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icon-case-study Aliana
Degree 3.8 from USC, Communications
Initial GRE Score 147Q/152V
Profile 22-year old recent graduate with one year work experience looking to go straight to Business School
Target Schools Columbia (Reach)
NYU Stern (Reach)
UCLA Anderson (Reach)
USC Marshall (Competitive)

Application Branding Strategy

Aliana wanted to shoot for the stars. She told us going in that she didn’t want to apply to any backup schools she had no intention of attending. She would prefer to wait two years and beef up her resume rather than “settle”. School selection is critical, and a strategy unto itself, so we helped her pare down her list to some big-name “reach” schools that had a reputation for admitting applicants with two years of work experience or less.

Result

When Aliana came to us, her biggest challenge was making her very impressive life fit into 500 words. Her initial draft came in at almost 2,000 words. Let’s face it, it’s hard to sum up your entire life and future ambitions—what motivated them and how you arrived them—all in one page. We helped her to understand how the admissions committee reads essays, helping her to focus on connecting lines from her to the school in order to make a strong case for the right “fit”.

Outcome

We knew with this one going in that our chances were slim, but Aliana was thrilled with the applications. She was invited to interview at two schools and ultimately got admitted to her top choice—NYU Stern. Not every candidate fits neatly into that banker/consultant/Google product manager box. Not everyone has a 3.8 PGA from Yale and a 730 GMAT. But Aliana’s case proves that with the right school selection and application strategy, no school is off limits.

Bottom Line

Final GRE Score

158Q/161V

Accepted

NYU Stern
USC Marshall

Waitlisted

Columbia

Rejected

UCLA Anderson


We help you capture the vital elements that top MBA and graduate schools looks for in your personal statement. Below is a side-by-side comparison of Aliana’s initial draft to NYU Stern and the final version that led to his acceptance.

Before


NYU Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
What are your short and long-term career goals? How will the MBA help you achieve them? (500 words)

My short-term goals are to earn a master's degree at the intersection of technology and business and to work as a Senior Product Manager at Bumble, Glossier, Spotify, or Lemonade. Doing so will prepare me to achieve my long-term goal of building a company at the intersection of luxury fashion and technology. I specifically chose these companies because their priorities are in line with those that I imagine for my own company. Working at one of these companies will teach me how to build a company based on the notion that optimal UI/UX and continuous, data-backed iterations are key to building a loyal customer base with high retention. Additionally, I deeply admire the leadership and the philanthropic basis on which these founders have built their companies. Bumble has been instrumental in fighting for women’s rights. Glossier celebrates beauty of all types, colors, shapes, and sizes and helps individuals feel comfortable in their own skin. Lemonade donates leftover insurance premiums to charities. These companies make their users feel like they are special, like they are a part of something greater.

The combination of NYU’s business and tech coursework, Stern Solutions, and diversity in student organizations will empower me to achieve these goals. As a product manager, the ability to effectively communicate with engineers is critical. Courses such as Technical Product Management, DevOps and Software Engineering, and Dealing with Data will significantly improve my technological abilities and understanding, and thus my communication with engineers. Such skills will also help me in hiring a winning team when I pursue my own venture.

Involvement with Stern student organizations will enable me to collaborate with my peers, leverage NYU’s alumni network, and network with industry professionals. I am particularly interested in joining leadership roles within Stern Technology Association, Stern Women in Business, and Stern Luxury & Retail Club. Programs such as Winter Immersion and Tech Solutions will immerse me into the tech ecosystem by allowing me to apply my in-class business and technical learnings to solve real world problems.

My long-term goal is to start a company disrupting the fashion industry by leveraging technology and the skills I would gain through NYU’s Tech MBA and my senior product management experience. This company, Truvale, which I hope to have the opportunity to further delve into through Stern’s wide array of resources, would present to avid fashionistas a new way to shop. Truvale aims to redesign the typical e-commerce experience to maximize shopper’s time and satisfaction. Think of it as the Google of fashion. Truvale will tailor the shopping experience toward each shopper’s style, such that we will make it easy for shoppers to find what they didn’t even know they were looking for.

Current e-commerce platforms display thousands of products for users to browse. Such a mechanism bombards shoppers with wide arrays of products that shoppers would never purchase for the simple reason that it does not meet their tastes and needs. This process is frustrating and inefficient. Truvale, on the other hand, is limiting product exposure only to products that are relevant to each shoppers’ style preferences, making the purchase decision quick and seamless. When consumers are presented with too many options, they face the “paradox of choice”. The plethora of options broadens the consumers’ possibilities, making it harder for them to make a decision because “making the best choice entails a greater number of complications and incurs higher choice costs” (Kinjo). As a result, consumers tend not to make a purchase and leave unhappy.

