10 Ways to Make the Most of Your B-School Experience

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com If you’re heading to business school in the coming weeks, you’re about to embark on a transformative experience, both personally and professionally. If …

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

If you’re heading to business school in the coming weeks, you’re about to embark on a transformative experience, both personally and professionally. If you are a soon-to-be member of the MBA class of 2016, you may be wondering how to best prepare for what comes next.

Just as you spent ample time strategizing how to get into business school, you should now put together your plan for getting the most out of your MBA experience. Here’s a top ten list of things you should keep in mind as you’re bombarded with all of the wonderful, exhausting opportunities that come your way.

1. Remember your attributes as a student: Your classmates will seem to be phenomenally accomplished, and perhaps even intimidating. Don’t forget that you, too, were accepted into the class for a reason. The school believes that you have a great deal to contribute, so make sure that you do.

2. Make friends with people of all backgrounds: You’ll probably gravitate to the people like you, who are from the same country or similar backgrounds. Your MBA cohort is an extremely diverse group. If you make an effort to get to know those outside of your comfort zone, your experience will be greatly enriched.

3. Get involved in extracurriculars: If you don’t get involved with some activity outside of the classroom, you won’t be reaping the full benefit of the MBA experience. There’s a multitude of ways to get involved, and you’ll learn as much from these activities as you will from your studies. Activities will also help you with networking and give you something to talk about in your interviews.

4. Don’t put too much weight on grades: Your grades really don’t count all that much. Even if your school has a grading system, no one is going to ask about them after you graduate. So go to class to learn, but don’t study so much that you miss out on the rest of the experience.

5. Take time to explore academic options: Even if you’re entering school with a firm idea of your career goals, use this time to explore a few options. Go to diverse corporate presentations, take classes in new subjects and interview with one company outside of your focus. You may be surprised at what you discover you like.

[Here's how b-school students can choose a concentration.]

6. Be respectful of recruiters: Not long ago, most of your recruiters were in your shoes. They too are human, so be respectful but not fawning. You should go to interviews and corporate presentations prepared to have a conversation and tell them about yourself.

7. Don’t stress over internships: Even if you don’t land your dream internship, you still have a great chance at the same job full time. Summer positions are often more competitive than full-time offers.

8. Learn from your summer internships:  While plenty of people go back to their summer employer, many do not. If you end up not enjoying your summer internship, it’s still worthwhile to have had the experience and learn from it.

It’s better to find out you don’t like banking while working as an intern rather than after being hired for a full-time job. Do your best, and know that no matter what happens, it is a valuable learning experience.

9. Speak up when something bothers you: Most MBA programs are very flexible and constantly evolving. If you’re dissatisfied with some aspect of the curriculum or programming, don’t sit back and complain. Speak up and do something. Often, you’ll be able to initiate a new class, trip, club or conference.

10. Stay connected to your classmates: Remember that your classmates, whether you like them or not, are your professional network. Your class and the classes above and below you are all members of this priceless network.

While you’ll want to relax, enjoy and make friends, always keep in mind that you may network with any of these people down the line.

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Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz

Welcome to the latest edition of Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz, our periodic check-in with some of the MBA blogosphere’s applicant and student contributors. This week, MBA bloggers share tactics for analyzing test errors, highlights from …

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Welcome to the latest edition of Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz, our periodic check-in with some of the MBA blogosphere’s applicant and student contributors. This week, MBA bloggers share tactics for analyzing test errors, highlights from various information sessions, and advice for creating presentations that will knock those AdComs’ socks off.

New tactic for analyzing practice testsPro GMAT has created an Excel error log to help him figure out where his thinking went astray on the verbal side during the practice tests. He also came away with a positive impression of the ISB info session, and promises a post covering school selection soon.

Fuqua rocks!—Although the love for Duke Fuqua was already fairly firmly cemented, the recent information session PTMT attended completely sealed the deal. While Yale SOM is a strong second, she plans to apply in Early Action round because, as she says, “I can’t wait to be a part of this family.”

