Not surprisingly, one of the most common questions we receive from MBA candidates is “Will I get in?” Of course, this is an important question to consider before applying, and we suggest that you honestly assess and understand your candidacy and risk profile within the context of your target school’s typical student body before completing or submitting an application to that school. However, once you have determined that you will in fact apply to a particular school, you should not let this question haunt you or halt your progress. Many applicants spend too much time worrying and not enough time working. Your admissions decision is ultimately out of your control, so just focus on submitting the best application you possibly can.
Another common question is rooted in professional situations such as the following:
“I am self-employed.”
“I am a vice president in my family’s business.”
“I am a freelancer.”
“I am a contract consultant.”
If you can describe your situation using any of these statements—or something very similar—you may very well be thinking, “I have no supervisor! Who is going to write my recommendations?”
Before we address this problem, let us first remind you that MBA admissions committees have seen it all. Your situation is most likely not unique, so you do not need to fret. Let us consider the example of the family business vice president and add a detail—that the family business is manufacturing. This hypothetical MBA candidate could contact one of the company’s long-standing clients or suppliers, who may be able to write about the applicant’s integrity, growth, sense of humor, determination, and more, all in relation to other comparable individuals.
If these constituents were not able to offer adequate feedback, however, the candidate might instead ask the head of a trade association or possibly even a respected competitor to write on his/her behalf. If the applicant really needed to get creative, he/she might even consider asking a service provider—for example, getting a letter of reference from an architectural firm that collaborated with the candidate to build a new manufacturing facility could be an interesting solution.
In short, most MBA candidates have more potential recommenders to choose among than they realize. Keep looking and try not to get discouraged—someone out there knows you well and can write objectively on your behalf.