Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Banking/Private Debt
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 6
GMAT/GRE score: 326 (V: 162 Q: 160)
Undergraduate GPA: 3.33/4.00
Admitted to: HBS, Kellogg, Sloan
I was referred to Kathryn and the Square One Prep team by my cousins who had worked with Kathryn directly, so I had the benefit of some prior knowledge of how the process works, but I can definitely say that the work and help lived up to and surpassed the hype!
I was a bit nervous about applying to business school, and HBS in particular, due to me perceiving that my “traditional” career path in finance was uninspiring, combined with what I was told was a low GPA for HBS. However, after an introductory call with Kathryn, I quickly decided to not only apply, but also work with Square One and Kathryn directly. What impressed me so much on that call, and continued to be the case throughout the entire process, was Kathryn’s thoughtful questions, encouraging yet honest feedback, and ability to uncover the “why” and help me realize things about my past career/academic/extracurricular experiences that I didn’t even appreciate at initial reflection. Most importantly though, Kathryn always told me what I needed to hear even if at times it didn’t line up with what I wanted to hear. While it was frustrating at times, looking back on it, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This tough love was all geared towards creating a compelling, genuine, and strong candidacy.
The Square One process as a whole is extremely well-crafted and ensures that everything builds upon itself to really create a wholesome application. From the initial assessment to the school selection to the resume building to the recommender selection/recommendation package preparation to the career narrative crafting and finally the essay brainstorming/iterating, everything was so thoughtfully done and allowed me to deeply reflect on myself, my past experiences, my business school ambitions, and my ultimate career goals. Kudos to Kathryn, Bailey and the rest of the team for creating such an effective process!
Kathryn was also always available to chat and help on short notice and most hours of the day (sometimes I would wonder when Kathryn sleeps!). I had my initial intro call with Kathryn about 6/7 months before the Round 1 deadlines while I was preparing for the GRE. She was supportive and provided sound advice during that process, checking in as well to make sure that substantial progress was being made since without the GRE/GMAT there’s no application to be done at all. She was then available to chat almost weekly – at times twice a week – once we started officially working on the applications and essays themselves about 3 months ahead of the deadlines (in addition to the dialogue over the phone, we were always in constant communication via email and Kathryn was very responsive). She was always there to help me if I got stuck in my thoughts; her extensive and broad experience consulting in these applications processes was evident by how quickly she was able to absorb information and then ask the right questions to help me find clarity and/or advise on the correct path forward.
Once I received interview invitations, Kathryn’s help and guidance was invaluable. The interview prep guide helped me get ready to articulate my thoughts and experiences in a concise manner, which I can struggle to do as evidenced by the above. The mock interview debriefs were also super helpful – after each mock (we did one general behavioral one and one for HBS), Kathryn would go question by question and in a very detailed manner break down the strengths and weaknesses of each answer and provide the thoughtful and necessary feedback (again, sometimes conflicting with what I wanted to hear, but ultimately it was for my own good!) in order for me to succeed. These mocks helped me get the kinks out of my system and perform my best – and importantly be myself – on the actual interview days and eventually secure the admission offers.
I never thought HBS would be an attainable option for me, but thanks to Kathryn’s help that dream has now become a reality! I could not be more thankful for all of her guidance, and yes, the tough love too!