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Erin, Stanford MBA Hillary's expertise as a marketer coupled with her knowledge of  business school admissions makes her an excellent adviser in the challenging MBA application process. She is excellent at identifying areas within an applicant's essays that can be positioned to appeal to the top schools' adcomms with additional detail and nuance. Hillary is patient, trustworthy and devoted to helping people get into the schools of their dreams. Thanks, Hillary for helping me get into every school I applied to! - Erin (Denver, CO)

International MBA insights

July 10, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

International MBA insights How much do you know about the top European business schools? At our 2012 AIGAC conference in Spain last week, we asked admissions directors from several top European business schools to tell us “three great things” about their MBA programs. Not surprisingly, every one of them highlighted the tremendous diversity of their student populations.  The number of nationalities represented, by both students and faculty, is incomparable at these programs – and makes for a truly global experience.  Programs like IESE and INSEAD also offer campuses on multiple continents, and many also offer exchange programs and partnerships with US business schools. Here are the other two “great things” they described: Cambridge Judge “The people and Cambridge,” says Conrad Chua, head of  MBA Recruitment & Admissions.  Judge is a highly collaborative program, and with such a small class size, anonymity is not an option.  Every student is active and involved, including their participation in 3 major team projects.  As for Cambridge, the university environment emanates excellence, and Judge values students showing potential to be inspired and make a difference in the world. ESADE “Personalization and Creapolis,” according to Christina Sassot, Director of Admissions.  After nine months, ESADE students can decide whether they’d like to finish in 12, 15 ...

Fadzi, Harvard MBA

July 10, 2012  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Fadzi, Harvard MBA Hillary was a wonderful resource when it came to my essays. She provided great advice, which allowed me to stay true to my voice. Hillary's help even went beyond the application process, as she put me in contact with her HBS peers to help me with my career search. She is a passionate, enthusiastic counselor who is truly invested in ensuring her clients succeed! - Fadzi (New York, NY)

Stephen, Northwestern Kellogg MBA

July 09, 2012  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Stephen, Northwestern Kellogg MBA Hillary was immeasurably beneficial to my applications for business school.  From my initial contact with her, she was professional, courteous, and truly excited about helping me improve my entire application, from the development of appropriate stories and explanations to the end result of writing highly effective application essays.  At first, I wasn't sure whether a consultant could be helpful to me, but soon after having Hillary review my ideas and early drafts I realized how much stronger my applications were becoming with her guidance.  She challenged me to "show her, not tell her" what I had done in my career and personal endeavors, which made my essays exciting to read and more representative of my accomplishments. She was an extremely clear communicator to me, and never let me slip a lazy sentence or boring idea past her.  With limited words with which to construct top business school essays, there is neither room for ambiguous claims nor unsubstantiated reasoning, and Hillary would immediately point out where I had made these mistakes and encourage me to push harder and to get the most positive impact from every word I put onto paper. Perhaps most helpful was her ability to guide me toward making my application ...

Securing the Strongest MBA Recommendations

June 26, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Securing the Strongest MBA Recommendations Did you know that one of the most common MBA application mistakes is making a poor choice of recommenders? Who are the right ones to choose?  Follow these guidelines to ensure that you’ve selected well, and that your recommendations work to your advantage in the admissions process, not detract from your candidacy. They know you really, really well The admissions committee favors recommendations from someone who you reported to in some capacity (formally or informally) and who has firsthand experience of your work style, attributes, strengths/weaknesses, and potential.  By far, your best recommenders are those who can speak about you in intimate detail, and can highlight their commentary with specific examples and anecdotes from their direct experience with you.  Candidates often fail by asking their CEO for a recommendation, which ends up being positive yet devoid of intimate details.  Titles don't impress, content does. They will do the writing themselves Writing recommendations for a business school candidate is a lot of work.  You may come across recommenders who tell you that they're happy to sign the form if you'll do the writing for them. If you do, thank that person generously, and then ...

