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Career Goals and Why MBA!

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MBA Section Director
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Joined: 19 Mar 2012
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Location: India
GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V42
GPA: 3.8
WE: Marketing (Non-Profit and Government)
Career Goals and Why MBA!  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jun 2018, 07:13
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This is a part of the Early MBA Prep 2018-19 project. Look out for brand new artciles, videos and live chats every Monday. See the full details HERE


Why MBA?


This fall, every MBA applicant will be answering this question in their mind, at family gatherings, and in their business school applications. Most dread hearing it asked because they never have the perfect answer nor will it be the same every time. At first, the answer usually starts off a bit uncertain, vague, and somewhat insecure, but as time progresses and a few essay drafts are written, the explanation becomes more polished and confident. Throughout my eight years with GMAT Club, I have heard many explanations – anything from a career change to a fresh start after a broken relationship. As you consider your answer, I’d like to share the top 3 reasons most use to pursue a business degree and how you can stand out. Whatever you decide to put in your essays, remember that the key to getting into your first choice school and being happy there, is to be honest, passionate, and committed.





Top Reasons for getting an MBA


  • Career Change
    Changing careers or functions, such as going from IT into consulting or finance into marketing, is probably the most common reason for getting an MBA. Workers switch careers several times during their life time (2-3 times is the latest statistics) and MBA is a good and frequent path. For one, switching a career is not easy – why would anyone take a finance person to do a marketing job? Business school offers a buffer to that (taking marketing classes, getting a marketing internship, and networking with students and alumni in the field). Second, business school often allows one to “sample” careers in the safe environment of a class or a small group. Often thrown into groups with students from all walks of life, one gets the inside perspective on what many industries and jobs are like – consulting, banking, etc. Finally, a career change could also mean starting your own business or vice versa and business school could allow one to gain the missing skills or build key relationships for their future business. Many schools want to attract successful or promising entrepreneurs and sponsor business plan competitions such as the Business Plan Challenge at University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


    Recommendation:
    The keys to cracking this question are:
    • to be as specific as possible in your response, such as “I would like to become an IT outsourcing consultant in the United States, working for Accenture”.
    • To clearly outline your current role and how MBA will help you bridge into the new one.
    • To demonstrate understanding of the role you are planning to pursue.

  • Career Advancement
    Often people get stuck in lower/middle management in large organizations and it may take years for the next promotion. MBA is a good way to break this pattern and signal that you are ready for a stronger position in middle/senior management. For others, a promotion may be there but they are lacking management/business skills to step into it. This is the best situation to be in and a very common reason to enroll into Executive or Part-Time programs. This is a financially advantageous move if sponsored by the employer – the applicant keeps their income, gets free tuition, and is guaranteed a job after graduation in exchange for longer-term commitment. However, the common opinion is that the non-financial value of part-time programs falls short of a Full Time 2-year MBA program which allows one to focus on their career goals and dedicate themselves to self-improvement without major distractions (no, they never have pool parties in business school).
    Recommendation: 1) A common path is to paint a strong image of current/past successes, outline that you are at the limit of your career/skill-set, and the next logical step is an MBA that will open a number of doors. 2) Be realistic and avoid coming off naïve about the value of MBA and what it will give you. MBA is not a magical transformation and as the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review suggests – management is not a profession and business education is not one-size-fits-all (See “No, Management is Not a Profession” by Richard Barker, HBR 2010).


Final Recommendations:
After you are done answering the “Why MBA” question, the admissions committee should clearly see that you in a great need of an MBA and by declining you, they will be making a big mistake
This may sound counter-intuitive but apply to your second choice schools first. Many applicants find that they write much better essays and applications after some practice
Pick your schools carefully – only apply to the schools that you would actually attend. Ask yourself – “If I only get into school X, will I actually attend X?” This will save you time and energy
Research, Research, Research. You must know everything about your top choice school – it will give you an edge in the entire application package (selecting the right recommender or performing well on the interview) and will show in your essays one way or another and will catch an eye of the admissions committee


Top 3 Wrong Reasons for getting an MBA:


  • Replacement for work experience: Though there are MBA programs that will enroll students straight from college, most emphasize the need for work experience and require applicants to demonstrate a degree of leadership before admission. There is a reason work experience is required – it will help you better apply class knowledge, enable you to contribute to the class more, fit in with other students, and finally get a job after graduation.

  • Specific Training – getting an MBA in order to reap financial or marketing training that can be achieved faster and more effectively using other programs.

  • Figure out one’s life – yes, MBA is a break for 20 months but it is a terrible reason if all you want to do is figure out your personal life and goals. Everyone will be doing some soul-searching during the program but nobody likes a confused person without goals or purpose.

Recommended Reading:
Great book on writing business school application essays: Great Application Essays for Business School by Paul Bodine
Good overall book for business school admissions: How to Get into the Top MBA Programs by Richard Montauk
Collection of real essays with analysis: Business School Essays that Made a Difference by Princeton Review


Other Resources


Why MBA? Why Now?
A Why MBA Essay Analysis and Review

Thank you to MBA Prep School and ARLee Consulting for making great content for this article! Also check out Essay Professor - a free MBA App tool by MBAPrepSchool for GMAT Club members!
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MBA Section Director
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Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 5121
Location: India
GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V42
GPA: 3.8
WE: Marketing (Non-Profit and Government)
Re: Career Goals and Why MBA!  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jun 2018, 07:33
MBA Section Director
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Joined: 19 Mar 2012
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WE: Marketing (Non-Profit and Government)
Re: Career Goals and Why MBA!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jul 2018, 09:55
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Q&A Highlights from the chat!



