A few days ago I somehow unintentionally heard about the Harvard MBA 2+2 program, where you can apply right after school, go work for some years and, if accepted, go back and join the HBS MBA program. As the HBS MBA is definitely my target program after some years of work experience, I'd like to ask if it is worth applying right now, in the final year of my Master's studies.
Currently I am in an engineering graduate program at a Top 3 US Engineering School (current GPA around 3.8), undergrad engineering studies in Europe (top 4% of the class), Dean's list member and several scholarships as an undergrad.
I was an undergrad teaching and research assistant, and did a six month internship at well-known automobile company. Several community service and volunteering activities (volunteer math tutor for pupils, member of organizational team in two organizations), but no leadership position.
- GMAT: To be eligible for applying this year, I must have taken GMAT before April 8, and haven't started studying yet. According to HBS website, median GMAT is around 740. I don't know how hard the GMAT will be, but after reading through a few forums, achieving this score after studying for under 1 month seems unrealistic (especially if I don't have 5-6 hours a day for studying, as recommended). I took the GRE for my Master's applications 1.5 years ago, score was 94% quant, 61% verbal (and I took it twice). Do you think it would be worth to submit the GRE although the verbal score is quite average, or even give it a try with GMAT?
- Recommendations: my master's program is a more coursework- and project-based one-year-program, so that we don't do any research and don't have any direct supervisors. It's hard to ask my current professors for recommendations if they don't really know me, and the two questions stated on the website are very specific (Such like: How would you rank the student based on communication, intelligence etc. among his peers? Give specific examples; Describe a situation where you gave him feedback and how he reacted...). I can ask my program's advisor, but idk if there is a chance, as nobody of us has really worked on something with him or under his supervision...
Back as an undergrad, it was quite hard to find professors as recommenders for my master's studies, as I was in a mass university and it was impossible to know the professors directly. I think I somehow got on their nerves last year by making them write recommendations for 12 applications (same counts for my research supervisor), so that I have hesitations asking them for further ones. My former internship supervisor is also not an option, since we did not have a very good relationship.
Even if I get the two LOR required, I am afraid that first they will not be that outstanding and secondly, in case my application gets rejected and a few years later I want to reapply, they may not be willing to provide me LOR.
- Leadership: I don't have any formal leadership positions in my CV. I was a volunteer math tutor for several years as an undergrad and also a member of the organizational team in a mental support organization, both as an undergrad and now as a grad. But I never held any special position, although being among the most active members.
Generally in group projects, I am not the classical extroverted leading figure. I rather focus on getting my work done as well as possible, contributing as much as possible to the project's success, listening as carefully as possible to my teammates during meetings, and trying to understand the value of the project and each teammate's contribution as a whole. I usually shut up when I've nothing to say or can't support my ideas/suggestions with arguments and data (or at least let the team know that what I'm saying/asking is just a speculation/hypothesis), ask specific questions if I don't understand or have doubts about something, speak up if I am confident that my words will contribute to the project moving forward, and enjoy helping others if I know how.
I don't know how much the lack of leadership positions will affect my application, but as far as I understood it is crucial, especially for HBS MBA applicants.
That said, what are your opinions? Should I give it a try, or rather go work for a couple of years and then apply? With the second option, in case I do well in my job, I think I will be able to provide more convincing leadership stories and my bosses/teammates will be more willing to write nice things about me as recommenders. But the latter will only be the case if most things go well...