This week we’re discussing the real-world situation of the Brave Supplicant who tried for an MBA but did not have success getting in. This is not so much about planning a reapplicant strategy, though that isn’t at odds with this either. This is about, hmmm, things didn’t go as planned, and sitting here in middle of February 2018, what next?
We started yesterday with the advice to double down at work (hint: go back and read that one first if you missed it).
So what else can you do if you didn’t make it into an MBA program yet?
2. Re-assess your career goals.
Or assess them for the first time.
As you know, many MBA programs want you to specify career goals as part of applying, but many applicants don’t do a very good job of this, mostly due to an issue of simply not knowing. It’s obviously hard to write about post-MBA goals if you’re feeling clueless on what you want to do with your life. This is one reason why so many applicants say “consulting” since it’s simply the default answer when you don’t know what else to say. Lots of people feel stuck in life and they’re looking to the MBA to get unstuck, so the goal becomes “get into bschool” and they assume they’ll be able to figure it out then. While that’s certainly true, mostly because you will HAVE to figure it out, or else you’ll be spit out the other side with no job and in even a bigger mess than before, it’s not really the best strategy to put off all of the figuring-it-out until you get there.
This is particularly true if you’re sitting here wondering if you maybe won’t even get in. If you’re thinking that the MBA will save you from your life of doldrums and you haven’t gotten an admit yet, then that’s a pretty depressing situation to be in. So, it’s time to take charge of the situation!
Having your career goals established now can only help for the short term and the longer term too. As the infamous Yogi Berra said, “Be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, you just may get there.”
Therefore, our advice today is, do some life planning — but not for the purpose of cramming an essay together. Don’t worry about whatever you said in your original apps. Take a step back and write goals FOR YOURSELF. Not for the consumption of the adcom. But YOUR OWN goals. Like, what do you REALLY want to do.
Frequently when we complete an exercise for others to read (like writing a career goals essay for an MBA app), we get caught up in the fact that it’s for them and not us. It’s like if you’re writing in a journal for you — but then you start thinking that your partner might read it. And then you censor it, or maybe even you start writing stuff that’s not true, if you want them to be impressed or to think about you in a particular way. Don’t do that with this exercise.
Sit down with a pen and paper and figure out what you REALLY want to do.
Not the MBA part.
Just with your life.
(Pro Tip: Even though it’s designed to helping you define the backbone of the MBA pitch in your apps, our Career Goals App Accelerator can help with this too.)
Now step back again and analyze the answers you’ve developed.
On what assumptions are these ideas based?
From whom did you get the inspiration?
Did somebody tell you, “You should really do X,” because they saw a skill or a strength in your makeup that said you’d be good at it?
Or did you observe a higher-up in your field who was especially skilled at her job and you admired her and realized you could do what she does?
Or is it just a copycat thing, going along with the crowd because that’s what you always have done?
If you really want to start a company some day, have you immersed yourself in the startup culture already? (Pro Tip: You don’t have to be working at a startup to immerse yourself in that culture.) Have you created something before? Led something? Come up with an idea and executed? On what are you basing this plan?
Examine your assumptions. Make sure that they’re sound.
It’s fine to still not know what you want to do. But spending time working through some serious questions on these matters can only pay off.
Remember, you don’t need an MBA to change your life. Bschool is not the goal.
Sure it can be helpful, to go through a structured two-year cycle of learning and new experiences that’s been designed specifically for reformatting a career. Absolutely helpful. Invaluable, even.
But not the only way to get where you’re going.
And maybe you don’t yet know where you’re going.
In which case, figuring all of that out today is a fine exercise to tackle.
UPDATE: One more post in this series!
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