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Friday, September 2, 2011

The TV Show that Best Mirrors the MBA Admissions Process

Some would guess the Apprentice or Survior are more reflective of the MBA admissions process given their cutthroat nature, latent sexual tension, and winner take all mentality. For those who are curious about that list, yes, despite a 2:1 male/female ratio, one can generally cut the sexual tension in an MBA classroom with a food processor. However, that's a common mistake MBA applicants make. For a guide to how to approach the MBA admissions process, there is no better show than the Glee Project.

The Glee Project is a singing, acting, and dancing competition where the cast member wins a spot on the TV show Glee. It is generally assumed that the winner will play a socially awkward, downtrodden character who is an underdog who dares to dream and fight for the dreams. While most MBA applicants would like to identify with the cooler kids in school, in truth they have a lot more in common with the members of the Glee club. Thus, it makes sense that the selection process for both is a parallel as opposed to a paradigm shift (One always gets a bonus in MBA school for using buzz words like paradigm shift). Here is an episode by episode example:

  • Vulnerability: In this episode, characters are expected to exhibit their vulnerability in one word. It requires introspection and brevity which are two things that are difficult for the average MBA applicant. The vulnerability is important because it shows the real side of the candidate (for both Glee and MBA programs) and allows both admissions committees a chance to understand more about them as a person. Everyone is vulnerable and has issues. The candidate who presents themselve as having never failed and expects the evaluation to be a victory lap is an incomplete candidate. The introspection that comes with identifying vulnerabilities also shows an ability to indentify true career passions and goals. This is an MBA candidate that will not have a herd mentality and truly take advantage of the program.

  • Pairability: In this episode, the Glee Project cast pair up to perform and in some cases, kiss. MBA programs involve teams or pairs to manage work and projects. This is not exactly a stretch nor should be a surprise. The message for MBA candidates is that better essays should demonstrate team work and ability to work in teams rather than a desire to work independently and be a lone wolf.

  • Believability: Characters were critiqued for trying to put on appearances and not being themselves and inviting the audience in. For the TV show, this was about connecting with the audience, creating believable characters, and not being one-dimensional. Diva-esqe characters were encouraged to show other sides, the scrappy underdog was encouraged to show that he can be a leading man, the cool, dread-locked cast member was encouraged to try using a different facial expression. The cast member who tried to be perfect was told that no one believed that she was perfect. That is an especially important message for MBA candidates as admissions will never believe that a candidate is perfect so no one should position themselves accordingly. Successful MBA candidates will show multiple sides of their personalities in their essays.

  • Damian: Damian is not an episode but a cast member from Ireland with a great Irish accent and incredibly mobile eye brows. When he was really nervous, his eye brows looked like they were going to jump off his face. He was clearly identifed as not the most talented and had to scrap to not be eliminated in the final song in almost every episode. Yet he was one of the two winners in the Lake Wobegone-esque season finale. His personality was very clear and enthralled everyone despite not having the same level of talents as others. This a key lesson for MBA applicants which is the importance of showing your personality in essays. A talented personable candidate will trump a more talented candidate who comes across as too perfect.

All the cast members of the Glee Project were very talented with resumes that included long histories of acting, singing, and dancing competitively. Some were also ridiculously good-looking. Some had really bright blue eyes that were kind of innerving. In summary, they mirrored the MBA admissions pool for top schools (except for the bright blue eyes).

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