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Early MBA Planning - What can you do NOW?

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Early MBA Planning - What can you do NOW?  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Mar 2018, 23:40
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Early MBA Planning!



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A Procrastinator's Guide to - Well, Not Procrastinating!


For most of us at GMAT Club, who hang out in the GMAT side of things, the MBA application seems about 1-2 years away. While that is great to have time to ensure we send our best applications, it certainly helps more to consistently work towards building a great application over time. Here are a few things that I think will surely help you make a better application, while you are still a few months (or years!) down the road :

Your GMAT is *probably* not enough


Schools have had their average GMAT scores increase consistently every single year. The average, I repeat, AVERAGE GMAT score of the class of 2019 at Stanford is at an astronomical SEVEN FREAKING FORTY! For some of you who may not know, less than 10% of the entire GMAT application pool actually makes it to a 740. I see the GMAT score as your weight - sure there are some who are at a 10% bodyfat or under, but most of us could use with losing at least 5 pounds. Similarly, adding a few extra tens to your GMAT score will probably be a really good investment of your time, despite what your gut tells you. In my humble opinion, a 740 may change your entire game as opposed to a 720, especially if you are not blessed with underrepresented genes.

Your work experience could be more impressive than you think


So you work at a big consulting firm and you think you are a shoe in at Tuck? Think again! I know at least 5 people who have been analysts and junior consultants in MBB and Big Four who did not even score an interview even with really impressive project works to show for. My guess is that business schools increasingly value human impact more than any other forms. Sure it is impressive that you build a tool or a framework that increased efficiency of your team, but compare it against someone who *actually* talked to different people (or stakeholders as we call it in the education sector) to empathize with their problems and then solve them (sort of the basic fundamentals of design thinking). I think the latter is significantly more expensive and probably much more universally transferrable. One way to work on this is to actually seek projects or mini-tasks that *requires* you to interact with people more and solve their problems. One of the ways I did this at work, was figuring out what was hindering our young sales team achieve some of their targets. I realized, much to my surprise, that they were not fully briefed on certain nuances of our product/service and were directly thrown in with very ambitious targets. Without going into details of what I did to create buy-in, it helped me cite an example where I solved a problem by trying to understand what the problem is first. Anyway, you get the drift! Start taking some projects that involves people over computers, and stories over spreadsheets.


Your ECs have more blank spaces than Taylor Swift's old songs


One of the most common questions I get on the forums is "I have truckloads of leadership, but I really do not do anything outside work". While that is probably true for all you 100 hours a week folks trying to make it big but it certainly won't help you look more than one dimension in your MBA applications. If you really think you do not do anything outside work, think about what you are saying to the adcoms:

    1. Your life centers around your work - which is admirable from a grit perspective, but what will you be if you are fired tomorrow? Or maybe places in a completely different work-climate? Will you still manage to do as well as you are doing now?

    2. You are uninteresting, as a person - this may hurt, but if you do not have any interests outside work, you probably need one more than you need your MBA. I get it, sometimes life is hard and it is almost necessary to quit working on that marathon prep, or those dance lessons you used to take, or that volunteering stint you loved doing for a year. Life is tough and less urgent things almost always take a back seat. This is your time to actually go back to them and try to see if you are any good at things apart from the stuff that you do between 9 am to 11 pm. (no one should work that long, in my humble opinion!)

You haven't *really* done your school research


School research is essential, in my opinion, for two reasons. First, it shows that you are really into the school (duh!) but more importantly it also shows your willingness to put in the hours to network (which is a great transferable skill when it comes to recruiting in school. Here is what I mean by school research in descending order of priority!

    1. Visit the school - I think visiting the school should be your top priority if you can afford the time and money. Once you do visit though, get your presence felt. Talk to admissions, current students and professors and try to make an impression (a good one, please!). They will remember you and when adcoms read your essays they will go "I know that girl from Microsoft, she seemed like a go-getter!"

    2. Memorize the school website - most school websites are chock-full of school resources (some of them are even nauseating, looking at you Wharton!). If you do not know clubs, specializations, majors/concentrations/areasofemphasis (so many names for the same thing!), you are not doing yourself a favor.

    3. Talk to current students, alums - I realized that most people would be happy to chat with you. Try to find students and alums from your background OR your future industry/function (doing both is the best-case scenario). This would mean, scouring the school websites for "connect with a student" initiatives or just using plain old LinkedIn. In my experience, school websites have been siginificantly more useful than LinkedIn
.

Managing Expectations - You will not get into HBS



Most people who start off looking at schools early tend to be starry-eyed 24 year olds with their sights at HSW. This HSW or bust mentality will probably end up in a very painful R1 experience and a hasty app to other schools in R2. Maximize your chances and try to look beyond rankings. You will be surprised to find out that Ross is just as incredible (shameless plug, I am going there!) - and the median salary matches HSW too!

Have fun applying to business schools. Write essays responsibly!

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Re: Early MBA Planning - What can you do NOW?  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Mar 2018, 05:08
souvik101990 wrote:

Early MBA Planning!



Image

A Procrastinator's Guide to - Well, Not Procrastinating!


