Two years ago, I decided to apply to business school. I was totally overwhelmed.
First, very few people in Hollywood earn MBAs—before business school, I worked in in the entertainment industry—and even fewer were able to offer actionable advice, or introduce me to alumni or anyone with admissions experience. Second, I lacked the confidence that I would be a worthy applicant. I thought I wouldn’t have the mathematical skill to even be considered, and that business schools wouldn’t want someone who’d worked in film and entertainment.
But I persevered. I gathered every shred of advice I could find, and decided to apply to eight business schools across the US and Europe. I wanted an MBA. I wasn’t going to be stopped.
Then I started the application. Things went well, until I hit the GRE. I struggled. A lot. I am not a strong test taker. In my exams, I routinely scored 10+ points higher on the qualitative than the quantitative sections, and my scores weren’t in the target range for the schools I was applying to. I remember feeling like this test was an insurmountable obstacle.
Eventually, though, I found a tutor. Together, we worked exclusively on my quant scores, until, gradually, I improved. I don’t think I would be here without them.
Once I cleared the standardized test hurdle, I hit my stride. Writing an essay was something I knew I could do, and in particular, I knew I could articulate why I wanted to go to business school, because I’d been thinking about it for so long. I’ll admit, I was a bit intimidated by the interview process, because I felt so different from typical applicants hailing from private equity and management consulting backgrounds, but I leaned into my differences, and showcased what I’d learned while in Hollywood. Months later, I was admitted to my first choice: Stanford’s GSB.
I’ve just completed my first year at the Farm. After spending time here, and seeing what an impact it can make on your career, I’m more bullish on business school than ever, and feel very passionately about helping non-traditional candidates like myself—especially those from creative, entertainment, or media backgrounds—earn spots at top MBA programs. I’m passionate about crafting narratives, finding the best in people, and inspiring others to persevere, as I did. If I can do it, so you can you.
The best part, though, is helping others find their voice. In the GSB’s quintessential essay question—what matters most to you and why—I talked about how it wasn’t enough for me to cross the finish line of success. What matters most is helping others cross the finish line, by guiding them with processes and strategies, and building their confidence. I still feel this way today, and I’m living up to that essay answer by coaching others through the admissions process—so they can earn spots in their dream programs, and perhaps most importantly, find their inner voice and confidence along the way.
Interested in working together? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.