From time to time, the BSers Who Went Before will resurface on this here blahg and offer some words of wisdom to all ye struggling for the Grand Admit. Here is an awesome post from one of them who’s actually now since GRADUATED! It’s official, like with the actual MBA and stuff! (We got this a loooooong time ago and it only now felt like the right moment to post.)
Round 1 admits: Congrats, you got in!
Round 2 applicants: Congrats, you’re down with apps (hopefully anyway)!
The universal question regardless of what round you applied in is: Now what?
I’ll be blunt. Applying to business school is a crappy process, but going to business school is kinda awesome. There are, however, definitely things you should be aware of before stepping on campus next fall and there are things you can be doing NOW to prepare.
Year 1: What are your short-term MBA goals?
Remember writing that essay? Well, now is where the rubber meets the road. If you’re one of those people who lied through his or her teeth on the essay to craft a believable story, I’m not here to judge you. What I will tell you though, is that recruiting starts EARLY (for most industries) and the sooner you figure out what you want to do with your post-MBA life the easier your B-school life will be. The important thing to understand is that while business school is advertised as a place where you can learn and explore, you don’t have all the time in the world, and some things such as recruiting for consulting and investment banking at the same time isn’t realistic. For starters, both are time consuming processes, and prepping for cases won’t help you in the IB technical interviews and vice versa, so what will happen is you’ll probably be mediocre in both and lose out to your classmates who are focusing in one area. You don’t want that. Yes, I’ve seen people recruit for consulting and marketing at the same time, then focus on marketing late after they’ve decided. This can work because generally speaking marketing interview preparation is much less intense than banking or consulting, but you’ll still have to make up ground in terms of ass-kissing networking with companies if you’ve missed out on that while dabbling in consulting.[Side note: There’s a big difference between on-campus and off-campus recruiting. Generally speaking, on-campus recruiting is spoon-fed to you and if you make sure you check all the boxes, you’re in good shape. Off-campus recruiting is like Thunderdome. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but understand it takes a lot of initiative and there’s a lot of time put in for something that might not even get your resume looked at. There’s no defined timeline like on-campus recruiting. When I was applying to school my attitude was “These companies should have alumni from any of the top 20 schools, so if they don’t recruit on campus, I should be able to network my way in.” That’s cute. The reality is, companies that recruit on campus build a strong alumni base that’s the result of years of a collaborative relationship, while if a company doesn’t come to your campus, you’re basically hoping someone from your school switched jobs to that company later in his/her career or that some rando from your school was able to get a job there right out of school so you have someone to contact. This might be an important consideration when it comes to choosing a school.]
Moral of the story: if you haven’t done so already, figure out what you want to recruit for when B-school starts. For real. I’m not screwing around.
Speaking of time, not succumbing to FOMO (if you don’t know what this is, Google it) is probably the best thing you can do during your first year of school (well, besides landing a sweet internship). You only have 24-hours a day, and the sooner you realize that you can’t do everything 100% and you can’t be in two places at once, you’ll be much better off. B-school is a balancing act between the trifecta of academics – recruiting – social. If you came to b-school with a significant other, your social experience along with your priorities are going to be different than the single guy trying to relive his fraternity glory days (“When I was in Kappa Sig, I won a beer pong tournament…” Cool story, bro. Tell it again). It’s important you understand that because business school is not one-size-fits all. My best advice is to carve out time to do things you enjoy because the first year will be chaotic and will swallow all of your time if you allow it to. Yes, networking events are important. No you shouldn’t blow off that accounting midterm. Yes, you should get to know your classmates. But you know what? If you want to destroy twelve-year-olds in Call of Duty instead of going to the same bar for the ump-tenth time this semester, go for it. Be you.
2nd year students will be a tremendous resource throughout your first year, but remember to take what they say with a grain of salt. I say this because if you ask enough people for advice you’re bound to get conflicting opinions. It’s YOUR job to figure out what’s useful advice and what won’t apply to you (for example: If you’re a career changer, the advice a guy from finance going into finance told you about how he didn’t network that much may not apply to you). Trust your judgment. No one can hand you this answer.
Thanks, Former BSer! (If you’re still around! UPDATE: OH LOOK YES YOU ARE!!) For all you current BSers, we’ll finish up with what to expect in Year 2 soon!