Software Developer


Professional Strength

Nationality Competitiveness


Above average age and way below average stats.

The Story:

As far as applying for MBA goes, these are not the numbers you want going in. The candidate was an R&D software developer at an unknown software company, father of 2, husband of 1. With no brand to his name and a whole life outside his work, MBA admissions boards assume that profiles such as this have passed the age where they can give education their all. With a family to care for and an entire life outside of work, schools assume that this candidate will be a barebones student. That is to say, he will fulfill his coursework, but he will not have the energy to stay and network at the late night wine tasting event nor have the time be the next head of the Entrepreneurship club.

The Strategy:

Energizer Bunny

We wanted to show that the candidate could do it all and more. Instead of making his age, family, low test scores, and work experience work against him, we wanted those factors to look impressive. How? By making the candidate look unstoppable. First thing we wanted to show was that this candidate had a lot of energy for many different activities. By bolstering his personal story with a wide range of engagements, it would render his age meaningless.

For this, we made to sure to focus one of his essays not only on his extracurricular activities, but his engagement at work and in the social sphere. We wanted to show that he was not just a strong software developer – admissions boards are not too impressed if you’re good at what you’re supposed to be good at – but also, that he was a nucleus of initiative and drive. A software developer who was the organizer of a bi-annual blood drive and food donations for the holidays. That starts to add dimension to his otherwise assumed profile.  A software developer who puts on projects for the community as well as group building exercises for his teams? We’re listening…

This alone isn’t enough. Up to this point, we showed that his life status and age don’t mean that he lacks energy or involvement. We showed that he is a king at time management and prioritization. Beyond this, we needed to show that his age plays to the advantage of his professional experience, which will only be strengthened by an MBA. For this, we leveraged his R&D experience to a career shift into a Product track. We showed how his R&D perspective will be invaluable to companies for which he will serve as a product manager. This shift gave him an edge and used his experience to tell a career story that would make sense with his life story and seem enticing to hiring companies.

Lastly, we needed to make up for his low GMAT score. Through his experiences and his work as a software engineer we were able to emphasize this strength. His actual work experience was very analytical, which rendered the test score less offensive. Moreover, we made sure that the recommendations specifically noted and highlighted his analytical ability through concrete achievements. In this way, it was clear that his analytical ability was put to the test of life – and, more importantly, passed with flying colors. Arguably, the test of life is more important than the GMAT… even MBA committees know that.

The Results:

Candidate was admitted to Berkeley, Duke, and Michigan.

The Lesson:

If you have one big weakness, build strengths around that weakness in order to sweep it under the rug. But if you look like a list of weaknesses on paper, it is imperative that you construct an application that speaks to each of these so-called weaknesses. By addressing every red flag your application could have raised, the negatives are neutralized, leaving the admissions committee satisfied and impressed. In the terms of the candidate profile above, the application materials were constructed to look something like this: “Think I don’t have energy? Here’s all the things I do in just one day. Think I don’t have time for extracurriculars? Here’s all the things I’m involved in outside of work and family. Think my work isn’t impressive because I’ve never worked for a big brand? Here are the projects I’ve worked on – and succeeded in. Think I have low analytical ability? Here are all my achievements based in analytical and computative thinking.”