We’re not exactly advocating this as an actual strategy for selecting your MBA programs to target. But it’s something to consider! It’s certainly more practical and intelligent (yes we said it) than using rankings as the priority tool to choose where to apply. If a top MBA program has a special scholarship fund earmarked only…
If you’re trying to break into VC, mostly we would discourage you. There’s just not that many post-MBA jobs available, and most people who claim that that’s what they want to do after bschool have stars in their eyes and unrealistic expectations. Many of them don’t even know what’s involved. We’ve tried to shed some…
We get the lament all the time: “There’s too many guys like me applying.” Here was our first reaction to this stated quite some awhile ago (worth reading still). We’ll offer some more today. The best advice we can give you is, don’t worry about it. What we mean by that is, don’t worry about…
This is a follow-on to some previous GRE vs GMAT posts. In case you missed those: GMAT vs GRE strategy questions: Which to take for an MBA? “I took the GMAT. If I take the GRE now, do I still have to submit the GMAT score in my MBA app?” This question isn’t about admissions…
This is the second chunk of our recent plea for help and EssaySnark’s reaction to a Brave Supplicant’s worries about trying to transition from engineering to finance: My question is: I really have to get this MBA to enhance my career growth now. With my [specialty deleted] background, what is the most advisable path for…
Continuing the awesomeness that is our series from the trenches – Advice From Those Who’ve Gone Before – we now have a second post from the 6-month-out MBA grad who started us off with Making the Most Out of Business School.
What Kind of Life Do You Want?
“Relax and rest up before school starts,” our student life director warned us at welcome weekend. “Once it starts, it’s nonstop for two years.” At the time, I thought it was an odd thing to say to folks transitioning FROM high-stress jobs. I would come to realize how right he was.
Business school is like drinking from a firehose. Unless you are very focused in your approach, close-minded against trying new things, very good at prioritizing tasks, or all of the above, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of events happening at the same time or things competing to demand your attention at any given moment. It is pedal to the metal for two straight years. There is really no break in the full calendar year. Even in your time away from school there will be programmed events. Your schedule will become jam-packed with classes, socials, recruiting events, trips to other cities or countries, workshops, club activities…you get the idea.
With all these going on constantly in the background, your ability to manage your schedule and carve out free time becomes very valuable. Time is the most valuable resource you have at business school. It is easy to get swept up in the tidal wave and go along with the current without thinking for yourself, coming out of business school feeling like you didn’t make the most of it, or ending up in a job that you weren’t so excited about to begin with.
Take the time before school and during school to think strategically.
Take some time off before school starts. Travel, relax, and start thinking about how to make business school work for you in achieving your goals. Talk to alumni and current students and find out what they are excited about and their take on maximizing their time at business school. I wish I had done more of this. Alumni in general are busy but glad to make the time to chat.
Take the time to think before school starts because once school kicks off, your free time will be at a premium. Think about your vision and your goals. Write down your goals before business school starts and check in with yourself periodically to see if you are working toward or away from your goals. It’s OK if your goals change.
Thinking and planning ahead will allow you to develop a focus or a hypothesis on what you are interested in and what you want to try out. Make the time to talk to people and gather as many data point as you can. Until you actually try something out yourself, you just never know if you will truly like it or not. However, talking to many people with differing perspectives will help inform your decision.
(To Be Continued…)
This one went a little long so we’re going to break it here – though we will mention before we go that we have an Admitted Student’s Guide to Getting In which also covers some very important and practical post-admit / pre-MBA strategies, for those who are in the happy position of getting ready to go to bschool in the future.
Please come back for the second part of this awesome post from the BSer Who Went Before.
This BSer asked for a freebie review of this essay last year – and we didn’t do it for him then. One reason was that he emailed it in to the team, when we have explicit instructions on the site for how to submit requests for review. An inability to follow directions does not endear…
Bschools’ admissions essays are designed to solicit information about you, the candidate. They’re also strong signaling devices about the school. When a school like UC-Berkeley Haas asks you to keep in mind their four Defining Principles when you craft your answers, that gives you a clear indication of what’s important to them and what they’ll be looking for in what you write in response.
