Does my (big, big, big) failure from 4+ years ago preclude my getting into a good business school?
Four years ago, this
was me. Since then, good news! I've discovered that at I was NOT doomed to be professionally ineffective for the remainder of my life. Therapy was had. Ambition returned, but with a healthy dose of realism.
I have a (non-computer science) technical background, so when I came to and returned to work full-time a few months after that post [I was careful to quickly pick up some part-time work so I could eat], it was as an engineer in a F500 manufacturing company. I'm happy to say I've done pretty well: after a few years of work and stellar performance reviews, I've gotten nice raises and moved into one of the corporate leadership rotational programs. Weirdly enough, failing in a big way at 23 meant that I could take little failures at work in stride, identify early on when my morale or that of my peers was dropping (and act accordingly), grow comfortable with risk, and keep perspective and a level head. Acting with memory of that failure also pushes me twice as hard, and in hindsight, it generally made me a better performer than I'd have been otherwise. Or so I like to think.
Anyhow, at this point, I'm generally happy and healthy, and have a genuine interest in returning to school for an MBA. I'd like to specialize in operations, be exposed to a new set of peers, and learn more about corporate finance and general management. I'll likely apply to a mix of part-time programs (in which case, I'd receive full tuition from my company), and full-time programs (where I wouldn't).
So here's the actual question: How screwed am I for business school applications? I'm pretty sure that my quitting Teach for America four years ago puts me out of consideration at top-tier schools (although I intend to apply to a couple programs of interest, anyway), but how bad is it? I have difficulty assessing the hit to my admissions chances.