For most of us at GMAT Club, who hang out in the GMAT side of things, the MBA application seems about 1-2 years away. While that is great to have time to ensure we send our best applications, it certainly helps more to consistently work towards building a great application over time. Here are a few things that I think will surely help you make a better application, while you are still a few months (or years!) down the road :

Your GMAT is *probably* not enough


Schools have had their average GMAT scores increase consistently every single year. The average, I repeat, AVERAGE GMAT score of the class of 2019 at Stanford is at an astronomical SEVEN FREAKING FORTY! For some of you who may not know, less than 10% of the entire GMAT application pool actually makes it to a 740. I see the GMAT score as your weight - sure there are some who are at a 10% bodyfat or under, but most of us could use with losing at least 5 pounds. Similarly, adding a few extra tens to your GMAT score will probably be a really good investment of your time, despite what your gut tells you. In my humble opinion, a 740 may change your entire game as opposed to a 720, especially if you are not blessed with underrepresented genes.

Your work experience could be more impressive than you think


So you work at a big consulting firm and you think you are a shoe in at Tuck? Think again! I know at least 5 people who have been analysts and junior consultants in MBB and Big Four who did not even score an interview even with really impressive project works to show for. My guess is that business schools increasingly value human impact more than any other forms. Sure it is impressive that you build a tool or a framework that increased efficiency of your team, but compare it against someone who *actually* talked to different people (or stakeholders as we call it in the education sector) to empathize with their problems and then solve them (sort of the basic fundamentals of design thinking). I think the latter is significantly more expensive and probably much more universally transferrable. One way to work on this is to actually seek projects or mini-tasks that *requires* you to interact with people more and solve their problems. One of the ways I did this at work, was figuring out what was hindering our young sales team achieve some of their targets. I realized, much to my surprise, that they were not fully briefed on certain nuances of our product/service and were directly thrown in with very ambitious targets. Without going into details of what I did to create buy-in, it helped me cite an example where I solved a problem by trying to understand what the problem is first. Anyway, you get the drift! Start taking some projects that involves people over computers, and stories over spreadsheets.


Your ECs have more blank spaces than Taylor Swift's old songs


One of the most common questions I get on the forums is "I have truckloads of leadership, but I really do not do anything outside work". While that is probably true for all you 100 hours a week folks trying to make it big but it certainly won't help you look more than one dimension in your MBA applications. If you really think you do not do anything outside work, think about what you are saying to the adcoms:

    1. Your life centers around your work - which is admirable from a grit perspective, but what will you be if you are fired tomorrow? Or maybe places in a completely different work-climate? Will you still manage to do as well as you are doing now?

    2. You are uninteresting, as a person - this may hurt, but if you do not have any interests outside work, you probably need one more than you need your MBA. I get it, sometimes life is hard and it is almost necessary to quit working on that marathon prep, or those dance lessons you used to take, or that volunteering stint you loved doing for a year. Life is tough and less urgent things almost always take a back seat. This is your time to actually go back to them and try to see if you are any good at things apart from the stuff that you do between 9 am to 11 pm. (no one should work that long, in my humble opinion!)

You haven't *really* done your school research


School research is essential, in my opinion, for two reasons. First, it shows that you are really into the school (duh!) but more importantly it also shows your willingness to put in the hours to network (which is a great transferable skill when it comes to recruiting in school. Here is what I mean by school research in descending order of priority!

    1. Visit the school - I think visiting the school should be your top priority if you can afford the time and money. Once you do visit though, get your presence felt. Talk to admissions, current students and professors and try to make an impression (a good one, please!). They will remember you and when adcoms read your essays they will go "I know that girl from Microsoft, she seemed like a go-getter!"

    2. Memorize the school website - most school websites are chock-full of school resources (some of them are even nauseating, looking at you Wharton!). If you do not know clubs, specializations, majors/concentrations/areasofemphasis (so many names for the same thing!), you are not doing yourself a favor.

    3. Talk to current students, alums - I realized that most people would be happy to chat with you. Try to find students and alums from your background OR your future industry/function (doing both is the best-case scenario). This would mean, scouring the school websites for "connect with a student" initiatives or just using plain old LinkedIn. In my experience, school websites have been siginificantly more useful than LinkedIn
.

Managing Expectations - You will not get into HBS



Most people who start off looking at schools early tend to be starry-eyed 24 year olds with their sights at HSW. This HSW or bust mentality will probably end up in a very painful R1 experience and a hasty app to other schools in R2. Maximize your chances and try to look beyond rankings. You will be surprised to find out that Ross is just as incredible (shameless plug, I am going there!) - and the median salary matches HSW too!

Have fun applying to business schools. Write essays responsibly!


Souvik,

Great detailed post! As requested, here are some additional thoughts from my end.

How to really interact with students / alums: More is not necessary more here folks. While many students and alumni make themselves available to chat, these are busy people. I usually advise clients to talk with 1-2 people per school (more for some schools) and if you get someone on the phone, try to keep it to 15 minutes unless they are really interested in talking longer. Being respectful of their time will help you in the long-run. I have heard horror stories of applicants who ask 30 questions and almost badger someone. At the end of that call, they definitely don't leave a positive impression.

Think hard about ranking: We actually published a piece on this on our blog recently. Essentially, ranking is important, but it is not everything. Think about your specific post-MBA goals and then dive into the career reports of the schools you are considering targeting. It may surprise you that some schools do really well in a certain area and perhaps may punch above their weight, so to speak. If you are getting an MBA to get a specific job, look into who actually gets those jobs from the schools you are targeting.

GMAT: I will just add one brief comment for now. Quant is more important than verbal. Many of you may know this, but I often see high GMAT scores with a low quant and unfortunately the quant is a lot more important (especially if English is not your first language). Don't ignore verbal, but spend more time on quant as you prepare.

Best,
Scott
www.personalmbacoach.com
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Re: Early MBA Planning - What can you do NOW? &nbs [#permalink] 23 Mar 2018, 05:08
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