How to get into the top business schools from China

June 20, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

How to get into the top business schools from China As applications to the top business schools in the US continue to increase from China, schools are forced to make difficult admissions decisions amidst this highly competitive applicant pool.  Here are four tips for Chinese applicants to ensure excellence in the application process and differentiate yourselves from others. Brand yourself Many applicants from China are academically qualified for the top schools and offer high GPAs, GMAT, and TOEFL scores.  The key for the Chinese applicant is to differentiate yourself by all of the unique experiences you bring to the table: professional, extracurricular, and personal. Share your passions, hobbies and activities.  Let them see your special skills and strengths.  Show off your personality, creativity and distinguishing attributes.  Find your personal brand, know your differentiation from others, and let it shine through in your essays. Showcase your experience Because test scores are so elevated among Chinese applicants, the admissions committees also will be eager to learn the details of your work experiences and how you uniquely excelled in those roles.  For both your resume and your essays, take great care to think through each position you’ve held (professional or otherwise!) and highlight your ownable accomplishments, ...

Upcoming MBA Admissions Fairs: Making the Most of Them

June 05, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Upcoming MBA Admissions Fairs: Making the Most of Them It’s MBA admissions fair season: a great opportunity for MBA candidates to attend admissions panels in your city, pick up GMAT tips, talk 1x1 with admissions officers from your target schools, and evaluate which programs are the best fit for you. In addition, it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear questions directly from the frontlines, and make connections with prospective applicants. Here are 5 tips to ensure you make the most of these MBA events: Remember that every touch point with the school reflects upon you as a candidate, be it with the head of admissions or the receptionist.  Smile, offer a confident hand shake, show your enthusiasm, and be professional with whomever you speak. Do your homework.  Nothing shows your interest like coming armed with thoughtful questions, beyond what can be found on the website.  Ask about a topic that intrigues you, an aspect of the curriculum, campus initiatives.  Show your sincere curiosity about the MBA program, rather than simply a desire for face time.  Book 1x1 sessions when possible.  Some schools offer a chance to reserve a time slot to meet with the admissions team privately or in a small group.  ...

Tim, NYU Stern MBA

June 01, 2012  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Tim, NYU Stern MBA Hillary was a great help guiding me through the stressful MBA admissions process.  She helped me with each step, from school selection to framing my experiences into essays to the interview process.  Her knowledgeable advice helped me feel more confident throughout.  Most importantly, I got into my top choice NYU, among other top-tier schools like Chicago Booth and Yale! - Tim (Brooklyn, NY)

Pragati, INSEAD MBA

May 30, 2012  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Pragati, INSEAD MBA I truly appreciate the way Hillary personally invests herself in her clients and shares their enthusiasm, success and setbacks equally. - Pragati (Royersford, PA)

Writing a resume worthy of a top MBA application

May 29, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Writing a resume worthy of a top MBA application If only the top MBA programs would provide resume examples.  What are they looking for??  One page or two?  Executive summary or not?  Education above or below professional experience?  Can I trust the MBA resume template I found online? Will a top MBA program reject you because you chose to list your professional experience below your education?  Certainly not.  However, I can share a few tips from my experience at Harvard Business School that may impact your resume choices. As a first-year HBS student, to be considered for on-campus recruiting, every student’s resume must be constructed in an identical format.  It evens the playing field for students, and prospective employers can count on HBS to deliver a consistent set of polished resumes for consideration.  Do I have a copy of that template?  I sure do—and will share its takeaways with you--though of course, it requires great content above all.  Still, with these five key pointers, you’ll be well on your way to writing a resume that already makes you look like you’re a first-year student at a top business school. Format You just can’t go wrong with Times New Roman.  For a business ...

Spotlight on CU’s Leeds School of Business

May 22, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on CU’s Leeds School of Business With our home base in Denver,  I meet a lot of MBA candidates who are considering our local business schools.  So I was pleased for the chance to talk with Jen Smith, head of admissions at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado – Boulder, to gain insight into the unique aspects of this MBA program. Did you know: CU Leeds is known for its outstanding program in corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability.  With a dual degree option in environmental studies, and a strong partnership with nearby organizations like the National Renewable Energy Lab, this track is one of the primary draws—and a popular elective set among students of all disciplines. Among Leeds’ other strengths are its finance and entrepreneurship programs.  This year, a team of Leeds students won the premier International Venture Capital International Competition (VCIC), beating out finalist teams including Wharton, Michigan, Berkeley, Cornell, and Oxford.  Since 2000, Leeds teams have won eight VCIC regional competitions and placed in the top four in the international finals. For those pursing a marketing career, particularly in natural/organic consumer products, Leeds is the ...

