Tag Archives: career goals
April 20, 2017
Every spring, many prospective MBA applicants start seriously considering whether this is the year to apply for business school. Before deciding what type of program you will attend, selecting your school, and determining your application strategy, you need to make the crucial decision of whether an MBA is the right next step for your life and career. Think about the reasons why you want an MBA, and what your alternatives are.
Reasons for Pursuing an MBA
Are you seeking an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While your MBA could be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network or expose you to new industries.
1. You’ve learned as much as you can in your current role and crave something more. If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.
2. You have a new professional goal. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish after your MBA. If you know what your long-term goal is, that’s a great way to start. What do you need to know to accomplish that goal? How does your resume need to look? What skills do you need to build? And who do you need to know? Think about the aspects of that future that will be developed through your MBA and your short-term post MBA career.
If you are not someone with a clear long-term goal, critically consider what you think the MBA will do for you. Business school offers clear skill building in teamwork, leadership and practical skills like accounting and finance. There is also a strong professional network you will build with classmates and alumni.
3. You need the degree to move up the ladder. If you are seeking advancement in a career where an MBA is valued, it may be an important next step. If you are simply looking for a larger salary or a change of pace, make sure that an MBA is the right professional degree for you to pursue. Applying for business school is an expensive and time consuming activity, and that’s before you even start school! Dedication and passion for the path you are embarking upon are crucial.
4. You’re missing key skills that an MBA program can provide. Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.
5. You want to significantly expand your professional network. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university and to countless professional opportunities beyond graduation. While the quality of the education at the most elite programs is guaranteed across the board, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100K, keep in mind the network of contacts you build during your MBA experience truly is priceless.
Having a Plan B
While considering your reasons for pursuing an MBA, it will be useful to consider a common b-school interview question: “What will you do if you are not admitted this year?”
Sometimes the answer to the “Plan B” question can be revealing. If you think that you would give up your pursuit of an MBA and either return to a prior career path or pursue a completely different goal, it may not be time for you to dedicate this spring and summer to applying to MBA programs.
When you consider plan B and you find yourself answering that you will spend the year preparing to reapply and continuing to develop yourself for your future career, you are likely a dedicated prospective MBA. If you were not admitted, you might find yourself thinking that you would volunteer more, and build your knowledge and skill set in your chosen career path.
Once you have decided to pursue an MBA, the next steps are to consider your school options, develop your strategy and refine your goals as you plan for beginning your essays in a few months.
Photo credit: Eric at Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
February 22, 2017
Is there such a thing as a right time to apply for an MBA? Here at SBC, clients frequently ask if they’re too young to apply to some of the world’s top business schools. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, many b-school hopefuls consider pursuing an MBA straight out of undergrad or with scant work experience a no-brainer, as they avoid putting their lives on hold for two years—and forgoing a potentially significant salary to do so.
But what kind of early career candidate has a shot of admission into a top MBA program? Basically, those who are talented, motivated, and exhibit a track record of leadership and initiative. Though they may not have the years of formal work experience under their belts, these younger applicants have gained skills through internships, community service, entrepreneurial ventures or extra-curricular activities.
In a recent piece published on the Booth Insider blog at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Megan Stiphany, Senior Associate Director of Admissions and Program Director of Summer Business Scholars, offers advice to early career candidates on finding those growth opportunities that will set you up for future success.
Professional or academic internships are a great place to begin, since they allow you to try a new career on for size and help lay the foundation for a strong professional network. This can be especially helpful for applicants with a lighter quant background in college. You’ll build new skills, crystallize your career goals, and become more sure about whether an MBA is the next logical step. As an added bonus, Stiphany says future employers and graduate programs alike appreciate the value of internship experiences.
Programs such as Booth’s Summer Business Scholars Program (SBSP) allow those thinking about pursuing an MBA to test out the b-school experience. “No matter your background, spending three weeks this summer at Booth will give you tangible business skills that you can use right away, and give you a great taste of the business school experience,” she says.
“Recruiters and graduate programs are attracted to candidates who have explored diverse areas of study, and who can join their organization with strong leadership, business, and communication skills in place,” Stiphany adds.
Schools are becoming increasingly open to all ages, and realize that candidates have a lot to contribute in different ways at various life stages. If you can demonstrate maturity, highly focused career goals, leadership skills, and enough life experience to contribute to an incoming class, your age or thin amount of work experience become far less important.
Your job as an MBA applicant therefore is to search internally for what you have to offer.
“There are many roads you can take as part of your career journey,” says Stiphany. “Take the time to explore each option in order to truly evaluate which is right for you – and when!”
August 30, 2016
Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is a top-tier business school with an innovative program. From the moment you decide to attend Kelley you will be focusing on your career and leadership development. You’ll …
Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is a top-tier business school with an innovative program. From the moment you decide to attend Kelley you will be focusing on your career and leadership development.
You’ll receive personalized coaching, leadership training, and real-world industry projects within the first year of your MBA. Kelley’s program is unique and close-knit, so your fit with the program and your desire to participate fully will be important to the admissions committee.
Please discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)
Entering Kelley with a crystallized career vision and an idea of how you will accomplish your goals will help you take full advantage of the program. Kelley’s curriculum is tailored to help you reach your career goals.
For example, students can specialize almost immediately by choosing one of the first-year Academies in your industry area of focus. Think about these opportunities at Kelley when you answer this career goals question, and specifically how you see yourself using the tools available.
The second half of this question deals with your flexibility around your career goal and your ability to handle change. The business world changes constantly and your ability to recognize opportunity, even outside your anticipated career goals, will be crucial to success. Think about the core elements that are important to you in forming your career goals.
