Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Components of your Application - IV - Career Goals

All Business Schools want to know about your career goals in some part of their application. Some might ask you to write an essay about it, others might pose this as a short answer question, some might ask for your long term and short term career goals and even how an MBA from that particular school will help you achieve them.

But before you answer this question to a Business School, or in fact to anybody else, it is important to be sure yourself what your career goals are. Remember, Business Schools expect you to be very clear about why you want to get an MBA degree, why from that particular school and how the decision, at this stage of your career, will help you achieve the immediate post-MBA goals you have set for yourelf, and even how achieveing your immediate post-MBA goal is part of a larger plan to achieve your long term career goals.

Sounds daunting? Not sure of what kind of career you want to pursue?And how an MBA (from any particular school) will get you there? Then why the decision to do an MBA? Just because your friends are doing it? Well that will just not do.

So even before you contemplate applying to B schools, you need to get your career goals exercise done. Ideally you should be able to clearly describe to the Ad Comm:
  • What is your current state - this is done through your resume, essays, recos, etc.
  • What are your immediate post-MBA goals - what kind of career do you wish to pursue right after you complete the MBA course.
  • Medium and long term goals - what do you plan to be doing in say 5 years/10 years down the line.
And finally - you should have a ready GAP ANALYSIS between your current state and your long term goals. Which means, you should know what you currently lack in terms of knowledge and skills to get to your post-MBA objectives.

This GAP in skills and knowledge is what you should aspire to fill from the MBA program.

Further - if you can also show how a particular school's individual strengths by way of their curriculum, faculty, known areas of excellence, etc, will help you fill these gaps, then you have absolutely hit the nail on the head.

But, as I have heard from many a candidate, life is so uncertain. "How can I be totally sure of what I want to do?" "What if I change my mind while I am studying for my MBA over next 2 years?" Well friends, the answer is simple.

The Ad Comm does want you to show a certain clarity of vision when it comes to your career goals and reasons for getting an MBA degree. They also like to know that you researched these schools before applying and that you will endeavor to use their individual strengths to further your goals. BUT, and this is important, they don't expect your goals and plans to be cast in stone. It is okay if your change your plans mid-way, take up a different career post-MBA compared to what you planned to pursue when applying. After all, an MBA is also about expanding your horizons.

So get rid off that mental block. Think freely. Work out the best career plan for yourself - one which excites you, one which you would pursue with passion, energy and joy :) Work out how you can get there. Be prepared to state with clarity and conviction, about the skills and experience you already have, which will help you on your way. And clearly show what new skills and experiences you need to add in order to get where you want to. And that will surely bring out clearly what you hope to gain from the MBA program and how you will use it.

And by doing this, you will see that you answer this question extremely well, not only to the Ad Comm, but also, and most importantly, to yourself.

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