Harvard will be announcing its first wave of interview invitations this week and other schools have already beat them to it with some invites, so many of you Round 2 BSers are moving into interview prep mode. Back in October we offered a nugget on the best way to prepare for the HBS interview. (Pro Tip: If you’ve got active Rd 2 apps and you’re new to the blahg, then be sure you’ve scrolled back through the all the posts we laid out in September through November for Rd 1 BSers, to catch up on the suggestions offered earlier this season.)
Today’s post will be so obvious to some of you that you will scoff. If you’re already doing this, then it’s hard to imagine how anybody could not be.
However we come across many many BSers who are not doing this, and looking back over the years in the ‘Snark’s own life, we can recall being the same.
Today’s suggestion is to simply start paying (more) attention to the events in the world around you.
For example, can you name:
- What level the Dow closed at last week?
- What important political event will begin on February 1 in the U.S.?
- Who is the current Prime Minister of Britain?
- Who is the current Prime Minister of India?
- Who is Angela Merkel?
- Who is Li Keqiang?
- Bonus: Who is Justin Trudeau?
- Bonus: What is the ‘Brexit’?
Some careers require this of people. If you work in finance, then a good part of your day-to-day is understanding where things are at economically in whatever sector and geography you’re focusing on. For you, then this is going to come across as partially ridiculous, perhaps. How can you do your job without paying attention to what’s going on?
But in many other jobs, you can go about your day being blissfully unaware of, like, everything. You can get totally focused in on your own life and work and family and just forget to raise your head up and take a look at how things are going elsewhere. A big part of the bschool experience for many people is learning to take other perspectives into account, and a good start for that – for school, and for life in general – is to pay attention to what’s happening outside of the three square blocks where you live and work.
One way to make it fun of course is to test yourself with a little quiz like that one. A few publications offer such quizzes on the news and world events, including these that we know of:
If you know of any others, please tell us about them in the comments below!
Staying on top of what’s happening in the world is part of being a grown-up, in the ‘Snark’s opinion. (Kind of like voting.) If you’re not currently interested in politics then we totally understand how this could seem like an utterly boring and irrelevant assignment – why pay attention to the news? Politicians are all idiots. Yeah, we tend to agree! But, these things definitely matter when it comes to each one of us. The state of your local economy certainly affects you. And the state of your regional economy is going to be affected by other things that are happening elsewhere in the world (recent case in point: China). Who gets elected into office in some other country can even affect the business climate in your own, depending on trade relationships, etc. So this stuff matters.
Taking a quick pulse of current events by scanning headlines every day and being able to hold a reasonable conversation around the latest news and not just the sports scores is a smart thing as part of your effort to stay relevant and add value. It can help you be more astute in meetings with, say, a supplier who’s worried about increasing inventory levels, or with your manager who seems preoccupied that maybe there will be layoffs heading your way. World events can play a big part in corporate decisions to expand and seek out new opportunities, vs looking at cutbacks and being more conservative in decisions. These things matter. Being informed about them will let you add more value in meetings and help you start getting into the mode of management.
And, yeah, this stuff might even serve you well in an interview for a top MBA program.
- About 16,100
- Iowa Caucus, which is the first electoral event of the primary season
- David Cameron
- Narendra Modi
- Chancellor of Germany
- Premier of China
- Prime Minister of Canada
- Shorthand term for Britain withdrawing from the EU which is being debated (similar to ‘Grexit’ which was what they called it when Greece was at risk of being kicked out or withdrawing) UPDATE SUMMER 2016: Of course you know what Brexit is NOW, it made world news and shook financial markets when it happened. When this post was written in January 2016 it was a much less commonly heard term.
If you’re in the mood for another quiz, here’s one testing basic science knowledge which is apparently not “basic” given how the results are cited.