Spotlight on Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business

May 15, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business Last week, I was  lucky enough to spend some quality time at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with admissions team members Kelly Wilson, Hilary Prokop, and Kristen Bautz.  On a perfect sunny Washington DC morning, I got a firsthand look at what makes this program so special. Did you know: Georgetown is a true general management program, and offers complete flexibility in defining one’s curriculum.  With no majors, and the freedom to select any combination of second year electives, the program is equally ideal for students pursuing traditional and non-traditional career paths. Georgetown is a great fit for students who understand that business is about the impact on both society and the bottom line.  Grounded in the university’s Jesuit heritage, the MBA program values principled leadership and an appreciation of diversity, tolerance, and ethics. These same values have also fostered a warm and caring culture at McDonough.  The small class size and tight-knit community leads its students to be frequently found sharing recruiting insights with one another, running study sessions for classmates, and helping each other succeed. Beyond its location in Washington DC, Georgetown’s new curriculum places even greater emphasis on the global aspect of ...

The Months Before Applying To Business School

May 01, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

The Months Before Applying To Business School So, you are planning to apply to business school this fall. Anxiously, you’re awaiting the release of the essay questions you’ll have to answer, possibly studying for the GMAT as we speak, and likely feeling a bit hopeless that there isn’t more you can do NOW.  The good news is, there is.  If you make the most of this waiting period over the next few months, you’ll not only be ahead of the game, you may strengthen your candidacy as well. Resume There’s no need to wait to update your resume.  Certainly leave room underneath your current position for additional updates, but your past positions won’t be changing.  Take the time now to think through all of your professional accomplishments, roles and responsibilities.  Remind yourself of all of your community and leadership positions, your hobbies and personal interests, your activities and committees.  It’s actually the ideal way to kick off the brainstorming needed for your applications. Recommenders Identify your target recommenders and approach them now to ask them if they’d be willing to write your recommendations.  Look at past applications to familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked, ...

Getting off the MBA waitlist

April 24, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Getting off the MBA waitlist You’ve put in your full effort, delivered an outstanding MBA application, and the disappointing decision comes back: waitlisted.  You feel like you might as well have been rejected. Don’t despair.  It’s NOT a hopeless cause.  Every year, at nearly every top business school, people are taken off the waitlist and given that long-awaited admit letter.  The waitlist spot means they already like you and would welcome you in the class, given unlimited room.  Here’s how to position yourself best for those precious last spots at the school of your dreams. Listen to your admissions committee While many admissions committees welcome additional submissions to support your candidacy, others explicitly state that they do not.  Respect their wishes, and carefully read their instructions before you begin any waitlist campaign.  You’ve come this far; you don’t want to do anything now that could potentially harm your candidacy. Let them know how much they mean to you First, write a brief letter confirming that the school remains your clear first choice, and if admitted, you would definitely attend.  (Assuming that’s true.  If it isn’t, consider letting the waitlist spot go to another candidate.)  Add any support points ...

Jon, Michigan Ross MBA

April 16, 2012  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Jon, Michigan Ross MBA Hillary was driven, flexible, and transformed my application process from a scary monster to one that was much less intimidating! - Jon (New York, NY)

Meghan, UVA Darden MBA

March 22, 2012  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Meghan, UVA Darden MBA I could not be happier that I chose to work with Shine. I decided to use a consultant because I was applying to business schools while working full time, and I knew that having an additional set of eyes on my work would save me some stress. However, my experience with Shine was much fuller; Hillary helped me take my applications to the next level and maximize my potential. Having someone as experienced and professional as Hillary on my team was a godsend, and I know that my applications were much stronger because of Hillary’s guidance and feedback. - Meghan (New York, NY)

Amrita, NYU Stern Executive MBA

November 19, 2011  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Amrita, NYU Stern Executive MBA I had an excellent experience working with Hillary. Her insightful, thought provoking and helpful suggestions really helped me craft the best possible application. Her attention to detail helped me tell the best possible stories through my essays. In addition, I was working towards an early application deadline and she worked quickly and efficiently to ensure I was able to meet the deadlines. She is a consummate professional who is passionate about her work and it was a pleasure working with her. I cannot recommend her enough! -Amrita (New York, NY)

