It may seem like a contradiction, but an effective EMBA application strategy will simultaneously make you stand out as an applicant and show how you fit with the program in question.
If you’re a mid-level manager at a global IT company, or an entrepreneur whose enterprise is on the verge of growing beyond your capacity to manage with ingenuity alone, you can safely assume that there will be many other applicants with your broad profile. In fact, most applicants will be in a group that is reasonably well represented. If the school will only accept 30% of these groups of applicants, you want to make sure you’re in that 30%. You have to make yourself stand out – within that professional group. This “stand out” factor should be connected to your goals in some way for a coherent overall message.
Here is an example. You’re a division marketing manager in a global consumer products corporation. Your stand-out factor is creating and integrating into the marketing process a rigorous analytic tool that is now used across domains, allowing meaningful comparison for the first time, and that is also “user friendly” for less quantitatively inclined product marketing managers. Your demonstration of combined creativity and analytic rigor will be a great platform for your goal to become a senior manager in business development.
For some applicants, such as the hypothetical division marketing manager above, fitting in will happen naturally. If you’ve had less business exposure or are in an uncommon industry or role – perhaps you’re a doctor taking on a heavier management role in a hospital or a lawyer doing likewise at a law firm – you must incorporate “fit” more forcefully into your strategy. “Fit” will mean presenting a business perspective and framework. On the other hand, more naturally than the business managers and entrepreneurs, you will stand out. Take advantage of that stand-out quality in your essays, by giving intriguing views of your industry through your examples and anecdotes.
Your goals are part of the fit-in, stand-out message. You should carry your distinctive perspective through in your goals discussion. As the marketing manager above, you’d provide vivid examples of how these qualities will benefit you as a leader of business development.
Summary: Understand how you fit in and how you stand out, and where you might need to work to demonstrate fit or distinction in your application strategy.
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