The MBA application doesn’t end with the GMAT. After students are successful with the test, the process has just begun. Even beyond business school admissions--choosing schools, writing essays, rounding up recommendations, and getting into their dream programs--they have a lot of work to do before starting their programs.
Choosing the right school, of course, involves multiple variables to the MBA hopeful: location, subject area of expertise, tuition, and most importantly, prospects for job placement after school.
The most important thing to do before going to business school is a critical input to this last variable. Namely, students should take off time to decide what they want to do after business school, before going to business school.
To many MBA applicants, this recommendation runs counter to the purpose of business school. Having spent several years in a certain industry, they are eager to spend the first year of the MBA program determining where their passions lie. However much as this may have been the model in prior years, lower employment capacity in bread-and-butter MBA hiring industries such as investment banking have made getting a job increasingly competitive. This fact applies even for the best MBA programs.
Having seen many people go through the hiring process, I have found that the students who place into the best jobs are often the ones who have chosen their goals for employment early in the process. Firms begin recruiting on campus within the first few weeks of the semester, and many of the most desirable ones – management consulting firms and Fortune 500 companies alike – choose their summer interns and full-time hires within the first two months of school.
The reality is that business school students don’t have the luxury of time in figuring out what they want to do. Furthermore, each industry has its idiosyncratic methods of choosing their employees – the case interview, for example, is the standard method for hiring consultants. This method is unlike any other industry’s standard for interviewing, and takes weeks to perfect.
Take the time to reflect on your goals before starting your MBA.
The endless stream of social activities, clubs, and companies will inundate your calendar the first few months of school. Don’t let these things distract you from the reason you are investing so much time and money into your MBA – to ramp up your career, starting with the first job out of school.