Are you applying to business schools in the next application cycle? Clearly, 2020 will be like no other admissions season on record. The coronavirus outbreak has already affected the application strategies of many MBA hopefuls. Campus visits are out of the question. MBA fairs have all moved online. Your once-imminent promotion may have stalled if your company is scrambling to adapt in the wake of COVID-19.
You may wonder if it’s possible to strengthen your leadership profile and continue extracurriculars in the coming months. Rest assured, you can make a significant impact, even during the quarantine. In fact, the type of volunteering effort you make now could leave an indelible impression on the admissions committee.
Top-ranked MBA programs aren’t looking for number-crunching robots to fill their seats. They seek multidimensional candidates with interests and passions outside of work. In particular, they want to know you have committed to serving your community in a meaningful way.
The COVID-19 pandemic is scary, but it can also inspire you to find new ways to be useful. It’s time to get creative and rise to the occasion. Here are a few coronavirus MBA volunteering ideas we’ve come up with so far.
Stay at Home but Stay Involved
Ideally, you have already had leadership roles in volunteer organizations in the past. Can you continue to build upon those activities in a remote capacity? If not, then explore other options unique to this moment in time.
Your coronavirus MBA volunteering activities should be things that resonate with you. There are many different ways to add value today on both small and large scales. “This COVID-19 outbreak provides an unprecedented opportunity for candidates to step up and demonstrate their service-oriented attitude by helping their communities,” says SBC principal consultant Bill.
Some ideas include arranging meal donations from local restaurants to frontline healthcare workers. You could also organize a fundraiser through a non-profit to raise money for any number of causes. Think of food pantries, blood drives, or providing WiFi hotspots for low-income students, for example.
Many MBA applicants are already involved with mentoring youth. Consider creating Zoom online tutoring, or community programs for non-profits that usually host afterschool classes for kids. You could help create enrichment programs for schools unable to offer online instruction.
Social isolation has caused severe mental health issues for many people. The elderly are especially vulnerable right now. Consider volunteering at an organization addressing the needs of seniors. For instance, the non-profit Dorot in New York City provides “caring calls” to older adults. For an option outside the house, think about something like Meals on Wheels. They need drivers to deliver food to homebound seniors.
One SBC client has trained to become a crisis counselor through the Crisis Text Line. This crisis-intervention and counseling service is conducted through SMS text. Volunteers must first complete 30 hours of training. Then, they commit to volunteering 4 hours per week until they reach 200 hours. From an MBA admissions standpoint, this type of meaningful commitment will stand out.
Relate your coronavirus MBA volunteering to future career goals
At SBC, we encourage clients to contribute in ways that relate to their future career goals. “This is an ideal time to get your feet wet in your desired function or industry sector,” advises SBC consultant Dione. “So put on your entrepreneurial, problem-solving hats!”
Applicants can start by thinking about problems that have arisen in the nonprofits or communities they support. Think about solutions that leverage your expertise or show your potential for success in your future career goal, Dione suggests, adding, “The more significant the impact and the more innovative the solution, the better.”
The pandemic has brought to light many dysfunctional socio-political issues we must address if we want to rebuild a stronger society in the wake of this disaster, Bill adds.
“Creating or participating in a platform dedicated to dealing with these broader issues would demonstrate a passion for driving lasting and beneficial change—a vital element when considering the quality of one’s MBA candidacy.”