The Booth MBA admissions committee focuses on three key dimensions in evaluating applicants:
- Intellectual fit in terms of ability and motivation to optimize its Curriculum
- Personal and cultural fit in terms of synergy with its Community
- Professional fit in terms of past and future Career
This short series of posts will explore each of these 3 C’s and how you can integrate them into your application successfully.
Fit with Booth’s career
The list of things Booth looks for in evaluating applicants’ career plans (goals) on its website is succinct and specific. It is helpful to examine each item in that list to better understand not just how the adcom considers this dimension of your application, but also how you can best present your career plans in your application.
I’ve also included my advice on these points:
- “A track record of success.” “Track record” means consistently, throughout your career. “Success” can be defined in many ways certainly, three main ones being: (a) you perform better than your peers based on objective criteria and/or supervisors’ evaluation, (b) you advance more rapidly than average, (c) you have high impact. For some people these three elements will be relatively easy to indicate via resume, online application, essays (and hopefully recommendations if your recommenders are effective). For others—especially those in a matrix organization or in sectors/industries outside the business domain—be prepared to put some planning and effort into ensuring that your track record of success is crystal clear to the adcom readers. Why does the adcom look for this? The simple adage: Success begets success.
- “Resourcefulness.” Even though you’ve done great so far in your career, as you progress post MBA, your roles and responsibilities will only get harder. Your time pressure will increase. Business decisions will carry bigger stakes. Show the adcom that you have the personal resourcefulness—the wits, ingenuity, creativity, knowledge, guts, and interpersonal savvy all rolled into one—to succeed in environments and situations as yet unknown to you. How to do that—provide actual examples and anecdotes of times you have been resourceful previously.
- “Sense of personal direction.” This doesn’t mean you’ve never explored unfruitful paths or hit dead ends. It does mean you have a personal “true north” that is a combination of your character (what you care about, what drives you) and ability to focus on and plan for the future. In fact, having a sense of personal direction can give you the confidence TO take a risk, hit the occasional dead end. But you keep going, realign your direction. There is not one single place in the application this factor will be apparent; rather it will emerge from the application overall, in aggregate, it will be the “sum greater than the parts.” So—DO complete your application early enough to put it down, wait a few days, and review it with fresh eyes to ensure this message comes through.
- “Time management skills.” We all know brilliant people who can never quite get it together. The adcom wants to be sure you aren’t or won’t become one. They care about this because as noted above your time pressure and challenges will only increase as you progress. You can show this quality in multiple ways, by handling a demanding work travel schedule, by always finding time to maintain outside activities and initiatives, make time for family, etc. (Telling the adcom proudly that you work 80 hours/week is not, by the way, time management.) It also means being able to prioritize effectively—a very good thing to show the adcom you can do.
- “Realistic expectations for the MBA.” Understanding the parameters of your desired future jobs and roles will enable you to set realistic expectations for the MBA. Show that you understand what your goals entail, what you need to know and learn to achieve them, and how you plan to use the resources of the Booth MBA accordingly. Your career plans should be ambitious, but they must be realistic for your MBA expectations to be realistic. Saying that you want a McKinsey consulting job when you’re already 35, or you want to start a green energy company post-MBA when you have neither entrepreneurial nor energy experience would be on the unrealistic side (I’ll never say never, but…). Even the greatest professors and career services can’t help you build castles in the sky.
Chicago Booth gives you a great roadmap to creating an application that will hit the bulls-eye. Give thought to the points in its criteria page and be guided by them. I hope this series helps you in that process.
Do you want to ensure that your application demonstrates your fit with Chicago Booth? Do you need help highlighting your strengths and proving that you truly encapsulate the Chicago approach? I would be happy to work with you on your application and guide you to acceptance at Chicago Booth or any other of your top-choice MBA programs. Click here to get started.Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!