Truvale will make shopping seamless by truly understanding each shopper’s personal style. Thus, the platform will personalize product offerings to meet each shopper’s individual style preferences. Shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

The vast array of opportunities presented by the NYU Tech MBA, such as the abilities to develop a strong network of driven people, utilize startup resources, and leverage NYC as a hub of fashion and technology, will enable me to confidently build Truvale. Because NYU values diversity and high IQ and EQ, I hope to find potential co-founders and team members who complement my skill set to join Truvale. Leadership involvement with organizations like the Stern Entrepreneurship & Startup Association will give me the opportunity to work and build relationships with like minded students who also have an entrepreneurial drive and learn from experienced entrepreneurs who have built successful startups.

My coursework and student organization involvement will prepare me to compete in the NYU Stern New Venture Competition. This 8-month challenge comprised of how-to-workshops, hands-on boot camps, and one-on-one coaching sessions will help me take Truvale from idea to launch. I will have the opportunity to develop an MVP, conduct user testing, and continuously iterate my product based on data and user feedback in order to prepare for a successful launch.

NYU’s New York City location is also a significant driver in helping me achieve my long-term goals. NYC has historically been the fashion capital of the US. In recent years, the NYC tech scene has also grown tremendously, essentially turning the city into the perfect hub of fashion and technology. Such a location is perfect for me to establish Truvale because while I’ll have access to cutting edge technology, engineers, and data scientists, I’ll also be encircled by fashion experts. I’m also extremely excited to experience the fast-paced, driven energy of the city!

The three cornerstones of how I work to live a life of purpose, meaning, and joy include giving back, constant learning and self-improvement, and being active. I model my principle of giving back after the timeless Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, i.e. the social responsibility of individuals to repair the world. During the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I spent one month in Israel, where I discovered Save a Child’s Heart (SACH). I was immediately captivated by SACH’s twofold mission to provide life-saving heart surgery pro bono to children who otherwise would not have a chance at living and to train the doctors in these children’s countries to become self-sufficient. SACH mends hearts regardless regardless of religion, nationality, and gender, and to me, this act is the pure definition of Tikkun Olam.

When I returned from my Israel trip, I began contemplating how I could get myself and others involved in SACH. I decided to start a SACH club at my high school and spent the course of 10 months planning a fashion show fundraiser to benefit SACH. Throughout this process, I recruited and led 40 models, 3 videographers, 9 photographers, 13 volunteers, and 11 vendors. My team and I, raised about $5,000 for SACH by selling show tickets, acquiring donations from sponsors, and featuring a clothing and jewelry boutique prior to the fashion show. Partners included Free People, Paul Mitchell, and Primitive. The Mayor of Calabasas for recognized me for the show’s success.

A few summers after the fashion show, I volunteered full time at the SACH House in Israel, where I lived with the children who were recovering from their surgeries. I supervised 30+ children and led groups in educational and therapeutic activities in order to aid their recovery processes and offer emotional support. By maintaining the SACH House daily schedule and overseeing routine hospital checks, I had the chance to witness firsthand the incredible difference SACH was making in these children’s lives. A few months later, I was awarded with the SACH Lauren Winkler National Young Leadership Award, at the second annual SACH gala, that recognizes leaders who have excelled in efforts to support SACH.

Most recently, I have been leading the SACH Los Angeles Young Leadership Group. This past June, I led a team of 10 young professionals in planning a fitness fundraiser in partnership with SoulCycle, in which we hosted a SoulCycle class to benefit SACH. Through this event, we raised over $5,000 from 82 donors. We are actively planning additional events in our community to educate others about SACH’s mission and raise funds.

My love for learning about the world and its people, religions, and cultures, in addition to seeking ways in which to be the best version of myself has inspired me to travel, read books, and listen to podcasts. Throughout my life, I have traveled to 20 countries and over 75 states, provinces, cities, and villages. I have traveled with friends, with family, on organized trips, and even alone. Whether it be hiking the beautiful trails overlooking the Ligurian Sea from Manarola to Vernazza, or ATVing through ancient Greek villages, with each trip, I discover something knew about myself and the world that opens my mind to new ideas and possibilities.

