Are you hoping to apply to business school in 2021 or beyond? Believe it or not, it is time to begin the MBA planning process!
MBA application essays will not be released until later this year (though some candidates will start working much sooner on essay questions less likely to change, as well as work on other application components), but there is plenty that MBA hopefuls should be doing now to strengthen their profiles.
While the earlier you start this process, the better (we often work with Early Planning clients a few months to 3 years BEFORE they plan to apply), there is still time for 2021/2022 applicants to better position themselves for success come application time. In fact, most of Personal MBA Coach’s Early Planning clients start around this time and then apply in the fall.
Much like the application process itself, early MBA planning varies based on a candidate’s individual circumstances. However, Personal MBA Coach’s free MBA Planning Guide outlines four particular areas candidates can focus on to improve their candidacy. Read below for a few highlights and download the complete guide for more details.
1. Making Your Career Work Harder For You
Without pivoting into a new career, there are steps you can and should take now to prepare for the essay writing and interview processes. This way, you will have plenty to talk about when it comes time to draft your essays and prepare for your interviews.
First, be honest with your manager about your ambitions and long-term goals. Once you are open about your desires, you will be better equipped to take on extra work in the office. Whether this means starting a new program or tackling an internal project, this work should boost your leadership skills and fill experience gaps.
Personal MBA Coach also recommends looking for mentoring opportunities to build your management skills and finding a mentor of your own for general career guidance.
2. Enhancing Your Extracurricular Profile
Strengthening extracurricular profiles is one of the top focal points that Personal MBA Coach has been working on with MBA candidates in the new year. By putting in the extra effort now, you will have ample opportunities to add real value before the deadlines in fall 2021. Taking this initiative will also help build a strong track record of involvement.
When developing your extracurricular strategy, keep in mind that quality matters more than quantity. Focus on a few organizations or areas that fit with the rest of your profile and demonstrate leadership.
3. Planning Ahead For The GMAT/GRE/EA
With GMAT, GRE, and Executive Assessment (EA) scores valid for up to 5 years, there is no reason to wait when it comes to test prep. In fact, the earlier in your career you take the test, the better.
Since the pressure to perform well is high, Personal MBA Coach recommends starting early and taking a practice test to set your baseline.
Once you see how you stack up, you can think about how you learn best and use this to inform your schedule and study plan. Developing a concrete plan will make you less likely to cram last minute.
Reading short articles in The Economist or Science is also a great way to expand your vocabulary and strengthen your reading comprehension skills. Doing so will make your life much easier come test time.
4. Expanding Your Network For Long-Term Success
Networking is a key part of every long-term career strategy. Whether you are planning to apply to business school later this year or a few years down the road, a strong network will help set you up for success.
You should look to build your network in four areas: at work, with alumni/current students from your target schools, with professionals in your preferred field, and with admissions professionals.
Personal MBA Coach suggests taking the following actions to grow your MBA network:
- Schedule one lunch or coffee with someone more experienced at work.
- Locate and email two current students or alums about their business school experiences.
- Reach out to one professional in your preferred field and ask for a virtual meeting.
- Locate one event in your area and register/put it on your calendar.
Remember, networking is a skill that you will perfect throughout your career. So, start small by taking one step today.
Are you ready to begin the MBA planning process? Download Personal MBA Coach’s detailed MBA planning guide to learn more!
Scott Edinburgh is a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan BS graduate and founded Personal MBA Coach 15 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 $6.5M+ in scholarships last cycle.