Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 12am

Why MBA: Four Questions to Answer BEFORE Starting an MBA Application

Why MBA: Four Questions to Answer BEFORE Starting an MBA Application main image

I started the MBA application process what feels like ages ago (even though it was only round one...). I feel like I have learned so much about essay writing and about myself in the process. With hindsight being 20/20, I would like to share a bit of advice with those starting their applications in round three.

Before writing one word of your essays: STOP, take a minute and answer four questions. These four questions will save you some time and bring focus to your application package, giving you a leg up on many other applicants.

NOTE: Not every school uses the information covered in the following four questions in their essays (although many top schools do). Nevertheless, this exercise will benefit you in one or more aspects of the application process, especially if you get the coveted invitation to interview!

Where do you see yourself in five years? (short-term career goals)

The classic “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question is important because an MBA is a professional degree and schools want to know whether they're letting someone in who is going to be a good alumni and a good ambassador of the university’s brand. They want someone with focus whose short-term career goals are benefitted by pursuing an MBA.

You might be thinking, “That is fine and good...but how do I actually fill in that blank?” Many applicants have a general idea about what they would like to do right after school but their general idea is very...well...general. I know I fell into this camp when I first began planning out my applications.

My advice is to take that general idea and do some research on Google and use LinkedIn to refine your short term career goals. If you still need to confirm your goal is the right fit (and to get more details so that you can write and speak intelligently on the subject), you can do informational interviews, talking to people who are doing something similar to what you want to do.

How has your current experience and education equipped you for an MBA?

It might seem clear to you why you want an MBA and how your path has brought you to the point where you are ready to pursue it, but you will need to spell that out in your essays for the adcom. If you can’t articulate what you have done that will make you successful in the future the adcom might not ‘get’ how awesome you are. So, do yourself a favor, take some time to think it through, write it down and parse it out.

Why MBA?

When answering the ‘Why MBA?’ question it is important to be specific about the school.

For instance, of course all MBAs teach finance, marketing and strategy, but your dream school might have a specific professor who teaches a particular class that you know will just blow your socks off. Write that down along with how it will equip you to get to your short-term goal (covered in question one).

Perhaps there is also a club that will help you get your foot in the door with Company Y. Write that down too...and do your research!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? (long-term career goals)

This question is otherwise known as your long-term career goals. You have to spell out for the adcom how your short-term career goals will be the building block for your long-term career goals. Also ask: Is it realistic? Is it a fairly common career path?

These are questions that the adcom will ask themselves. Remember to be specific, do some research on LinkedIn and career websites. If you start at your short-term career goals, where will you be in seven to 10 years? One way to screw this up is to not be genuine or to try and impress the adcom with a big title.

Another way is to have your long-term career goals not align with your short-term career goals. For instance, if you say: “My short-term goal is to be a brand manager at a consumer goods company but my long-term goal is to be VP of technology at an internet company?”

MBAGirlJourney is a young east coast professional who blogged about her mission to land a seat in a top 10 MBA program and to finance her higher education responsibly.  She was admitted to a top-tier program and now offers affordable resume and essay editing services to help other applicants.  To see more posts from MBAGirlJourney

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