Before you can start targeting business schools or determining your application strategy, you need to make a critical analysis 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 an MBA
Are you seeking the degree for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? Your MBA could be a transformational experience, changing everything about your life. But it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network, or expose you to new industries.
Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish after business school. 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 graduate management education.
People without a clear long-term goal should carefully consider what the MBA would do for them. Business school offers clear skill building in teamwork and leadership, as well as practical skills like accounting and finance. There is also a strong professional network you will build with classmates and alumni.
If you want to advance in a career that values the degree, it may be an important next step. However, 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 attending!
Dedication and passion for the path you are embarking upon are crucial. For further reading to help you decide, see this HBS article with eight reasons you should pursue an MBA.
For many on the fence, it’s 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. Would you give up your pursuit of an MBA and either return to a prior career path or pursue a completely different goal? If so, it may not be the right time for you to apply to b-school 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 candidate. 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 you need an MBA, the next steps are to consider your school options, develop your strategy, and refine your goals as you plan out your essays over the next few months. If you need guidance for any of those tasks, don’t hesitate to contact us!