When three just isn’t enough—A recent conversation with a colleague/HBS grad at work spurred Scott Duncan to change plans and expand his school list from the three he had previously settled on to a robust roster of seven schools. He’s adding Wharton to the other Round 1 applications going in at Kellogg, HBS, and MIT Sloan, and will target Berkeley Haas, UCLA Anderson, and Tuck in Round 2.

Presentation advice—With her Chicago Booth presentation ready and out for review, Naija, a self-proclaimed lover of presentations, offers both basic and specific tips for creating an amazing presentation that will guide anyone feeling some angst about this element of an application package.

Do you have an MBA-centric blog? Want it featured in an upcoming B-School Buzz post? If so, email me at buzz@StacyBlackman.com.

Posted in BSchool Buzz |

HBS Admissions Director Talks GMAT/GRE Scores

Although most of the elite MBA programs now accept either the GMAT or GRE as part of the admissions process, many applicants wonder if business schools really consider the exams equally. In an attempt to …

Although most of the elite MBA programs now accept either the GMAT or GRE as part of the admissions process, many applicants wonder if business schools really consider the exams equally.

In an attempt to clarify the matter, Harvard Business School Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold recently provided a breakdown of just how many applicants submitted each test, and how many were ultimately offered a place in the program, during the 2013-2014 admissions cycle.

“Please don’t over-crunch,” Leopold urges, pointing out that the admissions team isn’t looking so much at the overall score as at the sub-scores in the context of the candidate’s profile. “An engineer with top grades doing highly quantitative work doesn’t need a high GMAT/GRE-Q to convince us he/she is capable of doing the quantitative work at HBS,” says the director.

As logic would dictate, applicants from the humanities with no quantitative coursework or professional experience need to demonstrate preparedness for the rigorous HBS program with a strong GMAT or GRE quant score.

Going forward, Harvard Business School will accept either a GMAT score or GRE score, not both, as were submitted by 140 applicants this past admissions season. “We need to officially verify scores and prefer to do it for only one test per candidate,” Leopold explains.

The Round 1 deadline at Harvard Business School is just a couple of weeks away on September 9th. If you’re still polishing your open-ended essay, take a look at our HBS MBA application essay tips for guidance and inspiration.

You may also be interested in:

MBA Trends at Harvard Business School and Beyond

What My MBA at Harvard Did Not Teach Me

 

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Yale SOM Welcomes Diverse MBA Class of 2016

Bruce DelMonico, director of MBA admissions at the Yale School of Management, recently shared the details of the incoming class of 2016 MBA students. With 39% hailing from outside the United States, 37% women, and …

Bruce DelMonico, director of MBA admissions at the Yale School of Management, recently shared the details of the incoming class of 2016 MBA students. With 39% hailing from outside the United States, 37% women, and 25% U.S. minorities, this class is one of the most diverse in the school’s history. The Class of 2015 is made up of 32% international students, 39% women, 22% U.S. minorities.

Students come from more than 150 different schools, DelMonico reveals, noting that the most common are Yale, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, the Indian Institute of Technology, and Princeton.

With an average GMAT score of 719—five points higher than the Class of 2015—and an average GPA over 3.5, Yale’s incoming MBAs are academically accomplished and have been university valedictorians, class presidents, and recipients of Rhodes, Fulbright, Soros, and Humanity in Action Scholarships and Fellowships.

Yale SOM continues its tradition of attracting mission-driven and dynamic people, says DelMonico, as the school prepares to welcome class members who are table tennis champions, mountaineers, poker champions, world travelers, published novelists, and a former co-captain of the White House softball team, among many other talented individuals.

To learn more about this year’s incoming class, follow the link above to the Yale MBA blog.

You may also be interested in:

Yale SOM Introduces Sliding Scale Application Fee

Yale SOM 2014-2015 Essay Question

Yale SOM Deepens Commitment to Entrepreneurship

 

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Tuesday Tips: NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “Stern develops leaders who have an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, Stern …

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “Stern develops leaders who have an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, Stern takes advantage of the vibrant and changing business opportunities in New York City.

