To view an updated version of this blog post, click here.
Young professionals are constantly reevaluating their goals. If one of your goals is to apply to business school and get an MBA, now is the time to build out your leadership profile!
Although giving blood, participating in charity runs and making financial contributions to worthy causes are noble endeavors, they are not viewed by top MBA admissions committees as leadership or community involvement.
Similarly, you do not have to start a non-profit or sit on the junior boards of multiple organizations to demonstrate your leadership expertise.
We realize that you are a busy professional but so are those you will be competing against to get a seat at Harvard, Wharton, Stanford or another top MBA program. Your level of engagement NOW is viewed by admissions committee as a determining factor in how involved you will be during your MBA program.
Here are a few suggestions based on real client profiles!
Late English language learner?
An Indian client who had limited exposure to English during his primary and secondary schooling understood the struggles that others would face in the college classroom. He took initiative to establish English language tutoring on weekends in a local school district so the next generation will be better prepared than he was.
Woman in male dominated industry?
Many young women recognize that it would have been helpful to have a female mentor during their undergraduate years as they navigated their career choices. Think about establishing a formal mentoring program that brings together women who have established themselves to provide guidance and insight to the next generation of female leaders in their industry.
Aspiring amateur boxer?
Do you work out in a gym that also serves as a haven for low income kids in the local community? Consider establishing a tutoring/mentoring program at the gym to keep at risk youth off the streets and encourage them to stay in school. Better yet, connect with your undergrad alumni club to get other young alumni engaged to serve as mentors.
Future impact investor?
Think about how you can engage NOW with communities you hope to influence positively post-MBA. Your interest might lie in healthcare or education – look for opportunities to gain hands-on experience with real challenges and develop insights into the core issues that need to be addressed – volunteer in a local medical facility or mentor a student in an emerging market.
Reach out to the local Boy Scout council and get certified as a merit badge counselor or troop leader. Leverage your professional credentials and personal interests when determining what merit badges you might assist with – First Aid? Railroading? Digital Technology? Sustainability? The beauty of re-engaging with Boy Scouts is that it will allow you to demonstrate that YOUR habit of leadership started when you joined scouting at a much younger age. Hint: You can volunteer even if you never were a scout yourself.
Passion for the environmental stewardship and the outdoors?
Find the local organization that maintains hiking trails and offer your skills as a crew leader to build and maintain usable trails. Perhaps you can rally colleagues or a group of young alumni from your college to participate in a work-day.
Former college athlete?
Don’t just be a weekend warrior! Volunteer as a coach with a local sports organization to share your passion for the sport while helping younger athletes develop character through team engagement. Or if you still want to compete, take a leadership role in a local adult league and organize a tournament.
As you consider what YOU might do to build out your leadership skills, look for authentic ways to connect your involvement with your passions and goals. Look for opportunities to push new ideas, work with people different from yourself, and lead others.