Dealing with Impostor Syndrome at B-School

When you have your sights set on one of the top business schools in the world, you probably feel rather confident that your skills and experiences will sufficiently sway the admissions committee to take a …

When you have your sights set on one of the top business schools in the world, you probably feel rather confident that your skills and experiences will sufficiently sway the admissions committee to take a closer look at your application.

However, despite that confidence, many accepted candidates go through a period of self-doubt once they start learning more about all of the amazing people they will be working alongside in class.

If you take a look at Poets & Quants‘s terrific series highlighting noteworthy members of the Class of 2018, you’ll see that the elite programs worldwide have admitted candidates from all walks of life, from skydivers, former White House employees, chess champions, Navy Seals and rocket scientists, to opera singers, cheese experts, and professional dancers.

With all of these impressive backgrounds, anyone might feel intimidated or experience self-doubt about whether you’re acceptance was…maybe…a mistake? That’s why we think this post from the INSEAD MBA Experience blog is an important read for both applicants and the newly admitted.

Everywhere I turn at INSEAD, I see bright, talented, young people, with rich life experiences, careers spanning several countries and incredible stories. And when I hear all that, I quietly think to myself: “What am I doing here? These people are so amazing, have such incredible career successes, they sound extraordinary compared to my puny engineering background… how did I ever get in?”

Yann Parer, MBA ’17D, writes frankly about impostor syndrome: “A psychological condition in which the subject, usually a high achiever, is convinced that they are not deserving of their success.”

When you’re used to being the smartest person in the room, it’s very unnerving to suddenly find yourself completely surrounded by gifted individuals.  “In the face of such talent and success you feel like your own personal achievements are trivial,” he explains.

Take a look at Parer’s post and see what conclusions he has arrived at regarding impostor syndrome now that he’s six weeks into the INSEAD program. We promise, you’ll feel much better about your own possible affliction!

You may also be interested in:

CBS Professor Offers 5 Tips to Boost Your Self-Confidence
4 Bad Reasons to Skip Applying for B-School 
Don’t Let Fear Derail Your MBA Dreams

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Harvard Celebrates New Venture Competition’s 20th Anniversary

In April, Harvard Business School students and alumni will compete for $300,000 in cash prizes to fund their startup dreams in the 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition. Past competition winners and participants will also return …

In April, Harvard Business School students and alumni will compete for $300,000 in cash prizes to fund their startup dreams in the 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition. Past competition winners and participants will also return to campus for programs and a celebratory 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition Finale on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

The school is offering its biggest prizes to date, with a $75,000 Grand Prize for top winners in the Student Business, Student Social Enterprise, and Alumni competitions. Additional prizes are a $25,000 Runner-Up Prize, $5,000 Audience Award, and in-kind services. Previously the Grand Prize was $50,000 in each category.

More than 200 judges will vigorously review the new ventures in several rounds of judging. Past winners include Rent the Runway, Birchbox, and GrabTaxi.

“The New Venture Competition is critical to entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School,” says Jodi Gernon, Director of the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, which oversees the student and alumni business tracks of the competition. “Competition winners say it was the launching point of their businesses, helped them to attract funding, and gave them the confidence, exposure, and skills to found companies.”

Matt Segneri, Director of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, which manages the social enterprise track, says, “The winning teams developed innovative approaches—using for-profit, nonprofit and hybrid models—to tackle society’s toughest challenges, including HIV prevention and K-12 education reform.”

171 alumni teams applied in January and are being judged in 15 regions. Four alumni teams will make it to the semifinals to present and be judged at the April Finale at HBS. More than 70 student teams on the business track and 48 social entrepreneurs have already applied in advance of the March 8 deadline.

HBS also offers workshops and other support for students. You can learn more about the New Venture Competition at hbs.edu/nvc and track Harvard Business School’s 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition on Twitter at #HBSNVC.

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NYU Stern Launches Digital Business Certificate

Digital technology is redefining business models and transforming industries from finance to fashion at an unprecedented pace. In response, NYU Stern School of Business is introducing a new Advanced Professional Certificate (APC) in Digital Business. …

Digital Business certificate

Digital technology is redefining business models and transforming industries from finance to fashion at an unprecedented pace. In response, NYU Stern School of Business is introducing a new Advanced Professional Certificate (APC) in Digital Business.

At companies leading this transformation, technical professionals find they need to understand the business implications of technology as they progress to product planning and managerial roles, and non-technical professionals need to understand the fundamentals of digital technology to advance within their organizations. Stern’s new certificate will address these unmet needs.

Working professionals with or without an MBA may apply to the APC program to take five courses alongside Stern MBA students in the School’s Langone Part-time MBA program. APC students can earn their certificate in digital business in as few as two semesters and will have up to two years to complete it.

“Most of the top digital economy companies have a home base in New York City, many in Silicon Alley just a few blocks from Stern,” said Yannis Bakos, Associate Professor of Information Systems and Faculty Director of the APC in Digital Business.

“Employees in these companies can take top-tier MBA courses during evenings or weekends, and deepen their understanding of digital technology and digital business in a short amount of time. They can better assess whether a full MBA program might be the next step for them, or they can update a degree they earned before digital business was part of the MBA curriculum,” Bakos said.

