You’ll be applying to b-school this fall, aiming for the Round 1 deadlines. You might also be working full-time, juggling various life responsibilities and perhaps even trying to hike up your GMAT score. Although adding another task to your plate might feel daunting, there’s one question you want – nay, need! – to spend some time on and answer early. This question requires reflection: WHY do you want to go to b-school? Is it to make a career pivot? Gain experience in a new country? Expand your network? Acquire a new skill set? Develop your leadership capabilities? The answer will probably involve a combination of things that will ultimately help you achieve your professional goals. Answering this “why” question early will help you piece together many application puzzle pieces and connect those all-important dots from past and present (experience) to future (MBA and career).
Here’s what you need to do to identify and write about your MBA goals.
Pre-application to-do: Define your goals!
The first thing you need to do is start defining your MBA goals. The more introspection you do before you write your goals essay, the faster and smoother the actual writing of the essay will be later on.
To begin, jot down possible specific roles and industries that you plan to target.
The challenge here is to think of goals that go beyond the obvious (or at least to think of an original way of expressing what might be a common goal within the applicant pool). For example, “I want to go into marketing” won’t cut it on its own, but if marketing is a passion of yours and your ultimate goal, there are other ways to frame it without falling into the boring, generic trap, mainly through the use of details. You want to think about how your goals align with your experiences and how those experiences have not only prepared you for your goals but also helped you define them. So, how do you go beyond the obvious?
Writing about your goals
Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing to write a compelling, extraordinary MBA goals essay.
1. Distinguish between short-term and long-term goals.
At each of these stages, what would your ideal position be? At what type of company? And in what industry? These positions, companies, and industries could change as you transition from the short term to the long term, but you should be able to present a common thread between the two. Keep in mind that your short-term objective should serve as a stepping-stone to your long-term vision. Refer to specific job titles and companies to further illustrate how much you’ve thought about your future.
2. Continue to identify the details of the short and long term, including your intermediate post-MBA aims, by thinking about what specific goals you’d like to accomplish during each phase.
Don’t talk merely about what you want to get out of an experience but also about the impact you want to have on the people you encounter and the industry during that time. B-schools are looking for contributors, for individuals who want to make a positive impact in their respective fields. The details that surround your MBA goals, such as your motivation for making a particular impact, are what will make your goals essay stand out from those of all the other future marketers in the stack. Details make your essay interesting, credible, and individualized.
3. Do your research so that your goals are realistic.
Adcoms want to see ambition, but that ambition should be steeped in reality. Look up hiring trends, services, organizations, market status, products, competitive concerns, and so on at your desired companies. Now is the time to do all this research!
4. Become familiar with the challenges of your chosen industry.
Have any current events affected your industry? What about possible future trends? Consider the challenges that lie ahead, the role that you might play, and how you would navigate that environment.
5. Be prepared to discuss why your target positions/industry appeal to you.
Most essay questions won’t ask specifically about your motivations for pursuing your particular goals, but you should nevertheless keep your motivations in mind while you write. This will help you present a more engaging story with a stronger message, which will further help your essay stand out.
Introspection is key
Following these steps during the prewriting stage of your goals essay will help you formulate a clear, compelling, and original portrayal of what your goals are. It will also make actually writing the essay more quick and effortless. Use your time wisely and pace yourself – your applications will be due before you know it!
Jamie Wright has more than eight years of recruitment and admissions experience at London Business School (LBS) and is the former admissions director for Early Career Programmes at LBS. Originally from the United States, Jamie is now based in London. Want Jamie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch with Jamie Wright.