Category Archives: Application Tips

Evaluate Your Communication Skills When Applying to B-School

The so-called hard skills of financing, accounting, supply chain management are widely available at business schools across the board, but it seems the soft-set skills, such as the ability to work with and through others, …

working together

The so-called hard skills of financing, accounting, supply chain management are widely available at business schools across the board, but it seems the soft-set skills, such as the ability to work with and through others, need a boost.

Recruiters have noticed that even students from the best schools can’t always communicate well, or don’t know how to express their concerns in a frank but non-aggressive way during presentations.

Clear thinking and effective communication are closely linked, and a new article in the Washington Post by , senior associate dean at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, discusses the importance of having those strong communication skills that employers are looking for in their new hires.

“Communication skills are fundamental in reaching an audience, influencing them, and sharing your message,” noted Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive of Marriott International, in a recent talk given at the Smith School.

“If you’re a master at running a spreadsheet or a financial model, but really don’t have the ability to understand the assumptions that are in it, or debate the assumptions in it,” Sorenson said, “then you’re not going to go as far as you could go otherwise.”

If you’re applying to business school in the fall, you’ll impress the admissions committee right out of the gate if you can demonstrate that you already possess strong communication skills. But if you need to do some work in this area, don’t fret.

There are many ways you can improve your listening, speaking, and writing skills, so take a long at the original article for Russell’s tips.  Also, reach out to mentors or supervisors whose communication skills you admire and ask for advice on how they read their audience, navigate meetings, and how they have cultivated their own interpersonal abilities for business success.

Fortunately, opportunities to communicate present themselves on a daily basis, and it’s an area we can work to improve for our entire lives.

You may also be interested in:

Recruiters Seek Specialist MBAs with Soft Skills

Image credit: iComputer Denver  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Choosing Among Multiple Offers of Admission

Round Two business school decisions have come pouring in and some MBA applicants face not just two, but three or more offers of admission from their target schools.  Despite the adage, “You can never have too much …

multiple admissions offers

Round Two business school decisions have come pouring in and some MBA applicants face not just two, but three or more offers of admission from their target schools.  Despite the adage, “You can never have too much of a good thing,” in reality, multiple b-school acceptances can produce a lot of anxiety in candidates.

If you find yourself with this enviable problem, consider the following when weighing multiple admissions offers. Forget about rankings and reputation and think long and hard about the other particulars of each school, such as size, academics or location

Does your desire to live in an urban setting outweigh a preference for a smaller class size? Is there a financial incentive that puts one school in the lead? Is the diversity of the student body important? Is the academic focus on case studies, or more experiential?

You might not have had a strong preference before, but you should tally up the different characteristics to see which way the wind really blows.

If you haven’t already visited the campus as part of your application process, now’s the time to do so. Sit in on a class, chat with students and professors, hang out on campus and generally soak up the atmosphere. This is where you’ll be spending the next two years of your life, so making sure the program is a good fit for you academically and socially is imperative.

Even if you have already toured the school, consider visiting again to attend events designed for admitted students so you can scope out your potential classmates. Fit is very important, and these people will become a part of your future network, so it makes sense to test drive your comfort level with them prior to committing. After all, if you just don’t  click with them now, how will you make those solid relationships that will serve you throughout your career?

Talking to alumni is another great way to guide your decision. Make sure the school graduates people who are working in your target industry, and who are excited about sharing their experiences and advice with current students.

The decision of where to pursue an MBA is a weighty one, so do your homework and understand the strengths and potential drawbacks of each of your options. But in the end keep in mind that there’s rarely a “wrong” choice to be made.

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