Top MBA programs are looking for candidates who’ve got their heads on straight and have a clear idea of how a business degree will help shape their futures. It’s for this reason that the MBA goals essay is such an important element in the b-school application.
So what do you do if you don’t know what your post-MBA goals are? What should you do if, say, you are a career changer and know you want to acquire the skills that a business program will provide, but aren’t exactly sure which career direction you want to take post-graduation? And finally, is it worth it to spend time exploring your post-MBA options (trying out different jobs or shadowing people in different professions) so that you can apply with a confident MBA goal, or is it better to try and jump right into a program, even if your goals are undefined?
Whoa. You have a lot of questions!
Here are the answers: Yes, your post-MBA goals should be a guiding light in the application process, certainly the school selection part of it. And it’s not only worthwhile to spend time determining a post-MBA direction, it’s mandatory. You need to know why you want to devote time and money to an MBA before you apply. Undefined goals could transform your MBA investment into a painfully large expense.
Consider the following 4 tips to help you sort through the no-goal conundrum:
1. Think about what you like and dislike in your current and past jobs. Make a list of what you would like more of and what you would like less of.
2. Talk to people in positions you find attractive. Talk also to those who work in fields different from your own. Take friends out for coffee and conduct informal interviews or email a list of questions to people you know who have jobs that interest you.
3. Consider hiring a career counselor. (We can send a few names your way if you contact us – just mention that you read this post so we know how you got to us.)
4. Once you have narrowed down the number of possible goals or have some direction, look at the career listings of the larger employers in those areas. Read a few profiles of younger employees hired for those jobs, and see if you can network your way into talking to someone in the positions you find attractive.
In short, having no direction at all will make adcoms wonder why you’re putting the time, effort, and money into pursuing an MBA. They will also be very concerned that you will have difficulty finding an internship and ultimately a full-time position when you arrive on campus, floundering or mystified as to what you want to do. They don’t expect your goals to be carved in stone and they know you may develop new goals, but flexible is not the same as clueless. They want the former, not the latter.