The individual components of your application will be academic ability, professional achievements and career aspirations, and personal characteristics. Stern provides podcasts to describe each component on the admissions website, and it’s worth starting your research there. While your academics will be evaluated mainly through your GMAT and GPA, the essays are a crucial part of your application strategy.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
(750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Why MBA, why now, is an important question to answer. While many people seek an MBA degree, NYU wants to invest in those who can use it most effectively. Perhaps you’re seeking an MBA for networking or professional credibility, or maybe you want an MBA to learn specific skills to change careers. Whatever your own personal reasons may be, make sure you can point to specific aspects of the MBA education both generally and specifically at Stern that are necessary to achieve your goals.

Note that this question specifically asks about your interest in pursuing an MBA at this point in your life. Why is now the right time for you, both personally and professionally? What will an MBA add to your already successful career trajectory to get you to the next level? If you are an older applicant you will need to spend time carefully communicating that you realize what an MBA can and can’t do for you at your professional level, and that you have a plan to leverage the MBA professionally in your next job.

This essay also offers an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with NYU Stern and describe why NYU Stern is the right place for you to spend the next two years of your life. Certainly personal experience of the campus through visits or student touch points would be ideal, but even if you are halfway around the world you can illustrate the many ways in which you learned about the NYU Stern experience.

The activities that most excite you academically should be logically related to your career goals explained in essay 1. The activities you are involved with might be professional, or could be personal hobbies or interests. This essay is your opportunity to describe who you are outside of work. Discussing the hobbies and extracurricular interests you have pursued thus far will be an important data point.

Your post MBA goal should be both achievable and demonstrate the need for an MBA. An MBA from NYU Stern will open professional doors for you, and you should demonstrate that you are ready to take advantage of those opportunities. Think about a logical sequence that starts with your past work experience, then your MBA education and ends with your immediate post MBA goal. Ideally your goal pulls from both your current work experience and the skills you will gain in the NYU MBA program.

Essay 2: Choose Option A or Option B
Option A: Your Two Paths
(500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
• Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
• What factors will most determine which path you will take?
• How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?

Option A asks you to exercise a thought exercise about your future career goals. After identifying your immediate post-MBA career goal in Essay 1, where can you see your long-term career evolving? Again, both trajectories should be logical. For example, if you worked as an analyst in finance prior to your MBA, and plan to work in private equity post MBA, perhaps you see yourself as a partner in your PE firm as your first path, or operating a company as your second path. Each could unfold depending upon the choices you make or opportunities you see as you engage actively with your career.

The second part of this question asks you to tie both paths to the NYU Stern mission, which is to “develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society.” Almost any career goal can reflect this mission, though infusing an element of leadership into your plans can help maximize your impact beyond the career of one individual. Developing people who also have an impact on the world of business can multiply your impact and create tremendous value.

In the third section of the question you should consider all of the factors you might use as criteria to evaluate future career goals. This is a great time to consider what has motivated you in the past – do you thrive on achievement? Relish accomplishment of a difficult goal? Desire to help others? This question is one that demonstrates your ability to evaluate your own decision-making process, as well as revealing the values you hold most closely. Answer this question strategically to ensure you are intentionally revealing personal attributes that are most representative of your values and potential.

Option B: Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

Open-ended essays like this one can be intimidating. You are allowed any method to introduce yourself to your classmates, and you’re probably wondering what the best medium for your message is.
However, your content is king in this essay. The best first step is to brainstorm the information you want to convey. Reflect upon your unique personal qualities and what is valued most by your friends and family. How would you want your classmates to see you? What are some of the personal stories you would share with a new friend?

Once you have established the content you want to use for the NYU Stern essay 3, it’s time to consider the medium. If you are a visual person you may chose a drawing, painting or photo series. If you are a creative writer perhaps it’s a poem or short story. If none of the “creative” approaches feel right to you, feel free to write a standard essay where you explain who you are and introduce yourself to your classmates. The medium is not the most important aspect of this essay. What is most important is the message and content of your composition to demonstrate your motivations and who you are to the admissions committee.