Perhaps you are passionate about a specific industry, but you could imagine pursing either a strategy role or a finance role in that industry. Or perhaps you love marketing and are more flexible about the industry where you practice your craft. Showing that you can capitalize on change and opportunity while staying true to your core values and interests will position you well in this set of essays.
Please respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)
a. My greatest memory is…
b. I’m most afraid of…
c. My greatest challenge has been…
d. I’m most proud of…
This essay seeks to understand your core personal motivations. Beyond career, what have been formative moments in your life? The story you choose to tell in this essay will be revealing to the admissions committee and will show your personality and values.
Think about the moments in your life when you have changed or matured. Was there an experience that led you to learn more about yourself? Perhaps you interacted with someone who challenged you, or inspired you. Or you may have traveled outside your comfort zone, either literally outside your home country, or in a transition like leaving home for college.
Option b, “I’m most afraid of…” is the one prompt that does not specifically call on a past experience. However, it’s likely that your fear has its roots in a formative moment in your life.
Once you have a story to tell, make sure you are explaining why this moment is important to you. You can either narrate your thoughts, reactions and opinions as you retell the story, or take time at the end of the essay to reflect upon what you learned and why it was important to you.
Please share with the admissions committee an interesting or surprising fact about you. (25 words)
The admissions committee has read your career goals, read about a pivotal experience and likely has reviewed your resume and application fact sheet. This fact is one that didn’t come up in any of those demographic or background data sheets in your application.
Perhaps you were a competitive swimmer in high school, but didn’t pursue it in college. Or your grandmother was from Sweden and taught you traditional cooking techniques that no one else in your life knows.
If you are struggling to come up with an interesting or surprising fact, this is a great question to poll friends and family about. You will want to use something that is unique about you, and that most other applicants would not be able to say.
Your friends and family likely know the elements of your background and personality that go far deeper than your resume or application fact sheet.
Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)
Kelley’s optional question is open-ended, allowing you to add almost any story or additional background data you would like. Before you take full advantage of the extra space, make sure you are truly adding to your application. If you have done the work on a comprehensive resume, excellent recommendations and finely honed essays you likely don’t need this space.
If there is anything to explain in your application, definitely use this space to do so. That may be a poor grade in a quantitative course in college, academic probation, or the lack of a recommendation from a current supervisor. Whatever you need to discuss, make sure you are focused on explanations rather than excuses, and you provide solid, recent evidence that you have done better since the event.
Struggling with the Kelley MBA application? Stacy Blackman Consulting can help. Contact us to learn more.
August 23, 2016
University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business is a globally recognized MBA program, located in the center of technology and creativity that is Austin. Programs like McCombs can provide an especially strong regional …
University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business is a globally recognized MBA program, located in the center of technology and creativity that is Austin. Programs like McCombs can provide an especially strong regional network if you are currently in Texas or plan to settle in Texas after your MBA.
When approaching these essay questions think about the reasons you are pursuing an MBA, particularly at McCombs. Thorough school research will help you come up with specifics, by taking to current or former students, visiting campus, or attending admissions events.
Essay 1. The University of Texas at Austin values unique perspectives and cultivates a collaborative environment of distinct individual contributions. It is the first day of orientation. You are meeting your study group, comprised of five of your classmates from various backgrounds. Please introduce yourself to your new team, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life.
Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.
• Write an essay (250 words)
• Share a video introduction (one minute)
For an open-ended essay with a creative option (the video) it can be daunting to think of a topic. Rather than focusing on how you are going to communicate, start thinking about what you want to communicate to the McCombs admissions committee by introducing yourself to your new study group.
The best essays will dive deep into your motivations and aspirations, perhaps getting into your cultural background, formative moments in your life and friends, family and colleagues who have influenced you. To identify one or two key stories you may want to tell, think about those pivotal moments of change in your life.
For many people the transition from high school to college and from college to work led to personal change. Others had formative childhood experiences or experiences that led to shifts in perspective like travel or living outside your home country. Any one of these moments could be a good way to illustrate who you are and what motivates you.
Once you have identified the content of your essay you can decide how to present it. A video could give you the opportunity to add elements of emotion, such as humor, that are harder to convey in writing. A video also allows you to include graphics, photos or other visual elements. If your story fits better into a written narrative you may choose the written essay instead.
Essay 2. Based on your post-MBA goals and what drives you in your personal and professional life, why is the Texas MBA the ideal program for you and how do you plan to engage in our community? (500 words)
This essay is your opportunity to demonstrate strong fit with the Texas McCombs program. As part of your homework before starting this set of essays you have learned as much as possible about the school, now you can bring in your own aspirations and goals to describe what you plan to be part of.
Some of the unique opportunities at McCombs include the Venture Labs, supporting your entrepreneurial dreams, and The MBA+ Program, with opportunities to work with influential companies through a variety of touch points. Austin is another unique benefit to the program that you may want to discuss in the context of your background and goals.
For example, perhaps you are interested in working for a major technology firm to learn product manager skills that you will then take into starting your own business. While at McCombs you can test ideas with the Venture Labs, and also consult for major companies like Adobe or HP to learn how large companies work. These experiences will certainly give you an advantage as your build your post MBA career.
Don’t forget the personal – Texas McCombs has an active and engaged student culture with many student organizations you may be interested in joining.
Optional Statement: Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)
This optional essay provides space for you to add your own context to any information that may hinder your admission prospects. For example, if you have a lower than average test score, any grades below a C on your transcript, academic probation or a significant resume gap, you can explain here. Keep your explanation concise and factual, and focused on context for the issue rather than excuses.
Stacy Blackman Consulting can provide personalized, strategic guidance for your Texas McCombs MBA application. Contact us to learn more.