Writing Like a Future MBA

September 05, 2011  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Writing Like a Future MBA When you think of common business school application mistakes, I’ll bet some of the famed horror stories come to mind: the wrong-school typo, the too-personal essay topic, the inappropriate Facebook photo… What about writing ability? Not the baseline question of whether you can put an English sentence together—but the little things. The ones that aren’t deal breakers in and of themselves, but that pick away at the reader’s nerves. Things that distract the reader from the points you’re trying to make, and that make the experience of reading your application a less pleasant one than it could have been. And without meaning to, that slowly but surely begin to separate a weaker writer from other candidates in contention Before you finalize your resume or get too deep into essay writing, I wanted to share some of the more common writing-related issues I see on candidates’ applications year after year. May these suggestions help you to come out of the gate with your best foot forward: Active voice Always use active voice (“I did X”) rather than passive voice (“X happened to me”). Take credit for the choices you’ve made—particularly when they generated a ...

Seth, Duke Fuqua MBA

August 10, 2011  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Seth, Duke Fuqua MBA Working with Hillary was a very beneficial experience for me.  She was accessible, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to work with. Through working with Hillary, I was able to better craft my bschool "story" and I am confident that her guidance resulted in my bschool acceptance. -Seth (Brooklyn, NY)  

Robert, Texas McCombs MBA

August 10, 2011  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Robert, Texas McCombs MBA The MBA application landscape has become so competitive that just being a good candidate is no longer enough.  Hillary's insight and experience were instrumental in helping me market myself and build my personal brand.  She not only taught me how to put together the strongest application possible, she was able to help me determine which schools were the best fit for me personally (I recommend keeping an open mind, you might be surprised.)  Hillary takes the luck and guesswork out of the application process, and I highly recommend her to anyone who is serious about attending a top business school. -Robert, (Houston, TX)

Audrey, Georgetown McDonough MBA

August 10, 2011  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Audrey, Georgetown McDonough MBA I came to Shine MBA admissions towards the end of my MBA application process, and I regret not using their services sooner. The essay editing was detailed and thoughtful, and the suggestions for improvements did not try to stifle my voice as a writer or alter my goals for pursuing an MBA. In addition, the phone consultations proved extremely valuable because I could brainstorm effectively with my consultant Hillary, while also receiving sound advice on putting my best face forward, interviewing with schools, and the final decision making process. I am very grateful for the help I received during such an anxiety ridden and stressful period of time. -Audrey (San Francisco, CA)

When To Re-Take The GMAT

August 05, 2011  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

When To Re-Take The GMAT Raise your hands if you’ve ever second-guessed whether your GMAT score is good enough. Now, keep your hands raised if you’ve scored over 720 and wondered the same thing.  Thought so.  Hands down please. There are very few applicants who haven’t at least wondered, if not worried, whether their candidacy is at risk due to their GMAT score. Here are a few considerations to help you make this assessment for yourselves: There’s no such thing as a deal breaker Those that have attended one of my "How To Get Into The Top Business Schools" presentations can tell you that this is a dominant theme. Other than an ethical violation, there really is no one element that would take an otherwise qualified candidate out of the running. My favorite example comes from the Harvard MBA Class of 2013 profile. The GMAT range of students in the incoming class is 490-790.  490!!!  Is this a good target GMAT score for anyone applying to HBS?  No, no it is not. It does however prove that if you’re an extraordinary candidate, you are going to get your chance.  (On a ...

Wendy, George Washington MBA

July 31, 2011  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Wendy, George Washington MBA Shine was an incredibly valuable and inspiring resource to me throughout the business school application process. Hillary provided me the direction, support, and feedback I needed to perfect my resume and essays. She was tremendously helpful in creating my “personal brand,” which allowed me to more clearly define my post business school goals. She was a wonderful sounding board and mentor to me during the months we worked together and it was truly a pleasure using her services. - Wendy (Washington, DC)

Mio, MIT Sloan MBA

July 05, 2011  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Mio, MIT Sloan MBA Hillary’s commitment to the quality of the output was sincere. Especially when reviewing my resume, she taught me how to envision who I am and how I came here on a piece of paper. As for essays, she wouldn’t pass off any points where I could better demonstrate my personal brand. She also provided ample knowledge regarding my career goals and school choices. Her candid feedback and appropriate questioning helped me to reflect what I want to achieve in my career and stay true to my voice. I was very fortunate to work with Shine and be admitted to my first choice school, MIT Sloan. Thank you Hillary for all your support! - Mio (Princeton, NJ)