Essay 3. Additional Information (optional)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason, even if you are a re-applicant.
If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

NYU Stern provides the optional essay as an opportunity for you to explain a low GPA, GMAT or TOEFL. If you are in that situation, avoid excuses. Focus on the facts, and explain why this performance is not indicative of your future performance at NYU Stern.

If you are not submitting a recommendation from your current employer, this is the place to explain the situation. A few valid reasons may include a brief tenure working for your current boss, that you are not sharing your MBA plans with your supervisor, or that you work more closely with other members of the team.

Additionally, re-applicants have the opportunity to highlight the updates and changes to your candidacy this year. If you have quantitative improvements like a GMAT or alternative transcript those are excellent to highlight. Any qualitative improvements like clarified goals, new leadership experiences and any expansions to your job responsibilities are equally useful and this is the ideal place to highlight them.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped countless aspiring NYU Stern MBA students to showcase personal and professional stories that cut through the clutter. Contact us to learn more.

Posted in Application Tips, NYU Stern Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Michigan Ross Kicks Off Annual Impact Challenge

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today unveiled details of its annual Impact Challenge. Organized by the Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI), the 2014 Impact Challenge will harness the creativity of business school students to …

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today unveiled details of its annual Impact Challenge. Organized by the Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI), the 2014 Impact Challenge will harness the creativity of business school students to develop, launch, and fund a business within a week’s time.

The program has been expanded this year to also engage Weekend/Evening MBA, Global MBA, Master of Management, and BBA students. In the end, approximately 1,500 Ross students will have participated in the venture creation process. The Impact Challenge aims to make a positive difference in the Detroit community, and this year’s start-up venture will focus on increasing the odds that Detroit-area children grow up to become successful entrepreneurs.

“We fundamentally believe that business can be a force for positive change in the world, and the Impact Challenge is an embodiment of this belief,” says Scott DeRue, associate dean and faculty director of the Ross Leadership Initiative.

“This year’s challenge will create a lasting impact for Detroit youth and our students at Ross. There is so much positive momentum around Detroit’s start-up culture that we wanted to do our part to support area children to become successful entrepreneurs,” DeRue explains. “Starting a business from scratch is an ambitious goal for anyone, but our students have the knowledge and passion to bring this to life and will experience first-hand the power of business to make a positive impact.”

General Motors is sponsoring this year’s Challenge with a $50,000 investment in the educational experience. Local partner organizations include the Detroit Parent Network and Detroit TechTown.

The 450 first-year MBAs will work in six teams to engage community leaders, business owners, parents, and youth in five neighborhoods to generate a set of new venture concepts. Workshops on design thinking and feedback from key stakeholders will help students develop their venture concept, business plan, and pitch.

On Thursday, August 28, each team will pitch concepts to a panel of judges. The judges will select one concept for launch, based on the business venture’s potential impact, strategy and long-term viability, both in terms of financial feasibility and sustainability.

The following day, 500 first-year BBA students will then have mere hours to complete their phase of the challenge: designing and launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise seed capital to support the venture, which will be complemented by funding from corporate partners. From there, teams of students will take the winning idea and work over the next eight months to launch the venture, with guidance from Ross faculty and partners such as Detroit’s TechTown.

“Working closely with Michigan Ross to design this year’s Impact Challenge and then bring it to our SWOT City Detroit neighborhoods is an incredible opportunity,” says Leslie Lynn Smith, president and CEO, TechTown Detroit. “Every day, we work to transform these underserved neighborhoods into vibrant and dense communities—places where kids are inspired and supported, not consumed by a chronic sense of hopelessness. We take seriously our obligation to carry economic and social justice to our most disconnected communities—our neighbors—and we are deeply grateful for Ross’ shared commitment and partnership.”

Elizabeth Ferguson, MBA ’15 who participated in the 2013 Challenge, says her section became deeply invested in the project and the community they hoped to benefit.

“The Challenge certainly opened my eyes to what I was capable of and what my section could accomplish together, but more importantly we saw the impact of our efforts on thousands of Detroit kids,” Ferguson says. “It drove home that our Ross education would prepare us to be engaged citizens of the world as well as exemplary business people.”

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