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Re: I would love an Evaluation! Management/OB ‘22.
Before I start, I'm in marketing, not OB. But my research has some connections with OB.
As you said, not a traditional profile. You need to really think how you're going to sell your application.
You're smart and you can get things done. That part is good.
However, the focus of a PhD is usually academic research. And your profile often suggests that you are someone to work in industry or government, not academia.
Sure, university resources can help you to get what you want. But is that what universities are looking for? A PhD is like a job. When you look for a job, saying that you want to use the company's resources for your own benefit, for your own ideals, is not really a good selling point. What do you have to offer?
For example, prediction is something very strong in industry. And, in that case, people are happy as long as your predictions are good. But, in academia, we are usually more worried about establishing causality and developing the theoretical explanations. If you say that you want to predict things, I think many professors will tell you to stay in industry.
Helping to elect a mayor is not what we do, it's usually for people outside academia. It's an amazing accomplishment, but not academic research.
You also sound like someone who hungers for fast major changes in the world, to have a big impact. People may get worried about you feeling frustrated with the slow pace of academia, the very narrow contribution and focus of our projects, the more abstract stuff that we sometimes study forgetting about the real world, and all the dead ends that we face in academia. It's easy to feel frustrated when things are moving very slowly, or not moving at all, when you could be out there making the changes in the world that you seem to crave.
You enjoy breaking barriers, but academic research is usually about filling small cracks instead of breaking barriers. Schools can admire your profile, but conclude that they won't be doing you any favors by accepting you to a program if they think you would be unhappy working with academic research.
So, my recommendation is to really understand what is academic research (specially in your field), how that is different from the things you have done. And then see how to convince schools that you really want to leave all that stuff you have done before to follow a career doing academic research. Or, if you don't want to do academic research, find the programs which are ok with that (many aren't).
And your research interests seem very vague. "Intersect between AI tools and OB" doesn't really tell us much. I have no idea what variables, concepts, theoretical frameworks, motivate you. And, depending on what happens during your PhD, your advisor may conclude that you should use something else instead of AI. Usually, you don't choose a tool before you deeply understand the problems you're trying to fix. I've seen professors complaining about too many people wanting to use things like machine learning (because that's what they know how to do and how trendy that is, for example) instead of developing a wider and stronger tool kit.