During these uncertain times, many are doing a great deal of self-reflection and thinking about what comes next. If business school is possibly in your future, take some time between Netflix binges and Zoom happy hours to prepare for submitting your Round 1 applications this fall. Here are seven things you can be doing now.
1. Articulate Why MBA? And Why Now?
Earning an MBA should be a transformational experience. For two years, you grow your skills, knowledge and relationships to take your career to the next level. But WHY do you want an MBA? And WHY is NOW the right time to get one? Just because your friends are getting MBAs doesn’t mean that you need one too.
2. Understand where you stand with GMAT/GRE – Re-assess
Before you spend too much time researching MBA programs, it is important to know where you stand in terms of your competitiveness on your standardized test. Stay on top of the testing situation for your preferred test. Since many testing centers are closed, you could have the opportunity to take the test from the comfort of your own home. This could be a big win for those who suffer from test anxiety and haven’t been able to achieve practice test scores on the real test.
If you haven’t achieved the score you are targeting, you may want to investigate additional support such as an online test preparation class or even a tutor to provide focused guidance. DON’T WAIT! Trust me. You do NOT want to be working on essays while studying for a standardized test.
3. Explore and engage with target business schools
Class and campus visits have been canceled through the end of the semester, but most MBA programs have quickly switched gears to offer online information sessions, student chats and more. If you haven’t already done so, sign up to get emails from any program that looks interesting to you so you know what events are on the horizon.
Not sure how to figure out what MBA programs are right for you? Join Susan Cera and Jennifer Jackson for a FREE webinar – What Business Schools are Right for YOU? – Tuesday, April 7 at 8PM ET or Wednesday, April 8 at 12PM ET. Spots are Limited – Register Now!
4. Identify resources you will leverage to reach YOUR goals
While there are many great MBA programs, you need to find the ones that offer the resources that will move you towards YOUR goals. Investigate course offerings in your intended field and identify specific classes or professors you hope to learn from.
Outside of the classroom, think about which clubs, conferences and experiential learning opportunities will allow you to enhance your career. Reach out to students who are in leadership roles of clubs that you are interested in joining.
Think beyond just the business school; are there university-wide initiatives that support your interests? Perhaps an entrepreneurship center that brings together students from business, law, engineering, healthcare and public policy.
5. Maintain contact with your recommenders
At this point, you should have a short list of individuals who you might ask to write your recommendations. Keep in touch. Ask for constructive feedback that you can address over the next few months. Tell them about why you want an MBA and what you have learned about yourself and different programs through self-reflection and school research.
6. Remain committed at work
Although you may be working from home, now is NOT the time to take your foot off the gas. Use the next few months to focus on addressing any weaknesses or gaps in your work. Look for creative ways to keep your team engaged and motivated. Explore opportunities to lead a company-wide initiative. Ask for an assignment in which you can develop new skills or knowledge.
7. Start with busy work
There is no Common App for business school, so you need to create a centralized repository of the ‘standard’ materials that you will use across multiple applications. Put together a spreadsheet that captures the extracurricular activities you were involved in as an undergrad. Include the organization, dates involved, leadership roles held, responsibilities, time commitment and a summary of your accomplishments.
September deadlines may seem far away but there is work you can do NOW so you won’t be furiously multitasking through the summer. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Not sure where to start? Need help unpacking your experiences to date and figuring out what path you want to take? Sign up for a free 30 minute consultation with one of the Stratus experts.