APC students without an MBA may choose to apply to Stern’s Langone Part-time MBA program while pursuing their certificate. If admitted, these students can apply their APC credits towards the Langone Part-time MBA as long as they do so prior to receiving their APC certificate.

APC in Digital Business course offerings include classes on digital strategy; data mining; business analytics; digital marketing; digital media; and statistics and data analysis. As part of the admissions process, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, two years of work experience and submit either a GMAT or GRE score, or proof of an MBA degree. Candidates may apply to start courses in the Fall or Spring semester.

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6 Ways to Play the MBA Waiting Game

After months of planning, studying for the admissions exam, writing essays, and wrangling recommenders, once you hit the submit button for your business school applications you’ve probably been wondering what to do with yourself during the MBA waiting game. Here …

MBA wait listAfter months of planning, studying for the admissions exam, writing essays, and wrangling recommenders, once you hit the submit button for your business school applications you’ve probably been wondering what to do with yourself during the MBA waiting game. Here are six tips to make the most of this period.

1. Be happy: What did you enjoy before essays and GMAT scores became the focal point of your life? Take this opportunity to relax a bit, read a book, or go for a run.

It’s likely your social life has languished on the back burner for the past few months, so spend some time reconnecting with your family and friends before every waking minute is spent job hunting and networking with your fellow MBA classmates. While accomplishing a huge goal such as gaining admission to an MBA program will feel good, friends, exercise, and relationships are the path to longer-lasting happiness.

2. Fantasize about your plan B: It’s tempting to start planning out your first few weeks on campus—the clubs you plan to join and the apartment you will hunt for—but reminding yourself that you have alternatives is healthy. You’re young, intelligent, and accomplished. If you didn’t go to business school in the fall, what career shift or huge dream might you fulfill?

Maybe you would flee to Paris and take art lessons, learn Mandarin (in China), or hike the Appalachian Trail. Fantasizing about plan B is more practical than you think; when you start receiving those acceptance letters, you’ll have a head start on your summer plans!

3. Avoid discussion boards: While commiserating with strangers over the Internet may seem like an attractive outlet for your anxiety, focusing on an outcome you can no longer control will only add to stress in your life. While it’s certainly positive to network with your potential future classmates, make sure you approach any rumors or myths with a balanced perspective.

It is natural to search for certainty in an uncertain process. With admission rates hovering at 10 percent for the most competitive programs, many candidates feel anxiety about the final decisions. However, if you have put together the strongest possible application you can and worked to impact every factor under your control, it’s time to relax and wait for the results.

4. Prepare for interviews: If you absolutely must remain focused on your MBA plans, starting your interview prep is a good outlet for your energy. Working on your communication and presentation skills can be an ongoing challenge.

Practicing common interview questions with friends and family will both make you more prepared when the interview invitation arrives and minimize your anxiety.

5. Become a local, even if only for a few days: MBA candidates should remember that they will be choosing not just a school but a city or town as well. Therefore, now is an ideal time to plan that campus visit, and to explore the region you may soon call home for the next two years.

6. Stay connected: Demonstrating continued and genuine interest in your MBA program of choice is one of the best ways to show the admissions committee that you are strongly committed to attending their program. How to do this? Reach out to alumni for an insider view of the program, and perhaps some interview pointers as well.

If the school plans to hold an information session online or in a city nearby, sign up or show up. You can never have too much information about your target school. The more opportunities you create to connect with the program, the better you’ll be able to judge its culture and community to determine if it’s the right fit for you.

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Do’s and Don’ts of the MBA Group Interview

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Competition for a seat at a top business school has never been fiercer. With so many strong, polished applications coming across their desks, …

teamwork MBA group interviews

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Competition for a seat at a top business school has never been fiercer. With so many strong, polished applications coming across their desks, admissions committees at various MBA programs have turned to group or team interviews to help make crucial admit decisions.

On paper, you can wow your evaluator with interesting work experience, stellar GMAT or GRE scores and compelling MBA essays, but none of these criterion can demonstrate how well you work with others – a crucial component of the business school experience.

Each school conducts the group interview somewhat differently – including some being optional exercises – though the task is usually to have applicants work together and solve real-world business scenarios.

The exercise demonstrates how candidates approach and analyze specific situations and their interpersonal skills, two critical components of business schools that have a team-focused learning style. Observing how you interact with peers prior to admission gives the school important clues as to what kind of student you would be if admitted.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for standing out in a group interview. While you can’t predict the group’s unique dynamic, you can prepare for the interview and increase your comfort level when the big day arrives.

Do prepare in advance: When possible, find ways to speak out more in groups or meetings at work. Applicants to the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor’s Ross School of Business receive no advance specifics on the team-based exercise, but if you’re applying to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll receive your discussion prompt prior to the interview.

Spend an hour in advance prepping for the discussion. If possible, gather a group of three or four other people and conduct a mock discussion.

Spend time studying up on the topic so you’re ready to discuss the problem in detail during the interview but try not get too attached to your own ideas. Staying flexible is key.

