Tag Archives: career goals
February 9, 2015
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Receiving an offer of admission from one of your target business schools is every MBA hopeful’s dream, and that achievement feels even more …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
Receiving an offer of admission from one of your target business schools is every MBA hopeful’s dream, and that achievement feels even more amazing when a second or even third offer comes in.
After taking some time to properly celebrate, now comes the hard part. Since you likely applied only to programs that you felt passionate about, you must decide where to spend the next two years of your life, and a small fortune. The decision-making process is different for everyone, but there are a few things to consider that may sway your choice.
1. Financial incentives: For some applicants, a generous scholarship offer from one school clinches the deal. However, I typically counsel clients not to focus too heavily on this aspect.
More money from a lesser-ranked school may mean you graduate with little or no debt, but the choice could cost you down the line when it comes to the quality of your network. Within the first few years out of business school , the salary bump that accompanies an MBA with a strong brand will compensate for that initial financial advantage.
If the schools in contention are similarly ranked but have offered drastically different scholarship amounts, or if one program has offered a financial award and the second program offers nothing, you may be able to change that to level the playing field.
Reach out to the admissions office, reiterate your sincere interest in attending their program, and then ask if it’s possible to be considered for a higher scholarship amount – or any scholarship amount – because you now have another offer of acceptance and financial incentive on the table. If you handle this tactfully, and without mentioning the other school by name, you have nothing to lose.
2. Career goals: If you haven’t already done so, now is the time for an in-depth study of how each program will help you advance your professional trajectory. Learn what student clubs and resources exist that support your career interests. Find out which companies recruit heavily at the school, and take a good look at the strength of the career services center and alumni network.
Check out the annual employment report or company lists published on the school’s website. See if one program seems to provide a substantial advantage in your field. If you need more input, call up recruiters and companies you’re interested in to see what they think of the schools you’re choosing between.
Hugo Varela, who works in the health care industry in Madrid, received offers of admission from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and the MIT Sloan School of Management in round one this season.
As he wrestled these past few weeks with the decision of which program to attend, Varela said in an email that, “The single most critical factor is whether a certain school provides me with the best opportunity to reach my goals.”
However, he said that in his case, “The three schools I have been admitted to could put me in a great position to achieve those goals, without much of a difference among them in terms of opportunities.”
Looking solely at career stats, therefore, may not be enough to guide your decision.
3. Fit: This is always the most unquantifiable yet crucial element to consider when deciding on a school. Check your gut as you visit the campus or chat with current students and alumni.
Think about if you feel intimidated or uncomfortable, or welcomed and completely at ease. When you reach out to alumni or students, note if they are eager and quick to answer your questions, or if you have to wait days for a follow-up email or call.
Due to work constraints, Varela says he was able to visit only the Tuck campus in person, but he talked to current students and attended school-hosted events in Madrid before and after applying in order to get to know as much as he could about every school.
“Current students and alumni really have been key for me to decide where to apply and where to attend,” he wrote.
If possible, attending each program’s admitted students weekend, where you’ll spend time on campus around current students and other admitted applicants, is one of the best ways to help you decide which school is a better fit. Sometimes though, a campus visit is logistically or financially impossible.
“As an international student who could not physically visit schools, I think attending infosessions, talking to students and alums and online research to the point of cyber-stalking was what helped me decide on which schools to apply to, and also gave me an edge in the admissions process, especially the interviews,” wrote a prospective student from Bangalore, India, who goes by Vandana? and works for a global online entertainment portal.
Vandana maintains a blog chronicling her MBA journey, and was admitted to UCLA Anderson School of Management, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business in round one this season.
“My Kellogg interviewer actually remarked how great it was that I could glean so much about Kellogg – in-depth knowledge on clubs, activities, student culture and really get a feel for the school despite living halfway across the world,” she wrote.
The decision may ultimately come down to where you want to end up geographically after graduation, or what type of experience you want to have during your MBA. For each candidate, the answer will be different.
“Deciding between programs is hard,” Varela wrote. “But it is one of those decisions where you are going to win no matter what you choose.”
December 4, 2014
MBA hopefuls are always looking for clues as to how the admissions process works. With that in mind, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has attempted to demystify the applicant assessment process with a series …
MBA hopefuls are always looking for clues as to how the admissions process works. With that in mind, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has attempted to demystify the applicant assessment process with a series of blog posts this week.
