What To Do After You Get Your Acceptance Letter
You did a Snoopy dance when you finally got the word. You frantically dialed up your loved ones to spread the news. You gushed over how happy you are on Facebook and Twitter. And you probably treated yourself to a fancy dinner or a shopping trip too. And why not? Getting into business school is a big deal! You worked so hard to reach this point. And you deserve to savor the moment.
For the past year, you’ve been asking yourself, “Will I get in?” Once the euphoria dies down, you’ll wrestle with a new question: “What do I do now?” But that’s only part of the equation. The real question you should ask is this: “How can I use the next few months to position myself to succeed?”
This week, Ivan Kerbel, CEO of Practice LLC and the Practice MBA Summer Forum, shares some strategies you might not have considered. According to Kerbel, the time between being accepted and starting business school is a critical period where you can position yourself to succeed both academically and professionally. When you start classes, you’ll face an enormous transition. The coursework is more rigorous and time-consuming. And you’ll have so many options, ranging from clubs to job interviews. If you don’t come with a plan, you’ll squander time and opportunities – and make the program much harder than it needs to be.
From bolstering your network to studying unfamiliar disciplines, you can use this transitional period to sidestep those traps that hinder most first years. Here are Ivan Kerbel’s strategies for making the best use of this time:
1) Start Looking For A Job: Wait, aren’t you going to business school to avoid all that? Actually, you should consider business school to be a two year interview with recruiters. As a result, Kerbel encourages students to adopt a pre-matriculation strategy that includes studying your ideal landing spots:
“It is not too early to start thinking about, researching, and preparing for the opportunities (and related deadlines) that may await you once you’re admitted to business school. As with any MBA-related activity, it makes sense to be aware of and sensitive to any occasion in which you come into contact with MBA recruiters, recognizing that having an opportunity to meet (and potentially be evaluated by) a possible future internship or full-time employer before the start of business school can both expand and limit your future opportunities.”
Although there is risk-and-reward in this approach, Kerbel adds that enrollees should consider pursuing internships at “companies that may not otherwise recruit MBAs or that are willing to take on a pre-MBA candidate.”
2) Pursue Continuing Education: When would be the best time to learn the basics of finance – when you’re buried in case studies and projects or have the free time to study at your pace? According to Kerbel, you should start reviewing course syllabi and expectations long before you step into the classroom:
“Think about the curriculum of the schools you are most likely to attend. How much of the material you are about to encounter as a first-year MBA will be brand new to you rather than subject matter that you’ve studied in the past or mastered in a previous work context? Can you acquire syllabi for MBA core courses and purchase text books to read in advance (if anything, to make the process of absorption and learning that much smoother once you are in the thick of business school life)? If there are obvious knowledge gaps – such as a lack of exposure to financial modeling via Excel – can you undertake coursework or skills-building programs that will help you perform with greater facility in business school, when the stakes will be much higher and the course material more sophisticated?”
Kerbel also advises students to get into the habit of reading business publications like The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, or The Financial Times every day (along with trade magazines, blogs, or financial reports pertinent to their desired industries, job roles, or employers). To Krebel, “knowledge is power,” noting that a students’ “ability to sound truly knowledgeable during job interviews is not something [they] will be able to cram for later.”
3) Talk To The Admissions People: You’ve been accepted. It should be smooth sailing from here, right? Not exactly. From Kerbel’s experience, “An offer of admission means that the school feels confident that you will collect sufficient credits to graduate (not that you won’t struggle along the way).” So what troubles could you face along the way? That’s an area where your admissions people could prove invaluable:
“Schools expect you to “make it”, but it’s up to you to excel…You may discover, after gentle inquiry, that it would be helpful to take an Accounting, Finance, or MBA Math course before the start of school. If you are an international student (and non-native English speaker) arriving in the U.S. or Western Europe, you may learn that your first year in a brand new host country environment and transition to a new academic, professional, and social environment, could be that much more successful if you undertake a few weeks of in-country immersion before embarking on the MBA…And, if you are from a ‘non-traditional’ MBA background (a category that includes experience as varied as military service, professional sports, the creative arts, public policy and government, education, medicine, and law), a career strategy focused pre-MBA program might help you start school on a stronger footing, helping you learn how to position your unique skills and experiences and revealing what the performance benchmarks are for employers vetting candidates in a range of industries and for a range of roles.”
And it’s not only the admissions team who can help. Kerbel suggests talking to “faculty, recruiters, alumni, and second-year students [who have] a first-hand appreciation of all of the ways in which even the most worthy MBA students can fall shy of their goals, while others seem to effortlessly succeed.”
On top of this, you’ll still need to find an apartment, handle your medical visits, and finalize your budget before starting business (Click here for advice on these areas). So you have a lot of your plate before you start class. And fall will be here before you know it. Take the holidays to celebrate. Then, hunker down and get ready to work.