Dan, Wharton MBA

February 24, 2011  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Dan, Wharton MBA From the moment I began speaking with Hillary, I knew I was in the hands of someone who really cared about my admissions process. She worked feverishly to get back to me in a timely fashion and always made me feel like I was her number one priority. When working with me on my resume, she really helped to spark my thinking as far as what was needed in each section and what message I wanted to get across to the school I was applying to. I strongly recommend Hillary's assistance in any part of the process as she is someone with great experience, very likable, and extremely professional. - Dan (New York, NY)

The Road To Be Traveled

October 25, 2010  |   Blog   |     |   1 Comment

The Road To Be Traveled The dreaded “career essay" What are your career aspirations and why?   Why do you want your MBA (at our school)? It’s causing you angst to no end.  Of course you don’t know 100% what you’re going to do after you graduate.  Even if you think you do, you probably don’t.  There’s a whole professional world out there to explore...isn’t that part of why you’re going to business school? Let me take the pressure off you:  the admissions committee knows this too.  And the good news is, no one will ever withhold your diploma in the end--cross-referencing your career plans with your application essays, making sure you stuck to your plan.  Unfortunately though,  in the admissions process, there’s nothing less attractive than someone who doesn’t have a clear sense of direction.  “Soul searchers” are sadly not a recognized attribute of future business leaders.  So, you just need to take a leap of faith based on everything you know today—and make the best case for your chance to explore tomorrow at the schools of your choice. Where to start Think down the road, maybe 7-10 years. Whose role could ...

What To Write About

September 10, 2010  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

What To Write About For my first ever blog entry (which I'd been putting off because I didn't know what to write about), I thought it only fitting to write about...what to write about. It's the concern I've heard most this week from the business school candidates I work with privately.  "I can't think of any good leadership examples!"  "I don't have any time outside of work for extracurriculars!"  "I can't think of a time when I really, well, failed." Let it come I conduct a number of speaking engagements, and I often begin my presentation with a section entitled: First and foremost... Slide #1 then goes a little something like this:  BREATHE.  It may not be hilarity, but it's one of the best pieces of advice I can offer.  A creative mind needs some breathing room - and the best ideas likely won't come while staring stressfully at your computer screen. Plant some seeds and sit with them for a while.  Carry a small pad with you and capture ideas while you're driving to work, out walking the dog, or laying at the pool.   Pick your mom's brain while cleaning up dishes after family dinner. ...

Katherine, UVA Darden MBA

August 22, 2010  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Katherine, UVA Darden MBA Hillary was a wonderful resource during the entire application process. She has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the top MBA programs, and with her input, I was able to create a list of target schools that met my needs. During the application process, Hillary helped me discover my “personal brand” enabling me to stand out among the other candidates. In addition helping me perfect my essays and resume, Hillary provided the encouragement and support I needed to navigate the process. I would highly recommended Hillary and Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting to anyone thinking about business school. - Katherine (Denver, CO)

Will, HEC MBA / Tufts Fletcher MALD

August 21, 2010  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Will, HEC MBA / Tufts Fletcher MALD I was put in touch with Hillary 48 hours before my business school deadline. Literally overnight, she was able to take a comprehensive look at my application and make many great suggestions on how I could improve. Even without meeting me personally, she took a competitive application and made it even stronger. I was dually impressed with Hillary's punctuality, insight, strategic thinking, and her ability to articulate thoughtful and meaningful ideas on to paper. I would highly recommend to anyone who is applying to business school to consider working with Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting.  It is definitely worth the monetary investment, and she will help you create an application that is stronger than you thought possible. - Will (Portland, ME)

Andrea, SMU Cox MBA

May 22, 2010  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Andrea, SMU Cox MBA Hillary was exceptionally knowledgeable and thoroughly prepared me for the intense application process. She created a customized strategy and guided me in preparing and writing my essays, which ultimately led to acceptance into my program of choice! - Andrea (Denver, CO)

Steve, Wharton Lauder MBA/MA

February 20, 2010  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Steve, Wharton Lauder MBA/MA Hillary was most helpful in constructing my 'personal brand' and conveying that concisely in my essays. In working with her, I was able to portray myself, reasons for applying to business school, and post-business school goals more clearly. - Steve (Boulder, CO)

