720 (48Q, 41V) military officer seeking top ten MBA. Advice?

Prepwise AnswersCategory: Military720 (48Q, 41V) military officer seeking top ten MBA. Advice?
Greston Wise Staff asked 7 years ago

Here’s the run down:
– Applying in 2019, matriculation 2020 (must see out military contract)
– Stats below reflect age/work experience in Fall 2019 when applying
– 27y/o white, male US military officer
– 720 GMAT (48Q, 41V) – taken once, studied three months, best of six practice tests: 740 (49Q, 42V)
– 3.86 GPA (math) from US Naval Academy
– 5.5 yrs experience:
– 6 months additional training after graduation
– 18 months forward deployed to Japan in operations/planning/leadership role
– 14 months nuclear power training
– 28 months leadership/reactor plant management role (current job)
– Strong performance evaluations
– No significant extracurriculars
– Short Term Goal: MBB to increase business exposure, seek to help companies reach strategic goals
– Long Term Goal: General Management, likely in energy sector to leverage nuclear background
– Target Schools: HBS, Tuck, Sloan, Kellogg, Fuqua
How do I make myself more competitive before applying in 2019? Specifically, should I retake the GMAT?

3 Answers
Kate McKeon Staff answered 7 years ago

Hey Rem,
Strong overall profile, a couple of points to consider below. Out of curiosity, are you on a sub?
Point 1: GMAT
Your GMAT is okay. I saw pushback among 27/28 yo white males with that exact split this year. No interviews despite reasonable profiles: HBS, Wharton, Stanford. 🙁
You don’t HAVE to retake, but sadly I would suggest that you DO. Keep it tight and focused in the approach and you can get your 49/42. Unless something is seriously wrong, you can be done in 3-5 weeks. I would NOT spend more than 5 weeks. You need about 8 hours a week. This is do-able.
Point 2: Military
While each of these schools has different forms of positive feelings about Military experience, some of them (HBS) are demonstrating resistance to having candidates fresh off the boat. They want you, just not right away.
It would be super helpful to get yourself set up at bulge bracket anything (bank, PE, etc.) to run through 1-2 years under their wings. This will benefit you beyond admission. It does push out the start age, but that’s not a terrible thing for doctors, scientists, and military. There are tons of Naval grads at all of the top shops. Consider at the very least getting set up to do 15 months – this assumes you finish your commission in May – before you start the MBA. You’d apply that September while only 3 months in, BUT schools would look favorably on your steps to the professional world.
Guys the generation before you could pop straight out of the Navy and into Bschool, but that’s getting harder to do at top programs. Not impossible, just less clear-cut. I’ve seen primo candidates get the interview and then not even waitlisted. Most of you guys are a little too raw in interview. So if you do apply for straight out, GET INTERVIEW PREP!! Please.
Good luck and thanks for your service!

Greston Wise Staff answered 7 years ago

I’m not on a sub, but that’s a great guess. 
I’ll retake the GMAT. Thanks for the needed push. 
I can leave the Navy in December 2019. It’s just how the timing worked out. May would typically be right otherwise. I figured I would extend until the summer so there wouldn’t be a gap in employment. I hadn’t considered getting setup with a bulge bracket and delaying applications an extra year. I’d heard (incorrectly?) that taking a job after the Navy before business school would somehow hurt my profile. Do you see that as a better route than potentially going to a school in the top ten besides Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton? 
Thanks again, 

Kate McKeon Staff answered 7 years ago

My take:
At the very least take a roll that fits in with your post MBA goal from Jan 2020 – August 2020, arrange it as an internship. That’s a nice in between. Since you have that time – it’s just enough, but barely – to demonstrate “real world work experience” (forgive the term) before you roll into school, you don’t need a full year. But you will want to work out the details before you apply.
In an ideal timing situ:
By August 2019, you arrange with Bank X to do an internship Jan 2020-Aug 2020. When hitting them up, have them look at you (because HR needs something they already know) as a collegiate/mba candidate with a December graduation date if they don’t have a military recruiting plan in place (some do). Several have programs in place for December grads. There are certainly better ways to do this, but I’ve found if you present HR with the map, they’ll muck it up less.
If you want to get the offer by Aug 2019, you really need to start the recruiting cycle in September 2018. And really, if you start in Sept 2018, you’ll probably have the offer by Dec 2018.
Does that sound absurd?
But, if you get hyper aware of their recruiting cycles and are a good candidate for them, you can pull this off without the extra year before MBA.
RE: job or no job between Navy and MBA
I’ve had at least half a dozen Army and Navy guys complain about getting interviews and then not even waitlisted. Even more not even getting interviews. (To be fair in several of the no interview cases, they were not good candidates for the schools they pursued.)
Some have received feedback that they specifically need to get work experience outside the Service. 
I’ve also seen at least a few who did get in, get invited to leave for a year to brush up on other skills (usually quant related).
If you were planning to go back to the Navy, then Navy – hbs – Navy would be fine. Since it sounds like you are moving on, based on what I’ve seen particularly in the last 5 years, go Navy – MBB – MBA – MBB. 
You can probably get the mbb set up in this year’s Fall recruiting cycle. If they think they want you long term, they’ll be fine with the arrangement. If you can’t get much interest Sept-Nov 2018, then you’ll need to fix that before you apply to top 5 programs in 2019. Use your bank recruiting in 2018 as a bellwether for your MBA shot.
Long range planning.
Good for you to think this far ahead. Don’t downgrade your dreams. Just prep properly and pounce on opportunities as you find them. It’s not unlike how you might look at a strategic campaign.
Good luck. Let me know how I can help you,
P.S. re your comment, ” I’d heard (incorrectly?) that taking a job after the Navy before business school would somehow hurt my profile.”
Taking A job looks like you didn’t plan and or are a lost puppy. But taking a relevant job, MBB in your case, is actually a very good sign. So, not just any job, but a specific, relevant job will WIN you points. Perhaps the person you heard that from was considering it this way. If not, he/she might be thinking of generations past.