Don’t dominate the conversation: During the group interview, remind yourself that this isn’t a competition against others in your group – there’s no need to try to prove you’re the most brilliant mind in the room.

Encourage fellow participants to advance the conversation and help reach a solution. That said, don’t get distressed if you find yourself in a group with weaker participants. This won’t affect your admissions outcome since the observers focus solely on how you handle yourself with diverse players.

Do show you’re an active listener: A huge part of being an active listener is being open and flexible to different points of view, especially opposing viewpoints.

Even if you think you know what another person is trying to say, don’t interrupt and try to finish the thought. This sends a subtle signal that you believe your ideas are better or more important than the speaker’s.

If a group member has a good idea, acknowledge it. Also practice the “Yes, and …” rule from improvisation and build on what the other person has shared. During the interview, seize any opportunities to do this or refer to someone else’s point.

Don’t let your body language trip you up: Effective listening also involves body language. If you roll your eyes, cross your arms or display any other kind of negative body language, you’ll come across as hostile – that’s not the type of person others want on their team.

Make eye contact with the other participants when they speak, face your body toward them and ask clarifying questions when helpful. If your preparation includes mock discussions with friends or colleagues, record the session and take note of your body language, how often you interrupt or any tendencies you have to try to control the discussion.

Often, we’re unaware of these traits until we see them for ourselves. Once you know, you can actively avoid them during the interview.

Do prioritize the group’s goal: Groups that work well together impress the admissions committee, and your group is competing against other groups of applicants.

Forgo attempts to grab extra airtime for yourself, and put the team’s goal front and center. Take notes, and help keep the group on track. You’ll only have a short amount of time – 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the school – for the task.

Since many MBA applicants are born leaders and are used to taking charge, you’ll need to be conscious of the fact that you might be surrounded by lots of Type A personalities and need to adjust your style accordingly. Encourage shy participants to speak up more, suggest different approaches if the group seems stuck in a dead end and offer to summarize if the conversation has reached a point where everyone would benefit from a quick recap.

Great leaders come in many forms, but they usually have one thing in common: the ability to listen and work well with others. Whether you are an introvert or the life of the party, you can succeed in a group interview. Remember these simple steps and embrace the uncertainties of the experience, keep a positive attitude and enjoy this opportunity to start building your MBA network before you’ve even been admitted.

Image credit: Flickr user SESCSP (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Do These 4 Exercises Now to Crystallize Your Post-MBA Career Path

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who stays with one company or even one industry throughout his or her entire professional life. If you’re looking for the fast track to gain the …

Determining Career GoalsThese days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who stays with one company or even one industry throughout his or her entire professional life. If you’re looking for the fast track to gain the skills and network to launch your career in a new direction, a popular way to do so is through an MBA program. In fact, by some estimates, two-thirds or more of graduating MBAs use the degree as a means of switching careers.

The skills typically strengthened during an MBA – leadership, intellectual creativity, analysis and critical thinking, cross-cultural awareness, communication, even greater IT mastery – will serve you well as you find your way toward your ultimate career goal.

But what if you’re having trouble distilling what that goal is? Julia Zupko, Assistant Dean for Career Development at the Yale School of Management, recently tackled this very topic.

Most people don’t spend enough time proactively managing their careers, and time and again Zupko has encountered applicants whose post-college career path was greatly influenced by family or friends, campus recruiting limitations, or the heavy burden of student loan debt.

Before you launch into the MBA admissions process, take time for some serious introspection to determine what you have liked or disliked about your professional experiences thus far. What awoke your passions or bored you to tears?

To help you with this process, Zupko recommends four exercises to get you thinking deeply about your post-MBA career goals:

At My Best
The At My Best exercise focuses on peak experiences—an amazing accomplishment you’re proud of, a transformational personal experience—where you’re at your best and fully leveraging your strengths.
Available through: StrengthsQuest Activity Workbook

Job Envy
Think about jobs you have heard about and think you would enjoy. After conducting the job envy exercise, you can review your notes to identify job themes.
Available through: Discovering Your Career in Business, Tim Butler and Jim Waldroop

Letters about You
Choose at least five people who know you really well to write a letter to you. Ask them to answer questions like: What would be the ideal career for you? What are your blind spots?
Available through: Discovering Your Career in Business, Tim Butler and Jim Waldroop

StrengthsFinder
Decades of Gallup research have proved that when individuals have the opportunity to discover their natural talents and purposely develop them into strengths, the effect on individual and organizational performance is transformational.

You can take Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to discover your top five strengths. Your results will include a Signature Theme report detailing those top five strengths, what they mean, and how they are typically recognized and applied.
Available through: www.gallupstrengthscenter.com; $15 for assessment and bestselling StrengthsFinder 2.0 e-book

“While it may seem early, now is the time to catalogue those likes and dislikes, to read and learn more about positions you see in the employment reports of business school graduates, and to think deeply about yourself—what strengths you want to leverage in the future, what values and motivators are critical to you in your next position,” Zupko writes.

“Doing so will help you stay true to yourself as you pursue—and eliminate—some of the various career opportunities that will be available to you during your time in business school.”

You may also be interested in:

Ask Yourself 4 Questions Before Applying to Business School

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