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What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)

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What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 22 May 2019, 13:29
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What should you do before starting your MBA?

Should you quit your job? or should you work until the end?
Should you take math classes?
Should you get an internship to improve your employment chances?
Should you Travel or save money?
What should you actually do? :)

I will attempt to address these based on my personal experience and feedback from recent grads.

  1. Should you stop working to your best abilities at work? Should you burn the bridge and fire away that email to the entire company (explaining how much they suck?)
    Probably not. Believe it or not, networking does not simply mean meeting new people once you enter bschool. It also means keeping your current relationships intact. No matter how much you might hate your boss, no one can't predict whether you may need his/her help in the future.

    I've met a M7 student this past summer during after-work/internship networking event in NYC. He/she struck out during on campus recruiting at his/her school, and had to return to his/her old employer to do a paid summer internship. He/she kept in touch with various people from his/her ex-employer, that he/she was able to at least get a paid gig for the summer. (by Nink)

  2. Get More Confidence - Business school will mess with your head and your confidence. You will have a lot of competing priorities, clubs, opportunities, and lots of competition from other students who will appear better at everything and super-human. Think about how you can better yourself (below are a few ideas) but the main one - how can you get more confident? Now you have a few months left until you will be networking, recruiting, schmoozing - what can give you an edge? A new wardrobe? (don't go crazy as you will need the money) is it ability to bench 200 lbs? We all have our insecurities and the more you can do to sandbag and beef them up, the better you will perform. Here are more ideas:

  3. Travel - if you have never left your home country (be it US or India), one of the best opportunities to dip your toe in the water and expand your horizons is to do a few quick trips with friends or on your own - the cheaper the better. Backpack in Asia or take one of those $99 flights to Europe on an almost bankrupt airline. Enjoy yourself and meet some new folks but stay on budget and within reason - this is not the time to burn your cash. Travel today is equivalent to a status. 5 years ago, your iPhone could showcase your status. 10 years ago, a fancy watch, and shoes did the job. Today, it is your instagram feed with exotic pictures. Travel is a great opportunity to reflect, grow and to connect with other people. As cheap as it is today, you need to get stamps in your passport. This is especially true for those joining one of the Top 20 programs with immersion tracks or mystery trips (Ross and Kellogg come to mind).

  4. Get better at your future job: speaking & networking - your next 2 years will be spent explaining to disinterested recruiters why you are better than the next guy they will be seeing or the one they just saw. If you are shy or introverted or come from another culture that is more reserved, make sure you focus on this area - get your speaking skills up - not only accent but also wit, jokes, and smart-ass come backs. Get your story together now - why are you looking for that consulting position in renewable resources or why is it your dream to be a PM at a tech company? My suggestion is always to join Toast Masters - it has helped me quite a bit in my speaking skills (skills are perishable however, so you have to keep doing it). The club also connected me with a few great individuals - speech coaches, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. You will find that a good Toast Masters club (look for the one that has a Distinguished Club Award). If you are moving from another country, Toastmasters will give you an immediate network in the local club - try to go through the entire 10-speech package or as far as you can get and take some leadership roles in your club, so you can contribute to your new home club when you start BSchool)

  5. Plan to get a Driver's License in the US (International Tip) - everything in the US rotates around a driver's license - that's the form of the ID. If you buy a beer, you probably don't want to carry or whoop out your Moroccan passport (clerk likely will think it is fake) and the same way clubs and bars require you to prove you are over drinking age (they card everyone - including really old dudes to avoid discrimination), so you will need an ID, and getting a driver's license is the best route to be more "normal" if you are an international student.

  6. Live on Campus - surround yourself with a mix of domestic and international students. Don't just run to your Moroccan community or hang out only at the Chinese restaurants and speak only Chinese with your Asian Buddies - that's a recipe for a miserable 2 years. Instead of renting an apartment off campus by yourself or with a person from your country (a very natural thing to do - i would have done it too), live on campus instead where they will put you in groups with domestic and other international students from a variety of countries. Trust me, while it may be a bit more $$, you will be much more engaged. In my case, it was double and I lived off-campus and it was lonely on weekends when I had no social life unless i arranged something. The dark truth about Business School is that there is a split between domestic and international students and while it may not be noticeable, both groups seem to gravitate to their own centers. As they say, birds of feather flock together - you will do much better however, if you don't flock together... whether you are from Ohio or Bombay - you will do much better by mixing with a very diverse group of your classmates and expanding your horizons. Start looking for housing early! Best spots go first.

