Body Guard (Secret Service)


Professional Strength

Nationality Competitiveness


No connection between his work and MBA

The Story:

The candidate came to our door with a B.A. in international relations in hand and a several years experience working as a body guard and no other professional experiences. The problem with this profile is that when planning your career path, it is important to consider both Industry and Function; then, it is important to make sure that you only make a change in one. In other words, if you plan on maintaining a similar professional function, then you can shift industries. And if you want to stay in the same industry, your career path should focus around how you plan on developing in function. Unfortunately, the professional history of a body guard did not align in either function or industry in the MBA world. When there isn’t at least a tangential connection between what your experiences are and what you plan on continuing to do in the future, it is very difficult to create an MBA career path. MBA schools do not want you to arrive with zero business experience. The philosophy is that an MBA hones skills, it doesn’t create them from scratch. Moreover, at the end of the day, admissions committees want to make sure they’re picking a candidate who has already proved him or herself on some level in a particular field or function; they use this experience as proof that the candidate will utilize the resources of an MBA and can succeed. Long story short: with no other professional history, this was a bit of a problematic application to prepare.

The Strategy:

Let’s Start Digging

Let’s be clear: stories of a secret service body guard are riveting. The candidate had many experiences that would keep any reader interested for whole chapters, not just essays. But still, these stories don’t carry the weight of the application alone. These types of stories are the best support system to a professional history; they can be used to paint the candidate as a highly aware, compassionate, incisively keen individual who can make difficult decisions in high stress situations… but they don’t do the heavy lifting on their own.


So, we had to start asking questions. After thorough interrogation of the candidate, it turned out his wife’s family owned a real estate business. Since he had done some work with his father-in-law, we were able to use these hints of experience to put him on the playing field with the competition who applies with years of professional experience under their belt. New Secondary Segment: Family Business!!


For this candidate, the professional experience we dug up wasn’t to demonstrate his skills – he had endless unique stories to demonstrate promising skills – but rather, we used these scraps of information to frame his professional story in a way that makes sense with the MBA path. While alone his experiences as a security guard would make him seem not fitting for an MBA, with some business experience under his belt, his homeland security experiences could then be used as a wow factor.


The Results:

Candidate was admitted to Columbia J-Term and UCLA. Today, he no longer has to worry about a lack of experience.

The Lesson:

Having cool stories isn’t enough. Your overall story and experience has to somehow fit with what the MBA experience has to offer and the opportunities the schools can provide. If the university programs don’t feel like you’ve had enough business experience in order for them to help you, your unique experiences wont suffice. If this sounds like you, it’s important to look around and start thinking creatively of where you can show some exposure to business - see what stories are available to you (family businesses, friends’ startups, etc) and use those stories to keep yourself relevant. That will open the door for your other essays about your truly unique experiences and skills to get the attention they deserve.