aka, How to spend your time and focus your efforts in this between-round period!
We covered the important next steps for moving from Round 1 to Round 2 yesterday.
Today we’re offering some additional ideas on how to leverage your newfound-motivation to make it a permanent part of who you are. You are the actions you take over time. All long-term benefits require short-term dedication and regular effort to achieve them.
Some examples of how you can implement real change in your life right now:
When you did your brainstorming around examples of professional achievement to use in your MBA essays, did you come up with oodles and oodles of possibilities to talk about? Oh, you didn’t? Well guess what? NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO START DOING STUFF! As you are likely acutely aware today, having struggled with essay questions asking about how you demonstrated leadership and created lasting value or where you revolutionary or truly impactful, the bschools are on the lookout for candidates who show potential. That potential is always best demonstrated through examples from the past. The best way to impress your admissions reader — and in general create value in the world — is to present stories where you did something outside the norm, where you busted up the status quo and brought change. These stories also go far in your MBA admissions interviews, in showing you as someone who makes a difference. So, what we suggest is, right here, right now, look around for ways you can do this in your job today. Make a list of all the project you’re involved with. Go into some details of what those projects are going to do for the team, the client, the company. In what way can you make it faster, simpler, more efficient? What ideas do you have that can improve things for others around you? Start putting those in motion. Make yourself indispensable. Find ways to make something great — even if it’s something super small. There is ALWAYS opportunity to do this, no matter what your job, in any industry or field. Become the overachiever that you professed yourself to be in your apps.
Next, what about community service? So many of you are nervous that you don’t have an impressive outside-of-work resume of activities that will make the adcoms swoon. You feel like you’re missing something and are at a disadvantage because you’ve not been heavily involved in a nonprofit or charitable group. Well, guess what? Now you have time to dive in! Find a cause that gets you excited and sign up for it. Look on Craiglist in your community for new groups that are starting up. Go to Meetup and see what others are volunteering with and how they’re helping out in your town. There are so many ways to get involved. If you’ve felt like this was a gap in your profile then you can get started now and feel better! Giving back is always a nice way to spend your time, and hey, you may even meet people! Since everybody talks about how much they care about “the network” in their MBA apps, well, this is one way for you to build your network* today.
And…. Bonus Round!
When you thought through who to ask to write letters of recommendation, did you have any names come up that you discarded because there were relationships that went sour? Were there any past managers you worked for who you would’ve liked to get a recommendation from, but something happened at the end, maybe based on how you left the company or some long-ago disagreement, that was never resolved? FIX IT. You’re not going to do this in order to then tap this person for a recommendation later on. You’re going to do this because you’re a good person who wants to leave things better than you found them. Even if you don’t think that the reason that the relationship degraded was your fault, you still have control over how the relationship stands for eternity. If there’s any professional situation in your life where things are askew or wonky with a person you worked with, now or in the past, write them an apology letter. The classiest way to do this? Get a formal notecard, one of those plain white ones on really stiff woven linen paper with a light embossed pattern or something. Handwrite it. Just say “I’m sorry for my actions and how things ended with us. I appreciate what you taught me. Thank you.” Or more, if you’re so inclined. Sign it. Put it in the mail (you know, with a stamp). You may never hear anything back from that person, but guess what? Whenever you think of them from that moment onwards, your lines will be clear. You will have done what you could to reset things back to neutral.
Or, hey, just set a goal for yourself like reading a book before October is out!
‘Cuz when was the last time you read a book?
Or do something else that’s meaningful to you, that you’ve been meaning to do for so long.
Today is the day, Brave Supplicant!
You are primed and ready for success in this life. All you have to do is DO STUFF!
What plans will you put in motion today? In what way will you take action to change?
Tell us in the comments – we’re eager to know!!
*It’s frankly a little short-sighted to only value “the network” that is available at a high-brand snob-name business school. When you go out into the world and contribute the skills that you have been given in this life that you are living, you are undoubtedly going to increase the chance of that serendipitous encounter, of being in the right place at the right time, and making some random connection, that can take your life in a whole new direction. You never know who you might meet! Focusing on “the network” always in terms of what it can GET you is not really the most evolved way to be looking at things. The world is a system that tends to reward more based on what is given.