I have been responding for a few months to questions on the PaGalGuy forum for aspiring MBA applicants from India, and I received a very interesting question recently. Siddharth is brutally honest and admits that he has no interest in community service – certainly not the hypocritical community service that is simply executed to earn admission to a top MBA program. As Siddharth phrased it:
I would like to share my advice to Siddharth since I suspect there are many MBA aspirants who experience the same reticence to get involved.
The top global business programs believe that business leaders are and should be shaping tomorrow’s world. For this reason, they like to see a history of that kind of community influence in their applicants. If you really aren’t interested in serving the community in any way, then you do not share these schools’ vision.
My suggestion is for you to find something that you do care about. If it is just profits, then you may want to just pursue the Master of Science in Finance – these programs are much more focused on selecting students with exceptionally analytical minds and abilities, not necessarily community-minded individuals.
If you are able to identify some part of the world – politics, education, poverty, the disabled, public health, building community among young professionals, etc. – about which you do feel passionate, then dive into that area and make a difference. The key isn’t just to add some extracurricular effort to your resume; the key is to demonstrate that you are passionate and able to lead people to share that enthusiasm and make an impact.
Finally, you may also be able to demonstrate at least some of the non-work leadership that the top business schools are seeking by demonstrating leadership in a sports team. While it isn’t changing the world, it is non-work leadership, and that is sometimes enough to show that you possess the passion they are seeking.