For the majority of MBA hopefuls, changing jobs while working on your applications is not ideal. However, all hope is not lost for those candidates looking to beef up their experiences and develop new skills before hitting submit!
Personal MBA Coach would like to share the steps you can and should be taking now to ensure that you have plenty to include in your application essays and discuss during your MBA interviews.
1) Be honest about your desires. It may seem simple, but many of us are afraid to be straightforward about our ambitions at work. Whether or not you can be transparent now about your MBA aspirations, let your manager in on your long-term goals. Tell her what skills you hope to master. If there is an experience at work you want to have, ask for it. Many managers will be more than happy to find projects to help you close existing gaps or develop new expertise.
2) Ask for extra projects. Look specifically for the ones that can fill experience gaps. Even if you have already let your manager know about the skills you are looking to perfect, do not rely on him to find assignments that fit your needs or assume they will take the place of your existing duties. In an ideal world, you would just work on your dream projects, but we know that is not possible. So even if your day-to-day tasks do not fill your skill set gaps, taking on additional projects will offer you more chances to build the skills you desire.
3) Get involved at the office. Internal projects are a great way to enhance your leadership experience. Almost every company has an internal initiative that requires help. Better yet, create new opportunities for yourself by setting up a new training series or developing an annual company off-site. Starting a new program at work will score you bonus points with your colleagues and give you plenty to share on your applications.
4) Look for mentoring opportunities. Even if you have not had the chance to manage your own team, you can still begin to perfect your management skills. Take a new hire or even an intern under your wings and show him the ropes. If you can be a formal mentor, great! But if such an opportunity does not exist, even an informal mentor relationship will supplement your leadership experience.
5) Get your own mentor. Find someone that you connect with at work or someone you admire and invite her for coffee or a drink. Ask about her career. See if she is willing to give you general career guidance. At this stage, you do not want to ask for anything specific. Instead, start to build a relationship. Over time, you might be lucky enough to develop a champion in the office or a future recommender. Regardless, getting advice from someone more senior can always help.
As you await the release of this year’s MBA applications (curious what to expect from this year’s 2019-2020 MBA application essays?), step up at work and position yourself to shine! Plus, if you are looking for other ways to get a jump start on your MBA applications, check out our 5-Month MBA application plan.
Scott Edinburgh is a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan BS graduate and founded Personal MBA Coach over 11 years ago with the goal of providing customized one-on-one support. Scott also serves on the Board of Directors for AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants and is invited to speak at MBA Admissions events globally. Our clients have been accepted to all top schools globally with a 96% success rate. They received $4.5M in total scholarships last year.