  7. Make Yourself more Approachable - sometimes easier said and done and some of us are very set in our ways but if you just came out of a deployment to Iraq or you were an engineer or technical trader, think about ways to ease into community at the business school. This means both not judging and not stereotyping and also not scaring people (military guys ;-) - you definitely want to be yourself with close friends but make effort to fit in the first time you meet people and esp when recruiting. Make that extra effort and it will pay off. If you are an international applicant, that may mean learning a bit about the US culture, sports, and other important small talk topics. I don't care that you don't understand American Football or know nothing about it. You managed to figure out GMAT, so figure out American Football so that on monday after the Superbowl you don't seem/sound/stick out like a sore thumb.

  8. Should you get an early start by reading various textbooks, etc?
    Probably not. I admire your desire to excel in academics but you are ALREADY well prepared for bschool at this point. Most of you will do very well in school. Rather, I would work on your communication skills. If you are not a good public speaker, I would practice NOW and get used to speaking in front of strangers, etc. This is important because without great communication skills (including the ability to sell yourself effectively), you will have a tough time in class and during recruiting.

    I remember reading a BW article long time ago about a Haas MBA student who struck out during an interview with a top consulting firm because the interviewer thought he/she was "too introverted" and reserved. He/she wasn't able to speak well during the interview. However, due to professor's recommendation, the same firm ended up interviewing him/her again and he/she ended up with a FT offer.

    I've said it before in the Yale thread. Work on your killer closing speech now. It comes in handy during recruiting. Interview is not about going in and answering their questions. Before you go it, KNOW exactly what YOU WANT THEM TO KNOW ABOUT YOU. Make a mental list of those items in your head. Before the interview is over, MAKE SURE EVERYTHING on your list was communicated to the other side. That makes a successful interview. (by Nink)

  9. Finally - Manage your future expectations now
    What can MBA do for you? Different people have different expectations. Usually, it's really optimistic. But no matter where you end up matriculating, in the end, it's all up to you.

    If you are a bad driver, and you buy a Mercedes, it's not going to make you a better driver. You will simply be a bad driver driving a really nice car.

    If you expect that your degree from school X will suddenly change your life completely, you will be making a similar mistake. A top bschool MBA will definitely open you doors. But to make the best out of your opportunity, you have to evolve. You have to make an effort. I don't mean that you should simply: 1) excel in classes and get great grades, 2) attend all the workshops and seminars, 3) go to all the networking events, etc

    You should do all that and make small efforts such as: 1) If you are bad with names, make an effort to change that. If you meet someone new, the old "you" would say, "I will learn his/her name eventually." Change that and say, "I don't care what I have to do today. Even if it means I have to spend next 20 minutes and tell her all my embarrassing flaws, I am going to know that person and learn his/her name today."

    If you were never in to sports, take this opportunity (over next 2 years) and find new friends who are into sports - learn why they are into sports, and attend sporting events with them and REALLY make an effort to see if there are any sporting events that you may end up liking.

    If you have never went to a broadway show, take this opportunity and change that. Make an effort. Who knows what you really like anyway? I learn new things every day and as a result, I evolve for worse or for better. But what I know is that I am not the same person that I was 2 years ago.

    Try to make small efforts like that over the next 2 years. You will be pleasantly surprised... (by Nink)


What are you doing this summer before BSCHOOL?
Current students - What did you or regret not doing last year?
Alums - what would you change?



--
To be continued and Inspired by the Nink's famous 2011 thread: https://gmatclub.com/forum/admitted-i-c ... 09102.html
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Originally posted by bb on 14 May 2019, 23:31.
Last edited by bb on 22 May 2019, 13:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2019, 07:50
Thanks a lot for the tips bb.
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2019, 22:03
Adding a bit more from feedback i have received privately:

Quote:
Probably You can add for recruiting especially consulting. I felt, I can be better if I had extra to read the case prep books before. it was difficult to manage time to read those case prep books and my schedule with fall term, assignment etc.


I concur - if you are aiming for consulting switching your career from Marketing to Finance or Operations to PM role, you need to be on top of your game and expect next steps in recruiting - interviewing, networking, etc. Make sure you know how to do case interviews; you practice and you read the books about how to nail them while you are hiking in Nepal or chilling on the beach in Brazil.

Do your homework early and ahead of time!
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 16 May 2019, 08:22
bb wrote:
Adding a bit more from feedback i have received privately:

Quote:
Probably You can add for recruiting especially consulting. I felt, I can be better if I had extra to read the case prep books before. it was difficult to manage time to read those case prep books and my schedule with fall term, assignment etc.


I concur - if you are aiming for consulting switching your career from Marketing to Finance or Operations to PM role, you need to be on top of your game and expect next steps in recruiting - interviewing, networking, etc. Make sure you know how to do case interviews; you practice and you read the books about how to nail them while you are hiking in Nepal or chilling on the beach in Brazil.

Do your homework early and ahead of time!


