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Alternate goals?

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Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2012, 18:31
Hi all,

Is it a good idea to put in alternative career goals in the essays? Would a candidate come off as unclear about his/her goals or someone who has contingencies? For example, international candidates: what if they (we) are uncertain about whether they would like to work post-MBA in the country from which they receive their degree (US, UK etc.) or their home country. What if they are open to both options but will decide once in the program?

Any input would be appreciated.
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2012, 19:52
So to preface, I'm a fellow applicant just like you, but I would focus on one goal in your essay. Plenty of students have back-up plans or completely change their career goals in business schools and adcoms understand this. However, the goal of your essay is to communicate that you understand the value of the MBA and you have a plan for using the MBA to take your career to the next level all while constrained to a few hundred words. Therefore, you need to be clear and concise in your career goals essay and I think talking about alternative career goals will detract from this.

westsidah408 wrote:
Hi all,

Is it a good idea to put in alternative career goals in the essays? Would a candidate come off as unclear about his/her goals or someone who has contingencies? For example, international candidates: what if they (we) are uncertain about whether they would like to work post-MBA in the country from which they receive their degree (US, UK etc.) or their home country. What if they are open to both options but will decide once in the program?

Any input would be appreciated.
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2012, 20:39
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I also agree with the above poster. You want to show the Adcoms that you know exactly what you want to do, exactly how you are going to get there, and have it all planned out. You want to show them that you will accomplish these goals with or without their school. You want to sound like you know what you're talking about.

Ultimately schools want individuals that are going to land solid jobs. People that don't know what they want to do usually don't land the best jobs. It's as easy as that.

Even if you are undecided, pick your ideal plan, or dream goals, and make sure you take that route in your essays. Show them how strong of a candidate you are for their school and professionally and you'll be on your way!

Good luck
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 30 Apr 2012, 03:55
I agree with the other posters that 1 single goal is likely the best route for most schools.

However, for one of my essays I did write 1-2 sentences about an 'alternate goal.' This was more or less my backup plan in the case that my dream job didn't pan out. I felt that by briefly mentioning this, it would show that I'd still be able to get a job at graduation even if the industry I am targeting or the economy fell off a cliff.
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 30 Apr 2012, 04:29
MDF wrote:
I agree with the other posters that 1 single goal is likely the best route for most schools.

However, for one of my essays I did write 1-2 sentences about an 'alternate goal.' This was more or less my backup plan in the case that my dream job didn't pan out. I felt that by briefly mentioning this, it would show that I'd still be able to get a job at graduation even if the industry I am targeting or the economy fell off a cliff.


From my understanding, Columbia Business School is one of the programs that likes to see an alternate goal. If you're not applying there then I think you're fine with one well thought out, detailed goal. My advice would be to really get to the bottom of WHY you want to do this career path and then plot it out step by step. If the steps in your career don't seem to naturally align then further explain the connection between them. Use examples of people who have followed a similar path. Really devote a good chunk of your goals essays to this and you will create a compelling application.
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 04 May 2012, 02:01
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Premise
The ad com members look for candidates that can use the MBA education to the fullest extent in their lives and get the maximum RoI. How does the B-school benefit from that? The post-MBA success of the alumni influences the credibility of the school. A potential MBA student will be willing to pay more for an MBA from a school that produced, say for example, 5 CEO-s in the last 10 years rather than a school that did not produce any. Thus, the more successful the alumni is the more successful the B-school is. The more successful the B-school is, the more viable is its business model. So, when you are making an application to a B-school, you need to convince the ad com that of all the applicants you are the one that will become the most successful in life if you get a chance to complete your MBA from that school.

Benefit of having a single career objective
So, how does having a single career objective benefit you in the application process? GMATLA is spot on here:
Quote:
People that don't know what they want to do usually don't land the best jobs.

When you focus all your resources on a single goal, you are more likely to achieve it. When you have multiple goals without a reasonable priority, then your resources (which are never plentiful) get distributed across your goals. Thus, by the age-old law of physics, the thrust behind any of the goals decreases and hence, the likelihood of achieving any of them.