1. How much should a career goal align with current industry of an applicant?


ARLee Consulting - It helps that career goals are somewhat aligned with your current industry since this makes you more "employable" post-MBA. However, many MBA applicants precisely decide to do an MBA to change either industry, function or geography.

MBA Prep School - When it does align there is an advantage to the candidate because it shows they are already progressing in the industry they want to go into in the long-run. That said, MBA programs realize that the degree is for career changers and that means it is a-okay to write about moving to a different industry. Management consulting is often a good post-MBA goal with an eye towards building expertise in another industry. You should explain how you will break into the new industry.

it would be great if you could mention a few successful client examples of when they have been able to articulate a different industry as a post MBA goal than what they were doing at the time of the application.



ARLee Consulting - A former client was a lawyer wanting to go into PE. What he wrote in his career goals essay is that, realizing the career change would be very challenging, he would use Management Consulting post-MBA as bridge to PE. He also mentioned the current skills he had that make him a good candidate to make the transition. He was accepted to his dream school.

A Career Goal should be ambitious enough to show a clear need for an MBA. However, it should not be too ambitious to the point where the goal is unrealistic or non achievable.

MBA Prep School - I had a client write about moving from i-banking to the music industry. Music was her first love as she was a competitive piano player growing up. I just had lunch with her and she is working for Universal Music Group in their strategy function following her MBA from Harvard Business School! She convinced HBS ad comm and Universal that her financial acumen and understanding of business strategy combined with her passion for the music industry to make her a great hire.

3. Can the long term goal be totally different from the short term?



ARLee Consulting - It depends on what you mean by totally different. Short-term goal will be used to achieve the Long-term goal so somehow they must be connected. For example, in the previous example, Management Consulting and PE might come across as two complete different things, but in reality there is a lot you can leverage from your Management Consulting experience in PE.

MBA Prep School - As you’ll learn in the video we posted in the forum on this topic (https://gmatclub.com/forum/career-goals ... 69043.html), I fall into the VERY ambitious category when it comes to long-term career goals. At MBA Prep School, we work with clients to define their "Dream Job". The M7 want to admit candidates how are movers and shakers and want to lead and want to change the world. You then must persuade the admissions board that you have a career action plan for getting there.

4. How far out do you see when you write goals?



ARLee Consulting - Some applications directly ask about career goals 5 or 10 years down the road. If they do not specify, you can address (a) immediate post-MBA goals and (b) long-term goals (5-10 years post-MBA). This being said, it is perfectly fine to go beyond 10 years, especially if the goal you have set for yourself is very ambitious and it will require longer to be reached.

MBA Prep School - The Dream Job is well into the future - 10-15 years. But we don’t recommend you specify how quickly you’ll get that CEO title. It may be that you’ll become a CEO at age 38 (i.e.,10 years after business school). Then again, most CEOs are older than that and you don’t want to end up sounding arrogant.

5. Is it ever advisable write different goals for different schools?



MBA Prep School - I have had only a couple clients in my admissions consulting career write different career goals for different schools. I believe in the power of authenticity -- Wholeheartedly own your career action plan and you’ll end up being admitted to a program that believes in you and believes their school can help you to achieve your professional ambitions!

ARLee Consulting - I would recommend you to stick to the same goals in all applications, as best goals are those who are genuine and you really want to pursue. However, you can "tweak" your same career goals depending on the school. For example, there are schools who want candidates to directly address how they will impact society. So in this case, I would go one step further and tailor your goal to show impact on society.
_________________

Have an MBA application Question? ASK ME ANYTHING!

My Stuff: Four Years to 760 | MBA Trends for Indian Applicants

My GMAT Resources
V30-V40: How to do it! | GMATPrep SC | GMATPrep CR | GMATPrep RC | Critical Reasoning Megathread | CR: Numbers and Statistics | CR: Weaken | CR: Strengthen | CR: Assumption | SC: Modifier | SC: Meaning | SC: SV Agreement | RC: Primary Purpose | PS/DS: Numbers and Inequalities | PS/DS: Combinatorics and Coordinates

My MBA Resources
Everything about the MBA Application | Over-Represented MBA woes | Fit Vs Rankings | Low GPA: What you can do | Letter of Recommendation: The Guide | Indian B Schools accepting GMAT score | Why MBA?

My Reviews
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Re: Career Goals and Why MBA!  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jul 2018, 02:25
Great post! :thumbup:
If we may add some resources from our website:

How to Find Your Post-MBA Career Goals for your MBA Application: https://aringo.com/hacking-the-mba-appl ... plication/

Career Goals essay samples: https://aringo.com/Career-Goals-Essay/
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https://ARINGO.com/ – MBA Admissions Consulting

Specializing in candidates with GMATs under 720 or low GPAs

Try our free Admissions Chances Calculator - https://aringo.com/mba-admission-chances-calculator/

All statistics verified by Ernst & Young - https://aringo.com/aringo-mba-admission-statistics/

Re: Career Goals and Why MBA! &nbs [#permalink] 11 Jul 2018, 02:25
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