As an IT consultant, how do you know equity research is the right career for you? How do you know you can handle the hours, the more Darwinian industry and company culture, the stress of having a pivotal impact on huge investment decisions?
If you are an MBA applicant pursuing a career change, then you will have an extra challenge: you will need to demonstrate that you understand the new industry and/or function in practical terms. After all, you may genuinely be fascinated by equity research and even have much to contribute to the field but still not fit in with that industry’s culture. You must go beyond expressing sincere interest, and make a logical case for your career goals. You must show that you understand your chosen industry or function “from the inside.” Failure to do so will undermine the credibility of your goals.
The goals essay (or in some applications, a shorter goals statement in the online form) is the heart of that effort. You’ll need to explain how you plan to achieve your goals – the actual steps you will take.
Here are seven pointers for using your goals essay or statement to show that you know exactly what you are doing in making the decision to change career direction. Note that all applications differ, and may offer more or less opportunity to implement these tips.
1. Show the natural progression and evolution of your change in career.
To make the change seem as natural as the sunrise, tell the “story” of your motivation and evolving understanding of the field or function. For example, if you are an IT consultant seeking to become an investment research analyst, then you can talk about how interacting with people in different functions at client companies helped you discover how intrigued you were by the financial factors shaping not just IT decisions but overall strategy development. Describe your developing awareness and interest, detailing some of the more illuminating interactions.
2. Show that you understand the day-to-day reality of your desired industry or function.
Interactions with people such as those noted above are one way. You may also do informational interviews, audit courses, and read industry publications. Clarify in your essay your proactive efforts to understand the field and the insights you gain from these efforts.
3. Openly address challenges and obstacles you expect to face as a newcomer to the field, and how you plan to handle them.
This further demonstrates knowledge of the field or function and also your maturity and objectivity. It also enhances the adcom’s confidence that you can indeed make this change.
4. Demonstrate that you have the skills to make this change.
No doubt your current work has honed skills and provided knowledge that will be beneficial in your future career. For example, as an IT consultant, you may have developed communication skills in obtaining information from the client, which will help you draw information from company management as an equity analyst. In addition, your quantitative skills from engineering will apply. Presenting concrete examples of your skills and knowledge applicable to your chosen field underscores both your preparation for the role and understanding of its demands.
5. Highlight how your background is an asset.
You can likely argue that your “different” background will enable you to make a greater contribution in your new role. The IT consultant brings a deep understanding of real-world technology deployment that will facilitate analysis of a company’s true value and potential for continued success. Delineate such benefits, ideally supported by a concrete example or two.
6. Get the adcom “fired up” about your plans by articulating a vision for your goal.
This means clarifying something you want to accomplish or contribute during your career, and the impact you hope to have. For the IT consultant, it could be, “integrating deep technology know-how into the evaluation of all companies.”
7. Solidify your message by effectively using the “why this school” part of the essay question.
Ideally, your MBA studies will serve as a bridge to take you from where you are to where you want to be. Identify key learning needs for your new career, which will further strengthen the impression that you understand its realities and demands. Describe through specific details how the program under discussion will become that bridge.
As a career changer, you face certain obstacles in your MBA strategy and application. On the other hand, you likely have an interesting story to tell about your goals. Use that story to make your plans seem like the most inevitable, natural thing in the world.
View our MBA Admissions Services to learn how we can help you reflect on your experiences, select the anecdotes that best portray your singular self, and weave them into compelling essays that grab admissions committees’ attention, ultimately helping you gain admission to the best MBA program for you and making that career change.
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• From Wall St to Wharton, While Starting Wall Street Oasis, a podcast episode
• 3 Tips for Highlighting Your Strengths in Your Application Essays