That last part is where the complication comes in. Everybody knows that getting into bschool is, to some extent a game. “What does the adcom want to hear? How should I tailor my essays to showcase that to them?” That’s totally not what the adcom wants you to do, but it’s unavoidable. If you write something that’s too off base and inappropriate for the context, well, it’s unlikely to work out in your favor.
So everybody is trying to second-guess the meaning of the adcom’s words. No problem, some degree of that can be useful. After all, you’re figuring out what it means to get into bschool – which means you’re figuring out what it means to be a leader. ‘Cuz all of them are looking for leaders.
A problem comes into the equation when the applicant tries too hard to be what they think the school wants. If a school is talking all over tarnation that they care about culture…
Why would a bus school ever narrow its appeal to prospective students by focusing on culture? Same reason other great institutions do it.
— Rich Lyons (@richlyons) March 5, 2014
… well, culture is what people are going to talk about in their essays. (Even if they don’t want to.)
And there’s a pretty significant disconnect for someone who says they want to go to School X because of the culture – and then in the next breath says that they want to go to work at a bulge-bracket i-bank.
The big Wall Street firms definitely have a “culture” – but it is not one that in any small respect or remote corner of the universe even minutely resembles the culture that a school like Haas puts such a focus on.
- Haas = small community, collaborative, individual contribution, respect
- Wall St = soul-crushing hours, cogs in a wheel, politics and power, respect?
If you want to go to Haas for their “culture”, are you SURE you also want to go into Wall Street finance?
Certainly there’s many many companies in the world of finance who buck the trend and offer a different experience for new hires. But they’re a rarity. Maybe that will change over time. We know that Wall Street is working to change their “culture” – the big banks have slowly started to implement more humane policies like a prohibition on working straight through every weekend (you’re required to take a few hours off now – but it’s not actually enforced).
There’s also lots of schools besides Haas that are emphasizing this “culture” thing as part of their pitch. We think that some of them even believe in it. (Yeah, a little jaded, we are.) These schools all send significant chunks of their graduating classes to Wall Street. The finance track, while shrinking in popularity in recent years, is still a viable path through bschool and out into the world.
The point of this post is to offer up a reality check. If you’re thinking about transitioning into finance – but you don’t really know what it’s about, it just sounds glamorous and opportunity-rich (emphasis on the rich) – and if you’re looking at the knot of bschool essays and what you’re “supposed” to say – and if you latch onto this “culture” thing that so many schools care about…
Well, you might want to investigate the whole enchilada a tiny bit more directly.
We’re not saying that some future i-banker automatically cannot ever care about culture.
We are saying that there’s an obvious disconnect in this equation when someone says that they do as a means to get into bschool, while simultaneously professes their enthusiasm for Wall Street as their intended destiny.
If you find yourself seeking to tell the adcom what they want to hear, rather than focusing on exploring genuine answers to the questions that they’re asking, then we’re suggesting you may want to do a little more self-exploration along the way in this process. Make sure you know what you’re getting into, oh starry-eyed BSer.
Just for the record: We see plenty of people getting into schools like Haas and Ross and other schools whose names don’t rhyme, by talking about the “culture” and also pitching a finance industry goal. We’re just inviting you to investigate your own priorities and understand what this whole kit and kaboodle you’re mapping out for yourself is really truly going to be like. Like, living it.
That phrase always makes us stop; we can’t help but read it as “vulture capitalist.” Just a weird trick our mind plays on us. The VCs we know are not like that (generally speaking). Maybe we should’ve titled this post, “So you wanna be a VC?” But we couldn’t do that. Because that tone of…
We talked recently about how, and whether, the CFA affects your chances of getting into a good MBA program. There’s one small concern that we sometimes have when we see the CFA on the resume. For a school that gets a gazillion application from finance dudes (and a smattering from chicks – let’s face it,…