Great article as usual bb. I disagree with the private feedback though. It is very tempting to buy those case books and get a headstart but honestly consulting recruiting is so incredibly nuanced that without strong peer support, it might actually be damaging to do it on your own. First of all, there are a lot of concepts that you actually learn in school that go into case prep (microeconomics of sunk cost fallacy, economic costs, cost accounting, contribution margins, financial statements, basic marketing etc) that you just wouldn't know. Second, most people improve on casing by practicing with peers, and most schools have tight structures to help you with that. I think once you have done enough cases with others, it is fine to do on your own but definitely not the other way around. Lastly, I have first hand experienced the casing fatigue (similar to GMAT Prep - people who take 2-3 years to prep for the test do not do very well) after doing a million cases. Figure out what is optimum for you and maintain a strong error log. Don't overdo it.
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 16 May 2019, 16:03
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souvik101990 wrote:

Great article as usual bb. I disagree with the private feedback though. It is very tempting to buy those case books and get a headstart but honestly consulting recruiting is so incredibly nuanced that without strong peer support, it might actually be damaging to do it on your own. First of all, there are a lot of concepts that you actually learn in school that go into case prep (microeconomics of sunk cost fallacy, economic costs, cost accounting, contribution margins, financial statements, basic marketing etc) that you just wouldn't know. Second, most people improve on casing by practicing with peers, and most schools have tight structures to help you with that. I think once you have done enough cases with others, it is fine to do on your own but definitely not the other way around. Lastly, I have first hand experienced the casing fatigue (similar to GMAT Prep - people who take 2-3 years to prep for the test do not do very well) after doing a million cases. Figure out what is optimum for you and maintain a strong error log. Don't overdo it.


Agree with all the points about case prep fatigue, peer support etc :thumbup: . Of course, we need know all the microeconomics concepts, strategy, marketing concepts to prepare for it. I mentioned the case prep books to go through what we all will be doing during our consulting recruitment cycle. Just like reading a syllabus of the class of which we are signing up or a "plan for plan" sort of thing. Many students who set their eyes on consulting would already know what they need to do during the recruitment cycle before coming school. Unfortunately not all do. This is also for people who want switch their career or have some back up option to try other industry recruitment. Maybe I should have been clear in my suggestion to buy those books and preparing for case prep. Thanks for pointing out!
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2019, 02:04
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Anyone else is waiting for the 2nd article? :-D
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2019, 13:20
mbaapplicant2019 wrote:
Anyone else is waiting for the 2nd article? :-D


Huh.... what do you mean? ;)
I was not planning to be putting anything together (unless anyone had specific questions)... or was that joke?
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 25 May 2019, 20:09
souvik101990 wrote:
bb wrote:
Adding a bit more from feedback i have received privately:

Quote:
Probably You can add for recruiting especially consulting. I felt, I can be better if I had extra to read the case prep books before. it was difficult to manage time to read those case prep books and my schedule with fall term, assignment etc.


I concur - if you are aiming for consulting switching your career from Marketing to Finance or Operations to PM role, you need to be on top of your game and expect next steps in recruiting - interviewing, networking, etc. Make sure you know how to do case interviews; you practice and you read the books about how to nail them while you are hiking in Nepal or chilling on the beach in Brazil.

Do your homework early and ahead of time!


Great article as usual bb. I disagree with the private feedback though. It is very tempting to buy those case books and get a headstart but honestly consulting recruiting is so incredibly nuanced that without strong peer support, it might actually be damaging to do it on your own. First of all, there are a lot of concepts that you actually learn in school that go into case prep (microeconomics of sunk cost fallacy, economic costs, cost accounting, contribution margins, financial statements, basic marketing etc) that you just wouldn't know. Second, most people improve on casing by practicing with peers, and most schools have tight structures to help you with that. I think once you have done enough cases with others, it is fine to do on your own but definitely not the other way around. Lastly, I have first hand experienced the casing fatigue (similar to GMAT Prep - people who take 2-3 years to prep for the test do not do very well) after doing a million cases. Figure out what is optimum for you and maintain a strong error log. Don't overdo it.


Hi souvik101990
I hope you are well and got the internship you hope for.

As a seasoned consultant in the operation field, I disagree with you but partly. Many career switcher do not know what consulting is. what is the role of a consultant? what is MBB? what is the difference between them? resume....etc. I target the soft the side of the consulting with advising to touch about case interview. This helped many before starting their MBA journeys. It is kinda warming up. However, I agree with that people that many may take the warming up to burning out and buy many book as many as they can and may enroll in paid courses, which I do not advise as big schools actually host many of them inside schools beside all the resources available in each school.

I wish you happy journey
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jun 2019, 19:02
Thanks for the thoughtful advice!
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Re: What to Do before Starting MBA (and Not to)   [#permalink] 24 Jun 2019, 19:02
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