Careers

This guy will help get you into Harvard Business School — if you donate to charity

Harvard Business School students cheer as their MBA degrees are conferred during commencement ceremonies at Harvard University
Bloomberg | Getty
Harvard Business School students cheer as their MBA degrees are conferred during commencement ceremonies at Harvard University

Jeng Yang Chia wants to help you get into Harvard.

He's one of the successes of the prestigious business school's rigorous admissions process, so he figures he's pretty well placed.

But he's not trying to make himself a quick buck. In fact, he's offering the advice for free. All he asks is that you make a donation to charity.

Chia said it's his way of putting his experience to use while giving something back to society.

"I am not in any way financially compensated for my time, though we both get to sleep with a warm fuzzy feeling tonight," Chia writes in his newly launched GIVE.asia fundraising page.

The 25-year-old's 30-minute Skype sessions promise to dispel some of the illusions about the process, while helping prospective students frame their personal stories. However, Chia said he won't assist with writing or editing applications, nor will he sugar-coat his guidance.

"You may receive feedback that you may not expect or appreciate," his fundraising page reads. "This is part of the process."

Jeng Yang Chia, senior operations manager at Antler, hopes to help prospective MBA students with his charitable venture
Jeng Yang Chia, senior operations manager at Antler, hopes to help prospective MBA students with his charitable venture

Chia, who is from Singapore, has yet to take his place at the school — he is part of the 2+2 Program, which allows him to defer his offer while he gains work experience — but he said the idea was born as soon as he go his offer. The venture has received no direct input from Harvard itself.

"I got into Harvard Business School, and one thing I and others in the cohort realized is that you get flooded by students who are trying to apply," Chia told CNBC Make It, referencing countless LinkedIn requests.

"Because we've been there, we never say no," he continued. "But the kind of people applying to business school tend to have some funding, so I felt there was an opportunity to help others."

There is no minimum donation for Chia's advice, though he has set a suggested rate of $50 per session — well below the "thousands to tens of thousands" professionals charge for the service, he said. Applicants can choose to donate to one of Chia's five selected charities, including The Salvation Army (Singapore) and Beyond Social Services.

What kind of advice can you expect?

Chia, who currently works as a senior operations manager at start-up generator Antler, said he intends to use his "200 to 300 hours" worth of application research, and his experience of the interview, to help others succeed in Harvard's two-stage application process.

He said much of his advice is applicable to MBA submissions beyond Harvard, though.

For instance, "there's this misconception that business schools are looking for a particular type of person, like a tech guy," noted Chia.

Instead, business schools look for the top people across a variety of industries or "buckets," he said. Chia's own bucket was a niche combination of law, tech, business and public policy.

"You should think of business schools as venture capitalist firms," he said. "They're looking to fund the top 10 percent across all industries" rather than just one select group.

Chia recommended figuring out where your specialist strengths lie and how they can be of use, both in your MBA and in the future.

"It's about being able to define the bucket you fit into and then showing how you're in that top 10 percent of that bucket," he said.

"That forces you to direct yourself in terms of your career trajectory."

More details of Chia's advice sessions can be found on his GIVE.asia page.

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