Tailoring Your MBA Application to Yale SOM

November 14, 2017 | by Fortuna

If you’re serious about Yale SOM, make sure your application is specifically tailored to its unique mission, values and culture. Any business school, for that matter, wants to be your number one choice. That means cutting and pasting isn’t going to win hearts and minds. But what does it take to effectively customize your MBA application to Yale? In this video we talk with Kristen Beyers, former deputy director of admissions at the Yale SOM, about what Yale is looking for and how to craft your application to capture Yale’s attention.

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Video Transcript:

Matt: Well, welcome everybody to the Fortuna Admissions video webinar series. I’m with one of my colleagues, Kristen Byers who was the deputy director of admissions at the Yale School of Management. Kristen, it’s great to have you with us for this chat. Yale, of course, is just one of many world-class outstanding business schools that young professionals are looking at. There are many great business schools, there are many great reasons to go to business school, so how can you really tailor your applications to Yale, or to the culture and strengths of any of your target MBAs.

Kristen: Absolutely, I’m happy to chat, and thanks for having me today. I think it’s really important, regardless if it’s at Yale or any other business school that applicants have in mind, to really to take the time – just as you would in a job application – to go through and do research and due diligence to make sure that you’re tailoring your application to that school’s community and mission, its focus and values. Making sure you’re taking the time to understand a) what that is, and then b) taking the time to connect your experiences and your interests and your passions. Make sure there’s alignment and then tie it together, integrate throughout the various components of the application.

My advice would be not to underestimate the importance of being thoughtful and taking that time to make an authentic connection to the school, as opposed to pulling something off of the website or spouting the mission back to the admissions committee. That’s not what they’re looking for, they’re really looking for a unique and personal connection. Whether it’s the way they’re running their curriculum or, for instance, that Yale has a strong focus on educating leaders for both business and society.

That can mean a lot of different things, and it does mean a lot of different things to different students, alumni, recruiters, etc. So,  what is the applicant’s personal connection to wanting to succeed in the business world but also to being connected to something larger, and understanding the cross-sector relationships in the world? Being able to tie in and make that argument back to them. And again, I would also say definitely get beyond the website. There’s so much available online, but if there’s an opportunity to make sure applicants are reading case studies and understanding what the dialog is happening in the classroom, being able to talk to students and recent alums if that’s available to you, going to campus or a virtual event, or going to an event within a city near you just so you can actually meet and understand the culture that the school is offering and what they really value.

And then after talking to folks, really doing some self-reflection and going back and looking for those integration points in a natural way and not making it forced. That could be something through your work experience, it could be through a personal experience that you had that you really resonated with, something that’s important to the school because of the extra-curriculars, and then really taking the time.

I think the essay is one of those beautiful opportunities you have to really craft your own story and not be stuck to the confines of other pieces of the application which are either already done because they’re based on your experience or a test before, but really being able to tell your story and make those connections.

Also looking at things like your recommenders, and making sure that your recommenders understand what that school’s unique positioning offers, and also look at your resume and make sure your extra curricular or your volunteer experiences are popping out. You might have a different resume for every school that you’re applying for to make sure it’s in line with what they value.

Really think about both what you can get out of that experience – why can you uniquely benefit from that particular school based on the way their teaching and what their value proposition is – and then also what you can add and enhance the classroom [by bringing] as well.

Matt: Without making you blush, of course, in your years at the school you read a fair number of applications. Beyond swapping in the name of another school an saying ‘well, you know, that sort of collaborative culture that we have here at New Haven, this could have been Tuck, this could have been Kellogg, this could have been Duke’. Could you really tell when an applicant had taken that additional time to really connect with the school or, inversely, look at this and say …. ‘he feels like a Columbia sort of profile, and perhaps not as suited to the culture of the school’?

Kristen: Absolutely. I think it’s important for applicants to think through that delicate line between demonstrating their [understanding] by listing classes that they’ve sat in on, or listing students that they’ve spoken with, but highlighting instead what they learned from that experience and how they connect to that.

For instance, at Yale they [examine] perspectives, so instead of teaching a class on marketing they teach a class called ‘the consumer’ and they’re connecting [to the issue] from a customer perspective. So, maybe it’s linking something from a work experience to resonating with thinking about it from a customer’s perspective. That shows the committee, ‘okay great, they’re already valuing the way we’re teaching leaders and could really jump in and hit the ground running.’ It’s about taking the content and the essence out of what you’ve learned as opposed to, you know, listing things that a lot of the business schools will value in terms of teamwork and collaboration and really trying to get up the essence of what that particular program does differently. I would say you absolutely can tell in an application.

Matt: And as things continue to evolve … Because, of course, as one of the younger top schools – I guess, what, 41, 42 years old – it has tremendous strength and depth around nonprofits. But with [Dean Ted] Snyder, his real desire to see the school looking at business from a global perspective as well as business and society. So, individuals that have an international background, is that something that they really want to bring into the application and talk about how it aligns with the international focus of the school?

Kristen: Absolutely, they do. So, I’ve been gone about three and a half years now, and the school has changed lightyears in those few years under Ted’s leadership in terms of the number of programs and partnerships that they’ve added with other global programs. I would say not only looking for folks that have either international background, but also folks that just care about the way the world works and going forward thinking about their career in terms of understanding the global mindset.

I think with some of the changes at Yale’s program, they are attracting applicants with more of that global appetite and curiosity because there’s more built into the two-year experience where they’re able to go through the global network and go for a week or two back to a different campuses and experience something specific to that economy, for instance. And then they’re also able to welcome students from different economies onto a new campus and be able to collaborate with them in the classroom. So, absolutely it’s a strong program. And you’re right: it’s dynamic. They just added two new masters programs that are connecting with the MBA program this fall.

Matt: Constant evolution and staying connected with the school. Kristen is one of close to 30 Fortuna Admissions Coaches working with applicants to the top schools. We’ve got a tremendous spread, I think 12 of the top and really helping you to understand the cultures of the schools and how that might best fit your goals, so we encourage you to reach out to Kristen and myself, and we look forward to talking. Thanks, Kristen for sharing this video session together and we’ll be back online very soon.

Learn more about working with Fortuna Expert Coach, Kristen Beyers, former Yale SOM Deputy Director of Admissions.

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