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Interview with the Authors of Your MBA Game Plan

Q and A with Scott Shrum and Omari Bouknight

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Scott Shrum and Omari Bouknight are the co-authors of the best-selling book, Your MBA Game Plan. Recently, these two MBA graduates sat down to answer a few questions about the book, their website, www.mbagameplan.com, and the MBA admissions process.


What inspired you to write Your MBA Game Plan?

We met each other while applying to business school, during the 2001-2002 application season. We were both struck by how many applicants were making the same mistakes over and over again – things like focusing too much on the GMAT and downplaying the importance of building a well-rounded application. We started talking and realized that we had very similar (and strong!) opinions on the right way to build a business school application. Off the cuff, Omari suggested that we should write a book on the subject, and Scott agreed. Nine months later, we signed a deal with a publisher, six months later we had a completed manuscript, and a few months after that Your MBA Game Plan was published!

You now offer a resume and essay consultation service on your website www.mbagameplan.com. How would you describe this service?

Basically, we serve as advisors to applicants who are trying to perfect their MBA admissions essays and resumes. Originally, MBAGamePlan.com was a small, simple site devoted to promoting our book, and providing a few free resources to business school applicants (such as sample business school essays and sample resumes). But as the book and the web site started to gain in popularity, we literally had to turn away dozens of applicants who asked us to serve as admissions consultants or essay editors. We weren't looking to launch any service at all, but then we realized that there was an opportunity to help business school applicants in an ethical way. Not that most other services are unethical, but we liked the idea of helping applicants without ever putting words in their mouths. So, we created the idea of an MBA essay and resume evaluation service, rather than an editing service. We'll thoroughly review your essay or resume and make detailed suggestions on how to improve it, but the rest is up to you, the applicant.

Some schools frown on the use of admissions consultants, but at the same time, these schools must realize that most applicants depend on an extra set of eyes to look over their resumes or essays at some point. Doesn’t it make sense to use a specialized professional rather than a friend, family member, or colleague?

Ideally you can get input from someone who 1) is a great communicator and 2) has been through the tough process and gotten into a top business school. Some applicants have friends who meet this description, but most applicants don’t. Many of our clients simply don’t know someone who knows what MBA admissions officers look for, or don’t have anyone they can turn to for great writing advice. All of our evaluators meet both of these criteria.

Should a business school resume be longer than one page?

When it comes to business school applicants, we’ve never seen a resume that we couldn’t get down to one page. When applying for a job, some people (especially more experienced applicants or those with specific technical or academic credentials) may prefer to go with a longer curriculum vitae. But for a business school application, your resume should provide a succinct summary of your experiences and achievements. Since you have so many other parts of the application in which to discuss these things, you should keep the business school application resume to one page.

Is it necessary to include an objective?

For a business school application, an objective isn’t needed. The objective – to get into a top MBA program – is pretty clear, so save that space for something else!

Should a resume focus on education, experience, or accomplishments?

We recommend leading off with work experience and accomplishments, and devoting the majority of the resume to this area. Then, toward the bottom, cover education and other accomplishments/interests. In an MBA admissions officer’s eyes, your past achievements on the job are the best indicator of your future career success, so make sure that these are front and center on your resume.

Most people have a hard time formatting their resume. Can you provide any formatting tips to help them get started?

We recommend a very simple format that makes it easy for a business school admissions officer to scan it and tell when you worked where, what your responsibilities were on each job, and what exactly you accomplished. On our web site we offer some sample MBA application resumes to illustrate how best to go about this.

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