Courtney, Northwestern Kellogg MBA

February 15, 2010  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Courtney, Northwestern Kellogg MBA The application process gets intense.  Hillary kept me focused and enabled me to feel genuinely relieved versus anxious when I pressed submit. Hillary not only helped me uncover the pieces of my background that made me a unique candidate, but also  how to use each essay to highlight those aspects of my life and experiences. - Courtney (Denver, CO)

Jeremy, Drexel LeBow MBA

May 21, 2009  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Jeremy, Drexel LeBow MBA Hillary never ceased to amaze me as not only the consummate professional, but also a truly passionate, sincere, and remarkably talented individual with an unbelievable track record of always finding a way to get the job done.  More importantly, Hillary truly made me feel like more of a friend than a client.  She possesses all the knowledge, networks, and sincere desire to see all of her projects through to fruition and is never too busy to listen, understand, support, and advise in just the right way for each unique situation.  At times, I literally wasn’t sure who wanted me to get accepted more – me or her!  Without her constant patience, guidance, and persistence to identify exactly what was best for me, and lead me directly down the right path to get there, I cannot imagine ever having survived the grueling process.  I cannot thank her enough for playing such a vital role in my acceptance into my targeted program, as well as professional career advancement well-beyond just “making the grade” in the classroom. Simply put, there is just no one out there who knows more, cares more, or can always be counted on to go the extra mile and do ...

Leah, Harvard MBA

May 29, 2008  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Leah, Harvard MBA More than anything, Hillary was a wonderfully inspiring, creative and calming resource throughout what was at times a very overwhelming process.  I always felt encouraged and had a renewed sense of inspiration after each of our sessions.  I cannot imagine having had a better guide than Hillary.  Together, we were able to craft a story that illustrated how my unique attributes and experiences have shaped my career vision and how they would enable me to contribute a fresh perspective in a classroom environment.  She truly did help me "shine," and I can happily say that with her guidance, I was admitted to my first choice program, Harvard Business School. - Leah (New York, NY)

Jennifer, Michigan Ross MBA

May 25, 2008  |   Featured,Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Jennifer, Michigan Ross MBA The business school admissions process was one of the most intense, time-consuming and daunting activities I’ve ever undertaken. Having Hillary there to support me and guide me through it was a tremendous help.  She provided me with her actual essays so I could see real examples of what top business schools look for in a candidate.  She also edited my essays to better craft “my story” and gave me great insight on the various top business schools that you cannot get from an MBA admissions book.  Furthermore, her energy and enthusiasm kept me going throughout - and now I have graduated from the school of my choice after experiencing the most amazing and stimulating 2 years of my life. - Jennifer (New York, NY)

Caryn, Wharton MBA

May 25, 2005  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Caryn, Wharton MBA Hillary's personal success with business school and her commitment to assisting others is a great combination for driving success for MBA candidates. - Caryn (New York, NY)

Haley, Pace Lubin MBA

May 25, 2001  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Haley, Pace Lubin MBA Hillary Schubach made such a difference in my business school experience as she critiqued my application and essays and turned them into something that really stood out from the rest.  The Lubin Business school had no choice but to accept me into their program.  I was working full time for Pepsi-Cola when I went back to school at night for my MBA.  Hillary is not only a brilliant writer, but an excellent friend and confidant! Hillary helped make the difference in my life that was necessary for me to get ahead in my career.  I was promoted 4 times after I received my MBA and now have a tremendous resume that I am very proud of! - Haley (Stamford, CT)

Andy, Northwestern Kellogg MBA

May 21, 2001  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Andy, Northwestern Kellogg MBA Hillary's overall advice and detailed editing were absolutely vital in helping me to produce quality essays that I believe were a significant reason why I was able to get into my top choice for business school (Kellogg).  Even with her extremely busy schedule, Hillary still found time to give me detailed feedback on my work, and we had numerous discussions where I felt she had by far the best knowledge and perspective of the application process versus some of my other contacts that I used to help me with the process.  She truly understood the rigor/process that it took to write a strong set of essays and I highly recommend her help for aspiring business school applicants. - Andy (Washington, DC)

Maurice, Wharton MBA

February 14, 2001  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Maurice, Wharton MBA Hillary played a critical role in the formulation of my business school essays. She brought challenge in multiple areas: the thought process, the overall flow and messaging, even the sentence formulation. We had several sessions (by phone from South America!) and the help was tremendous. It is clear that Hillary's help really moved the dial on the final output. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for structured, detailed support. - Maurice (Buenos Aires, Argentina)