You should never view your goals as an afterthought when it comes to your MBA application. Admissions members view MBA goals as lead-role performers, so you certainly shouldn’t push them to a supporting role as you prepare to apply to MBA programs.
What is an MBA Goal?
Your goal should focus on something you want to achieve or do (and not just something you’re interested in studying). For the sake of defining your MBA goal, be sure that you relate your desired achievements or actions to a specific function within a specific industry. You may need to call into play certain external factors such as geography, and certainly you need to take into account your personal experience, talents, passions, and skills; but what you should not do is consider TV personalities (I want to be like X character), short-lived fads, or the desires of your parents/friends/significant other. Your goals also shouldn’t be completely money-driven.
This is not to say that you can’t change careers – in fact, about 50% of MBA students are career changers, so as long as you present your goals in a credible, realistic way (connecting your experience, talents, passions, and skills to a future in a new industry), then there’s no reason to be shy about your aspirations in a new field.
Defining Your MBA Goal
To define your MBA goal, first look inward and address each of these three points:
1. Consider what you enjoy and in what areas you excel.
Are you a people person or would you rather work behind the scenes? If you’ve been selling lemonade since you were six, your goal may be to be the top salesperson in a Fortune 500 company. Do you have an interest in medicine as well as business? Working in the biomedical field may be just the thing for you. Think about what will make you excited in five or ten years.
2. Explore lessons learned from your off-the-job achievements to learn more about your professional life.
What do you love to do in your free time? Do you enjoy travel? Is there a special organization that you volunteer for? Examine what you take away from these experiences. Look at contributions you’ve made to that organization. Have you found new ways to fundraise for them, or implemented better ways to keep records? Take some time to think about what you’re passionate about. Your MBA goal can be found there.
3. Clarify and mine your interests and past experiences.
You’ve explored what you enjoy and where you excel. You’ve looked at where you spend your free time and what you’re passionate about. Use this information and come up with your MBA goal. It may be what you’ve thought all along, or it may be something totally new. Maybe the corporate position you always thought you wanted isn’t what you want after all.
Now look outward and consider these three items:
1. Examine professional paths that will take advantage of your strengths and give you more of what you find satisfying.
Explore which positions will help fulfill you professionally as well as personally. You will excel much easier in a job that fulfills you. No one wants to look back in 10 or 15 years and realize that they hated their professional life. Now is the time to crystalize your goal and look toward a successful, satisfying future.
2. Only consider MBA programs that support your career goals and provide an exciting, compelling educational environment for you.
You’ll be making a commitment of 1-2 years, and a significant amount of money, to get your MBA. Be sure the place you’ll be spending this time and money is the place that will give you the educational background for the career that you want, but also will be a place you want to be. If you’re a “city” person, a more rural environment isn’t the place for you. Do you do better in a group setting, or are you an independent learner? These are just a few of the questions you should answer when looking at MBA programs. The educational aspect is important, but you will learn much more in an environment where you feel comfortable.
3. Establish specific short-term and long-term goals you want to achieve during your education and in your post-MBA years.
You should think in terms of short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals. Your short-term goal could be completing your MBA in the next two years. When establishing your intermediate and long-term goals you should consider what your ideal position would be, and in what industry you see yourself. These goals are not etched in stone, and can change as you transition from one stage to the next. Try to be specific in terms of job titles and companies you would like to work for.
What’s Your Goal?
A strong, clear MBA goal should guide your admissions research and your choice of target schools. Expressing your goals clearly in your essays will help show adcoms why you belong in their programs. Defining your goal is an important first step in the MBA admissions process, and we can help.
Check out our MBA admissions consulting services and work one-on-one with an advisor who will help you define your career goals and apply successfully to your top-choice program.