Beth Tidmarsh, director of admissions for full-time MBA programs at Kellogg, addresses three key areas in this series: intellectual ability, work experience, and professional goals. While this information is tailored for a specific group of applicants, we believe the guidance holds true no matter where you’re applying.
Kellogg is looking for candidates who have demonstrated academic excellence. While your GMAT or GRE scores are key indicators that you can handle the work, the admissions team also wants to see what you’ve done to broaden your knowledge base and challenge yourself academically.
“If your scores or grades seem a little lopsided, we dig deeper into your application to look for evidence that you’ve taken steps to develop those skills,” says Tidmarsh. “That tells us if you’ve taken charge of balancing out your skill set.”
When in doubt, err on the side of explaining any dips or gaps in your academic record. You never want the admissions team speculating about your past performance.
Tidmarsh’s comments about work experience are particularly enlightening, and perhaps reassuring as well for some candidates. The director explains that applicants are analyzed within the context of their own career paths—not compared against each other.
Use your application to show how your work experience is noteworthy. If you’ve taken on more responsibilities, been promoted more quickly, and generally progressed faster than others at your same level, this is the kind of information the admissions officers want to hear, says Tidmarsh.
We really like her tip to help applicants avoid the trap of using too much industry-specific jargon.
“Think about how you would explain your job to a 10-year-old or your grandmother…This is a great place to show us how you can communicate ideas across fields and disciplines.”
Because the admissions team already has a copy of your resume, use the opportunities within the application to further explain your responsibilities and provide rich detail about your career to date. Don’t just copy your resume into the input fields, Tidmarsh admonishes.
Finally, it’s important to have a pretty clear picture of your career goals and how a Kellogg MBA will help you reach them. That’s not to say you can’t change your mind once you’re on campus. Students often explore new paths while in business school, and may decide to pursue a new direction after experiencing all that an MBA program has to offer.
“Our Admissions officers are checking to make sure you’ve got a plan in mind. We understand the plan may change over time, but do think about what areas and opportunities you would focus on if you were starting our program today,” Tidmarsh advises.
September 30, 2014
London Business School is a close-knit program with an international focus, set in one of the most exciting centers of culture in Europe. Among one of the top-ranked programs in the world, LBS is equally …
London Business School is a close-knit program with an international focus, set in one of the most exciting centers of culture in Europe. Among one of the top-ranked programs in the world, LBS is equally valued by recruiters in both the US and Europe. LBS is an excellent choice for MBA hopefuls who have international experience, a goal to work in London or other parts of Europe, or just an interest in attending school outside the US.
LBS has significantly slimmed down the essays required for the application this year. It will be a challenge for you to present everything you may want about your career, extracurriculars and personal attributes. Make sure you formulate a clear game plan for this set of essays so you can maximize the questions and the space permitted to make your case for admission.
What are your post-MBA plans and how will your past experience and the London Business School programme contribute? (500 words)
Defining your post-MBA plans may be difficult as you approach your question. Most MBA applicants are pursuing the degree for a specific career goal post-MBA, but if you need a bit more reflection to answer this question it is worth doing the work. Self-awareness about your strengths and interests will help you refine what you want. To take your research deeper it may be incredibly helpful to talk to colleagues and alumni who have MBAs in your field to see what your career path options are. Make sure that your career goals are both realistic and aspirational. An MBA will certainly open doors for you, and also may define a specific career path. Make sure you are well-informed about what others have done before you.
Your past experiences have certainly informed your post-MBA plans, and touching on those most relevant will be helpful to setting the background for your current pursuit of an MBA. To make this essay more than a rehash of your resume, think about explaining the rationale for your decisions throughout the essay. Why did you pursue your past experience and what has been the impetus behind subsequent career choices? At this point, why are you choosing LBS? If space permits, you will want to discuss why you have made the choice to pursue an MBA at this time, and why you want to attend LBS.
How will you add value to the London Business School community? (300 words)
Thorough research into the London Business School community will be crucial here, whether online or in person. Consider both the academic community and the extracurricular communities. Reaching out to the clubs and organizations you are most interested in may allow you to interact with a current student who can provide context for you. To be most effective in answering this question you will want to be specific and logical in your choices of activities you will impact. What activities make the most sense in the context of your career and industry interests? What about your hobbies? Any community involvement you are currently pursuing and plan to continue could start to demonstrate your value to the groups you plan to join or lead at LBS.
