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Preparing For Business School in the Future

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Preparing For Business School in the Future [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2010, 14:16
Hey all, this is my first post, although I've been a long time reader. I would like to get some advice on how to prepare myself for business school in the future. A little about my background: I'm a 24 year-old, first generation, Native American, college graduate coming from a small town in rural Oklahoma. I finished my BS in Computer Science from a smaller university in Oklahoma, graduating in 2007 with honors. I managed to finance my entire way through college by scholarship alone. Upon completion of my undergraduate, I undertook a position as a Software Engineer for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Throughout that time, I learned valuable principles about working with people and managing projects in general; all things that I couldn't have acquired through academic study.

Before graduating, I had tossed around the idea of maybe pursuing an advanced degree after graduating but thought that real-world experience (and a break) would be good for me for a while. That's when I chose to take up the offer at the Cherokee Nation. As aforementioned, the job was good, and I learned some valuable principles, but overall the job wasn't very challenging. After a year and a half, that's when I made the decision to pursue my masters degree. For the past few semesters, I've been enrolled as a full-time graduate student at the University of Texas. If all goes as planned, I will be completing my MS in December.

Although I'm not finished with my MS yet, I'm convinced that I would like to pursue an MBA in the future. I'm entrepreneurial by nature, and I've always had the dream of starting my own software consulting firm, and I'm confident in my skills as a software developer, but not so much on the business side. My question is, what kinds of things can I do right now, while I'm still a 4-6 years out, to prepare myself to be an attractive candidate to admission committees? Besides the obvious areas such as GMAT study and work experience, what can I do to become prepared? I've tried to be involved on campus as much as possible, although admittedly, it could be more. So, out of the list of areas below (and potentially others), could the community please offer their advice:

  • GMAT - how far in advance should one start reviewing material?
  • Extracurricular Activities - both in terms of on and off campus involvement. Should I be involved in student organizations while I'm still in school? Outside of school? What kind of organizations?
  • Job Experience - although the standard deviation is probably spread, what is the average amount of work experience I should be looking at obtaining, and also, what kind of work experience?
  • Volunteer Work - kind of an extension of the above, but what kind of non-profit/volunteer work should I look at?
  • Project Work - published work and/or personal projects
  • Other areas as needed

Not coming from a business related background, I'm not sure how that would affect my candidacy. From what I understand, top business schools consider applicants from every walk of life, so past experience in general is good, but not in one particular area. As far as actual schools, I haven't considered/not-considered any at this time. I'm pretty open right now. From what I've read, some schools tend to be stronger in different areas (finance, general management, etc.), so I suppose that I would pursue schools that have a stronger focus in general management or entrepreneurship, but that's just a though.

I would really appreciate the advice and help, and I look forward to reading all your comments with interest. Please let me know if you need any additional information, and I would be more than happy to provide you with it.

Bryan
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Re: Preparing For Business School in the Future [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2010, 17:03
I think your profile is fantastic so far. Get a 700+ GMAT and you are a lock for a top business school. Also, take a look at CGSM.org. Start thinking about leadership positions. If you can get on the board of a Cherokee non-profit that would accomplish a lot. I think 3 months on the GMAT is more than sufficient. However, be prepared to take it twice. I would work for a year after you finish your M.S. and then apply. Harvard and Stanford like 'em young, so you should try to apply before you are 26.
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Re: Preparing For Business School in the Future [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2010, 17:30
another organization to check out is management leadership for tomorrow (ml4t.org). it's supposed to be very competitive to get in, but if you do get in they train, coach and pretty much 'groom' you to be a successful b-school applicant.

also, check out the discussion in this thread: advice-for-class-of-2013-applicants-84157.html
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Re: Preparing For Business School in the Future [#permalink] New post 06 Mar 2010, 17:04
I think you have an awesome profile and the fact that you are planning early is commendable.

I'm an MLT MBA Prep Fellow right now so if you have any questions, send me a PM.

Volunteering with something you're interested in is important. If you're passionate about it, you'll have more fun and will give you some great stories for your essays and interviews.

Start planning to take the GMAT as soon as you finish you Masters. That way you'll still be in school mode to study and prepare for it.

If you can get close to or top a 700, there are a lot of programs who will trip over themselves to get you in the door (job recruiters too).

I really hope you're able to bring all this to fruition. Let me know if I can be of any help. MLT and CGSM especially.

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Re: Preparing For Business School in the Future [#permalink] New post 06 Mar 2010, 21:26
Hey guys, thank you very much for your replies. I've gained a lot of insight from them and also from the 2013 candidate thread. Below is what I have gathered, at this point, being still a few years out from the whole process:

  • Critical to focus on maintaining a high GPA
  • Look at becoming more involved both on and off campus (thank you shadowsjc and theoutlawfades for recommending the two organizations. I think these are two that I would definitely enjoy getting involved in)
  • Begin initial research of schools (At the preliminary stage, I don't have a lot of bias toward any particular group of school, so it's good to gain some objective insight into the schools)

Upon graduation, I need to switch focus to begin studying for the GMAT (should be more than sufficient time), stay involved, and land a good job in order to gain some valuable work experience (maybe an additional 1-2 years).

In addition to that, I have a couple of other questions. How do programs view candidates with non-business backgrounds...say candidates with an engineering background? Also, I haven't had any formal business classes, other than an undergraduate course in macroeconomics. Should I take a couple of introductory business classes in order to show interest in the business field?

Thanks again for the replies.
Re: Preparing For Business School in the Future   [#permalink] 06 Mar 2010, 21:26
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