Do you feel like you’re in limbo right now? Not sure what to do with yourself, but antsy to do something?
If you’ve got interviews done with and now you’re in the waiting zone (which we hear is the hardest part of the process!) then here’s an idea: Do more school research!
“EssaySnark! I did all that already! My essays were done in September and I submitted everything long ago. I don’t need to do more research now.”
And that’s where we say, “Oh really?”
Until you have a) been accepted, and b) decided to accept the acceptance, then you’re still in shopping-mode.
What happens if more than one of these schools says “yes” to you in December?
Do you already 100% know which one you will pick?
You may think you do… But what if one comes in with a nice scholarship award, and the other one doesn’t? Does that change the equation?
Or what if you’ve not yet visited?
There are so many variables.
This is one reason why it’s a recurring theme here on the blahg. Research! It’s important!
And what if, worst case scenario, none of those apps converts for you, and you’re stuck in that awful place of thinking you didn’t have to do Round 2 applications, and suddenly, you do?
Find a student to talk to at your target school. Ask them intelligent questions about their experience. Listen to what they say. Ask why they chose this school. Ask what the experience of being there has been like. How was it different than they expected? What was the hardest part for them?
Ask them to introduce you to another student who has a similar profile to yours, or is looking at similar goals. Get on the phone with that person, too. Ask those questions again.
And oh, here’s a thought: Do your groundwork first. Know who you’re speaking with. What are their interests? Look them up on LinkedIn before wasting their time with basic questions about their background that they’ve already made available to everyone. And, see if you have anything in common. What can you offer to them? Any connections that you have, that might be valuable? (It’s rare that this would be the case, but thinking in such terms is ALWAYS recommended, in advance of any such call.)
Know why YOU are interested in this school. What are the reasons that already resonate for you? You shouldn’t be talking to them only to co-opt the reasons that THEY had for going there. Bring an opinion. Know why this school is appealing, based on what you want to do. Have the preliminaries out of the way, at least. Don’t be a dull doorknob. Engage. Have a conversation with them. Be memorable.
What clubs is this student involved with? Are those ones that you would be interested in, too? Why are you interested in them? What would you bring to table? How would you contribute?
What did you do on campus during college? What can you leverage from your past experiences or projects?
You don’t want the call to be all about you; you should be talking way less than them. But you do want to be an interesting candidate who is thoughtful and reflective, and has ideas already. Make it a two-way street. This is how they will remember you.
If you are saying in your MBA essays that “the network” is important to you, then it’s a a great time to build those networking skills!
Who knows when paths may cross again. If you’re speaking with a 2Y, then they’re going to be off on their new-life adventure before you have your campus move-in and orientation, but you’ll be part of the same community forever. And a 2Y putting in a word about an applicant? Nah, it’s unlikely to hold much sway if you only met them during your app process. But it never hurts to make friends along the way.
These interactions are how you learn if this school is right for you. Talking to people lets you discover your tribe. You’ll have many, many decisions to make from now till starting bschool next year, and gathering input like this will let you be more confident in following your gut as you do.
To circle back to those post-MBA salaries for a moment: If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’ve heard this news already. Starting salaries are hitting highs at many of the top schools. The schools don’t waste a moment in trumpeting them! We saw similar announcements coming from places like NYU Stern. And, if you were to exclude the very-high outlier salary from the Darden average, we’re betting that their placement report would’ve looked a helluvalot like Michigan Ross’s this year. So even though a school is advertising that their grads scored record-high salaries, it’s usually more a testimony to the graduate(s) themselves and what they were able to command on the market of talent — meaning, that one particular person brought a specific skillset or knowledgebase to Darden that year, and was able to scoop up a record-setting offer because of that. Darden lucked out that they admitted that individual, and that individual went on to land a great job post-Darden. But that’s not because of Darden per se. Capisce?
Bringing it back down to practicalities:
When we’re talking about your possible future, and the hard numbers of potential salaries, and where the opportunities might be for you, then maybe this post will motivate you to roll up your sleeves and do more of this work for yourself.
Getting an MBA isn’t only about the future salary you’ll earn — but obviously it’s a big part of it. Make sure you’re empowering yourself with the analysis that YOU need for YOUR goals and dreams to come true.
That’s about talking to people. It’s about looking at the data. It’s about introspection, understanding what you enjoy, what you are good at, what gets you excited. It’s about finding the school that’s the best match to that, where you can do your best work.