International experience may be another asset to the LBS community you can touch upon in this essay. Since LBS is a particularly international program they are certainly seeking applicants who are well traveled and thoughtful about the rest of the world. If you focus on an international background make sure you are able to explain what you have learned from interacting with cultures that are not your own, and relate your experiences back to what you will bring to LBS.
Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (300 words)
This essay can be used to explain possible weaknesses in your application like a low GPA or GMAT score, or could be another opportunity to reveal an aspect of your candidacy that has not been covered in the previous questions.
If you use this space to explain a less than stellar aspect of your candidacy make sure you are offering explanations and not excuses. Keep all background information succinct and factual (no whining!) and explain the concrete steps you have taken to improve your candidacy and to be ready for an MBA programme like LBS.
If you are in the enviable position of having nothing to explain, this can be a great opportunity to touch on a personal story or add color to your career goals. Especially if you have a unique background or an experience that has shaped your outlook on life and career this could be a place to discuss that personal aspect of your candidacy.
Challenged by the LBS essay questions? Contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.
September 16, 2014
A clear application strategy is crucial to approaching these essays. Duke Fuqua’s mission is to “identify, engage, and foster the development of future leaders of consequence,” and you will want to demonstrate you are the …
A clear application strategy is crucial to approaching these essays. Duke Fuqua’s mission is to “identify, engage, and foster the development of future leaders of consequence,” and you will want to demonstrate you are the kind of leader the admissions committee is looking for.
Don’t forget the personal – in this essay set you have the opportunity to add 25 new facts to round out your profile. As always, it is important to demonstrate that you know Duke Fuqua well and are a strong fit with the program. Starting your research and personal networking now will put you in a solid position to prepare the most specific and effective essays.
Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you prepare a compelling, individualized strategy to approach your Duke Fuqua application this year, contact us to learn more.
Required Short Answer Essays
Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each short answer question, respond in 250 characters only (the equivalent of about 50 words).
1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
2. What are your long-term goals?
3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
This career goals essay asks for your plan in three parts. First, you should describe what you plan to do immediately after your MBA. Then you’ll explain the long-term vision for your career. Finally, Duke admits that many career paths are forged through circumstance, and asks you for Plan B.
Think big picture and focus on the overall story trajectory. What would be the most logical (and interesting) progression from your current skill set and MBA education? How will your next step flow from the combination of those experiences? And your alternative path ideally isn’t a massive departure, but simply shows the areas you could see yourself exploring if your primary plan doesn’t materialize.
For example, perhaps you are focused on becoming a marketing executive at a CPG company. If you don’t find the suitable position after Duke, maybe you would consider another industry for your career path. Think about your range of interests and go from there. Because you have limited space, you’ll have to boil your plans down in a clear statement of what you plan to do, but ideally any plans are supported by the information provided in your resume, recommendations, and other essays.
First Required Essay
Instructions: Answer the following question — present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.
The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.
In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
This essay is entirely open ended and topics can span your personal background, work experiences, values or extracurriculars. If you have a particularly interesting story in any of those areas, this is the place to tell that story. This creative exercise is certainly an opportunity to follow the admissions committee’s advice to share what makes you a dynamic, multi-dimensional person.
Coming up with 25 random things to list in this essay may seem daunting at first. To jumpstart your creative process you may want to brainstorm with friends and family about what is most interesting and memorable about you. Or keep a notebook with you to record thoughts as you go about work and personal activities. A themed list that ties into a bigger point may be effective, but resist the urge to package the list too perfectly. In the end, Duke is interested in who you actually are and how your life has unfolded until now.
Second Required Essay (Choose 1 of 2)
Instructions: Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.
When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.
Both of these essay question options are entirely focused on why the Duke MBA program is the right place for you specifically. This may be another opportunity to demonstrate your multi-dimensional personality as you explain which classes, clubs, and community activities most resonate with you.
The best essays will be both specific and personal. While everyone benefits from a diverse alumni network, what specifically do you want to give and receive from your classmates? If you describe clubs and classes you are attracted to, also offer specific examples from your past experiences to show your consistent personal or professional passions.
While the focus of the essay is the Duke MBA program, you are also being asked why these aspects are most meaningful. Your fit with the program is crucial, and therefore you must exhibit the qualities Duke is seeking as well. The Duke MBA program is especially interested in your role within the community, and will place significant weight on this factor. If you research thoroughly and are specific, you should be able to clearly demonstrate why you are going to be strong contributor and teammate.