My strong passion to learn from those around me has also encouraged me to reach out to heroes of mine in the business world in order to learn from their incredible journeys. I had the opportunity to speak with moguls like Michael Mente, Founder & CEO at REVOLVE and Eva Chen, Director of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram, who have taught me the importance of intellectual collaboration and creative innovation. The lessons I have learned from them, combined with those which I have gained through my diverse work experiences, have played a large role in my execution of several startup projects.

During my time at USC, I led two teams on startup projects and worked on one startup project of my own through the entrepreneurship program. For my success in USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, I was awarded with the Bonnie Dale Scholarship for $5,000. In addition, I was selected out of 150 students to be awarded with the “Top Venture Feasibility Award” based on my business plan, customer discovery, and pitch for my proposed venture. The two main startup projects I developed were StorMe, a peer-to-peer, short-term storage marketplace that enables individuals (guests) to store their belongings in the unused spaces of others’ (hosts) homes, and Cross, a smartphone and desktop application that allows users to centralize all of their audio platforms into one control center. For these startups, I led my teams in: conducting market research and competitive analysis; discovering product market fit through surveys and interviews with potential users and industry experts; conducting user testing; setting and testing pricing models; and creating and iterating on UI/UX through user journey maps, user personas, storyboards, wireframes, MVPs, and product prototypes.

The last piece of my foundation for living a purposeful and good life is being active. I have played sports all my life since I was 4 years old when my parents enrolled me in junior basketball classes at my local park. About 6 years ago, I began training in Krav Maga, literally contact combat, or the self-defense system was developed for the Israel Defense Forces and is derived from combining techniques from boxing, wrestling, judo, aikido, and karate. Krav Maga has taught me the value of teamwork, discipline, and hard work in all aspects of my life. Moving up in levels for Krav Maga requires an intense amount of training and focus. To earn my green belt, i.e. level 3 of 5 in Krav Maga, I trained consistently for at least 10 hours/week for 1 year and took an 8 hour belt test conducted by instructors who are third degree black belts.

After


NYU Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
What are your short and long-term career goals? How will the MBA help you achieve them? (500 words)

I intend to leverage the knowledge, skills and professional network I acquire at Stern, combine that with my Senior Product Management experience, to start Truvale--a digital platform that customizes the shopping experiences of avid fashionistas. Truvale will employ AI and modernized machine learning to transform the user’s e-commerce experience. Before that, however, I need a blended education in general management and technology so that I can achieve my post-MBA short term goal of working as a Senior Product Manager at Bumble, Glossier, or Lemonade--three companies whose socially-driven corporate mission and digital philosophy of optimizing UI/UX through data-backed iterations, is in line with what I imagine for Truvale.

Building and managing teams of like-minded people is something I am familiar with, both in my work and my volunteer involvement with Save a Child’s Heart. In organizing our annual signature event, a fashion show fundraiser, I manage volunteers, acquire high-profile sponsors, solicit donors and manage the event coordination. Interestingly enough, my involvement with SACH has simultaneously stoked my passion for fashion and business technology, while also highlighting knowledge gaps that the right MBA would help fill. Whereas creating and managing teams of like-minded people at SACH is second nature to me, communicating effectively with intellectually diverse cross-functional teams--a vital skill for any product manager--is an area I need to improve.

Courses such as Technical Product Management, DevOps and Software Engineering, and Dealing with Data will teach me to communicate more meaningfully with data scientists and engineers. Stern Solutions, along with the rich intellectual and cultural student environment, will also help me in hiring a winning team when I pursue my own venture. I am particularly interested in leadership roles within Stern Technology Association, Stern Women in Business, and Stern Luxury & Retail Club. Programs such as Winter Immersion and Tech Solutions will immerse me in the tech ecosystem, while the experiential learning focus of the Koo Tech MBA will allow me to leverage classroom knowledge to solve industry problems. Upon graduation, I will hone those business skills for several years as a senior product manager, later leveraging that experience and education to better create, understand and communicate cross-functionally to build the technological infrastructure for Truvale.

Being in a hub of fashion and technology such as NYC, the Tech MBA provides three key ingredients for my career progression in product innovation and marketing: (1) Rich professional network of creatives and business analysts; (2) Ample startup resources and capital markets; (3) Faculty comprised of industry professionals focused on solving big problems. These features, along with Stern’s New Venture Competition, will be the perfect beta testing ground for my newfound managerial and technological skills. Post-MBA, I see myself working in product management for Glossier, Lemonade, Bumble, or a company in NYC at the vanguard of fashion and technology, such as FarFetch. Five years after that, having honed my managerial skills and refined my ability to strategically analyze business problems, my attention will turn to Truvale.