Challenge to outperform
As mentioned in our premise, you will need to show that you will become "the most successful" of all the applicants. Obviously, you cannot achieve that by aiming moderately, can you? You will need to stretch yourself and choose a goal that will not be easily achievable by any of the other candidates. So, the higher is your goal, the stronger is your application; and when you show your credentials to be strong enough to make ad com believe that you have it in you to achieve that goal then you get a competitive advantage and they smile at you as you smile at them!

Risk of having a single career objective
Now, given that you are applying to an extremely competitive school, you will need to set your goals really really high. But remember the higher is your goal the higher is the risk that you may not achieve it despite your best efforts. And that may not be because of your insufficiency. But may be because of factors that are beyond your control. As you have mentioned - changes to immigration laws, fluctuation in the economy, natural disaster, family emergencies, unanticipated competition and the list goes on.

Career risk management
Thus, if your career objective has risks associated then doesn't it make sense to be ready for the rainy day? I think it does. That is why you need to manage your career risk. It happens in two steps. Step 1 is where you identify the risks associated with your career goals. Step 2 is where you create a plan to either mitigate the risk or move over to an alternate career goal. Thus, in your case if you think that there is a factor in play over which you have absolutely no control and which can potentially hinder you from achieving your goal then you will show maturity in your thought process by having an alternate career goal.

Setting the priority and choosing an appropriate alternative
When you have an alternate career goal, you need to make sure that you have your priorities set very clear. Your alternate career goal should not distract you from your primary goal. If your alternate goal has a potential to exhaust a significant amount of the resources at your disposal then that means it is in itself a risk to your primary goal. You need to avoid this scenario under any circumstances. This is where most people will loose out not only in an MBA application process but also in life. You will also need to make sure that you have clear definitions of when you will bail out of the primary and pursue the secondary.

Choose your primary goal wisely
Are there too many risks to your primary goal? If yes, then you loose out on one part of our premise. Your goal fails to seem realistic given the potential that you have and the resources available to you. So, remember your primary goal should be high enough with respect to your competition but at the same time it should not become too risky for you. Beyond that in order to make your career plan full proof, I think you can have an alternate goal which serves as a fall back for you.

Choose your secondary goal wisely
Choose a secondary or alternate goal in such a manner that you will still be able to utilize your potential and the learning from the MBA even when you are forced to bail out of the primary. Your current educational plan should fully support your primary goal and at least partially support your secondary goal if not fully. Thus, your primary and secondary goals should be able to derive synergy from each other without sharing common risks.

One final thought
You should not have any doubt in our mind about which one of the two is your primary goal. At the slightest hint of a doubt this strategy will backfire and will weaken your application. Remember that there is very little room for confusion.

Disclaimer
Now at this moment let me tell you that I am going to apply this year. Which means that I have never made a B-school application before and have never been interviewed by a B-school ad com. What I am writing over here is based out of my own professional experience. Despite, if my logic makes sense please think about it. Else, try to forget whatever you have read and go by your guts!
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 04 May 2012, 03:55
Great post @ goformba. You pretty much covered why a candidate could have an alternate goal. I just want to build on what you've said by mentioning that a candidate should not have an alternate long term goal. Your long term goal is the overall purpose of going to business school. Where it may be acceptable to have an alternate goal is in the short term. However both your primary and alternate short term goal should lead to that ultimate long term goal.

goformba gives a great guide for explaining why you are discussing two goals. It can definitely make you sound mature and realistic in your essays. What it also does is say, "I am going to reach my final destination no matter what!" That is what adcoms want to see.
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Re: Alternate goals? [#permalink] New post 04 May 2012, 05:23
I briefly mentioned an alternate career path that was focused on the same end goal for a Ross essay. My primary idea was to exit as a director of finance and operations for a charter school, but I introduced a curiosity for nonprofit management consulting. The underlying goal was the same one: improving educational opportunities for underprivileged children.

In my own mind, I rationalized the alternative because I was/am interested somewhat in consulting and because it played into Ross, where close to 40% exit to a consulting function and 0% exit to the nonprofit "industry" (according to BusinessWeek, although 0% is actually false or a round-down).

Critiquing my own work, the alternate path was a disruption to my essay that created an unresolved feeling to it. I over-thought it, and, in retrospect, wish I would've stuck to a singular idea.
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Re: Alternate goals?   [#permalink] 04 May 2012, 05:23
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