Cracking Wharton with a No brand background

You must have heard about feeder companies. If you haven’t you will definitely hear about them further in your MBA application journey. These are business giants, like Bain and McKinsey, whose employees are considered to have a brand advantage when it comes to MBA admissions.

Harsh did not have this advantage. Like many of you, he came from an average firm from the technology sector and did not really have any brand-related goodwill to leverage during his MBA applications. He had a work experience of four years but did not have even a month-long stint with an Industry giant from his industry.

Inspite of this, Harsh got into one of the most exclusive MBA programs at Wharton, a US Top 3 business schools!

How did he do it? Read on to find out.

Harsh’s goals story

Harsh came from a NO BRAND background and wanted to really find out how that can be used for the Ivy League schools. He was very concerned whether that kind of role will be strong enough for the kind of schools he was looking for.

We started with approaching it from a very different perspective and addressed all the angles that can be used at his advantage. He was pitting against applicants who came from Bain, BCG, McKinsey backgrounds and even other feeder companies to these programs.In order to leverage the background, we created a story that brought momentum to his past. The idea was not to have a pure consulting or a banking story.

Numerous rounds of edits on goals and the working on "How will Wharton help you grow professionally?", we found our sweet spot. His story became very different from a regular goals story, and we could see that. We did not pitch Wharton for Finance or Consulting positions. Rather, we pitched to Wharton for Marketing. It was unusual, and new but was the only way out given his expertise.

Harsh’s essay analysis

Just as a lot of MBA applicants, Harsh’s reasons for MBA were limited to getting a job, and studying marketing and finance courses. But that was not the point of creating a “Why Wharton?” essay. The idea behind the essay was to really guide the school into understanding that if you get your post-MBA job without the Wharton MBA, why will you still need a Wharton MBA? Why will you still want to come to an MBA program at Wharton?

What Harsh needed to understand was that Wharton wasn’t directly asking “How can Wharton help you get a job?”. Most of the time when applicants write an answer to the question in the previous statement, they should actually be writing the answer to “What will Wharton MBA do to your current professional way of being?”.

Most of Harsh’s training included finding out such intrinsic details of the MBA application process so he could start presenting his best version on paper.

Pos training on resources like Management Consulting guide, and Interviewninjas we saw a significant change in Harsh’s approach to answering the essay questions.

Although we had been working on the same question of “Why Wharton?” for the past couple months, we picked it up once again for the interviews. It became an important part of his mock interviews because the conviction he had for his various reasons for pursuing Wharton needed to be as strong verbally as it was in all his essays.

After various mock sessions, we could see he was prepared for his actual Wharton interview.

Needless to say, Harsh nailed the Wharton interview and received an admit to the highly exclusive business school.