This essay can also be a place to talk about how the Duke MBA fits into your career goals. What do you know now that will be enhanced through your MBA education? And what crucial aspects of the skill set required for your future career will be augmented by attending Duke?
The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.
1. Authentic Engagement: We care and we take action. We each make a difference to Team Fuqua by being ourselves and engaging in and supporting activities about which we are passionate.
2. Supportive Ambition: We support each other to achieve great things, because your success is my success. The success of each individual member of Team Fuqua makes the whole of Team Fuqua better.
3. Collective Diversity: We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.
4. Impactful Stewardship: We are leaders who focus on solutions to improve our communities both now and in the future. We aren’t satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
5. Loyal Community: We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.
6. Uncompromising Integrity: We internalize and live the honor code in the classroom and beyond. We conduct ourselves with integrity within Fuqua, within Duke, and within all communities of which we are a part.
This option for the “Why Duke” essay requires as much introspection as the previous option, but more explicitly asks for research into the community and the aspects you identify with most. In some ways this a more structured question to answer and it may be a reasonable place to start whether you choose to answer this option or the previous option.
Choosing one of the six principles certainly doesn’t mean the other five are not relevant. While you will want to choose the one you think resonates most with your personality and values, it will enhance your application to touch upon the others that are particularly meaningful to you.
As in the prior option you can use this essay to also communicate a bit about your career goals at Duke, particularly if you focus on Supportive Ambition or Impactful Stewardship and factors of how the community will impact your future career and how you plan to give back to others or what kind of leader you will be. However, the main focus should be your community involvement and how you plan to improve the experience of others at Duke both in and outside the classroom.
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).
• Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
• The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
• Limit your response to two pages.
As with most optional essays, the Duke MBA asks that you use this space only to explain extenuating circumstances. If you have a low GPA, a non-typical recommender or gaps in work history this is the correct place to address those issues. If you do not have any of those areas to explain, it’s best to skip this question and focus only on the previous three essays.
When approaching any concerns about your background in the optional essay it’s important to focus on recent performance, whether academic or professional, and what such performance demonstrates about your ability. Your goal is to remove questions from your application and to address in a factual manner any information the admissions committee needs to know to fairly evaluate your application.
August 26, 2014
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.
August 13, 2014
Distinguishing yourself from other applicants is crucial in a competitive, post-MBA job market. Accenture recruiter Katherine LaVelle recently shared with Bloomberg Businessweek some of the characteristics she’s looking for in new hires. It doesn’t matter …
Distinguishing yourself from other applicants is crucial in a competitive, post-MBA job market. Accenture recruiter Katherine LaVelle recently shared with Bloomberg Businessweek some of the characteristics she’s looking for in new hires. It doesn’t matter where you plan on working after b-school; if you’re not already cultivating these aspects of your personal and professional profile, now’s the time to begin.
1. Take advantage of change. LaVelle notes that today’s companies need business school graduates who can help them adapt in this age of digital and market transformation. IT is now essential to every role, she says.
2. Think globally. Cross-cultural awareness is mandatory these days, and all of the elite business schools include opportunities to participate in projects abroad. LaVelle looks for such experience in applicants, and says, “If they can’t complete a global assignment, they must at least show an interest in—and knowledge of—the global landscape.”
3. Never stop learning. The business landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Staying abreast of the latest developments in your field is critical for success, so take advantage of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the top business schools, as well as any training opportunities your employer may offer.
“I value intellectual curiosity,” says LaVelle. “Applicants who pursue training programs or other education opportunities show that they’re committed to learning new skills and growing as professionals.”
4. Grow your network. Making meaningful professional connections can create as much value for you as your MBA degree. Many new businesses start as a result of a current professional connection, so seek out mentors, groom your relationships, and become a resources for others as well.
“I found it helpful to join a broad range of organizations at first–including groups that focused on capital markets, women in business, and everything in between–before narrowing my involvement, once I had a better sense of where I wanted to specialize, ” LaVelle explains.
5. Know what you want. While an MBA program will expand your horizons and open doors you never considered, having a clearly formulated goal is integral to success. Some flexibility is fine, as long as there’s a common thread linking what you’ve done so far with what you plan to do post-MBA.
Life may throw you several curve balls along the way, but a clearly thought-out career map will get you to your goals despite any roadblocks that crop up. As LaVelle notes, your career should tell a complete story and lead you to a clear destination–one that you have aspired to and believe is the best fit for your professional and personal life.