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Why I Coach—Jaye Zhang

Jaye Z., an expert Leland coach and Stanford MBA, outlines why she chooses to coach and what it means to her.

By Jaye Z.

August 22, 2022

“You’ve never studied in the U.S....I don’t think you’d really stand a chance. If I were an Admissions Officer, I’d wonder how fluent your English is. I think you should look at some other schools.”

These were the words that a consultant at a leading MBA admissions firm told me – irrespective of the fact that I grew up in Singapore, a country where English is our main language, or that I had graduated with First Class Honours from a top university in London. This was not the first discouraging message I had heard – I had set up introductory calls with a few admissions firms when I started thinking about the MBA, and was often told “I think you’re being too ambitious.”

Filled with self-doubt, I closed off the application portal tabs on my browser for my top two dream schools: HBS and Stanford GSB. I started working on my applications for other schools that I felt I might stand a better chance of getting into. A week before the deadlines, I had my applications ready – I finished my GMAT, was done with my essays, and had obtained my recommendations.

But something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I wasn’t doing myself justice, that I wasn’t taking a chance on myself. I knew I’d regret not even trying for the schools that I was so excited about.

So, I called it all off. I decided to wait another year.

In that year, I really dug deep into why I wanted to go to business school, and how it can help me with my personal and professional goals. I’m an international applicant, and even though I came from management consulting, an MBA was much less common back home than it is here in the U.S. I did a ton of research, asked for help and feedback from lots of people, and paid close attention to every aspect of the application. I was grateful for friends who saw potential in me, pushed me along the journey and kept me going, and reminded me to focus on what I really wanted.

Fast forward to two months later: I received interview invites from Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. Instead of being excited, I freaked out. I didn’t think I was good enough to get this far, and I felt like an imposter. Thankfully, I was able to find coaches who really took the time to understand my story, practiced mock interviews with me and instilled confidence. I eventually received offers from all three schools, and decided to pursue my MBA at Stanford GSB.

My time at the GSB has been nothing short of transformational. I’ve discovered much more about myself than I expected, been pushed and challenged in so many directions, and gained confidence in who I am and what I bring to the table. I wish I could go back in time to my 25-year-old self struggling with my MBA applications, and give her the empowerment she so desperately needed.

I coach because I want to help open doors and create opportunities for those around me to dream big. I want to push others to discover and believe in their superpowers. I want to support you in telling your story in the most authentic way, and have confidence that you’ve put your best foot forward in showing the admissions committee what a wonderful human being you are.

I wish I had someone who went through the same journey and supported me every step of the way back then, and I’d love to be that person for you.

Interested in working together on your MBA application? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.