OK cool! That’s a noble inclination.
And you think being a Product Manager at Facebook will let you do that?
[letting that sink in]
Nothing wrong with being a Product Manager at Facebook. However, putting that career goal in the same essay with “I want to make a difference” creates some cognitive dissonance for this here ‘Snark.
How about some of these ideas?
Battery Technology – to get all of us off of fossil fuels
Urban Mining – the term used for the process of recycling rare metals out of discarded electronics
Food Supply – focusing on farming technology particularly in preparation for drought conditions that are predicted in many parts of the world
Infrastructure – especially remediation for flood zones and critical highways
Oh hey. Several of these things seem related to public health – and there’s a degree for that! The Master’s in Public Health offered at places like Columbia and UC Berkeley is for tackling these big problems. Columbia’s interdisciplinary Earth Institute showcases a bunch of different master’s programs related to sustainability and development in light of these changes.
Or look! You could go into the policy side by pursuing a MPP or MPA at a place like Harvard Kennedy School or at Woodrow Wilson at Princeton.
There’s lots more ways than an MBA to get real change happening in the world.
The MBA is obviously a great choice too, and it’s very possible to pursue an MBA with a noble cause in mind.
Maybe you want to work at the World Bank, or Gates Foundation, or World Health Organization. There are plenty of opportunities, and considerable need all around the world. You can apply your skills and your smarts to help others in many different ways.
Here’s a quick example of an Army vet who went to Columbia and is now helping other vets run for office.
The MBA can take you in all kinds of directions.
Just don’t make stuff up for the purpose of applying. If you’ve got a noble purpose in mind for how you want to devote the next phase of your career, and you’re looking for an MBA (or other graduate program) to make that happen, make sure to pitch it effectively.
There’s a reason that adcoms are skeptical of such goals.
It’s challenging for anyone to pitch a “change the world” goal — especially those where there hasn’t been such a focus in the past.
You’ll need a platform to build off of, if you’re going to make a convincing argument to be headed in such a different direction from everything you’ve done before. You need to show continuity in some way, shape or form. It can’t be a clean break from all that you’ve done in the past and still be believable.
(Shameless plug: This is where our Career Goals App Accelerator can help!)
So today’s post is just a reminder: A common theme among Millennials everywhere is that they want to make a difference.
A common theme among bschools everywhere is that they’re marketing the “make a difference” theme.
Saying you want to make a difference is not the same as SHOWING how you’ve made a difference in the past, or how this newfound interest in [insert trendy social cause here] is a legit and viable goal, that will be realistic for you to pull off.
This is where the pitch needs to come in.
The exercise of coming up with the goals you’re presenting in your essays is not about staring out the window with a finger alight on your lips, eyes unfocused on the distance, until you think of some incredible-sounding idea that will surely impress a stranger when you claim that that’s what you want to do.
If you REALLY want to make a difference, then first examine your skills and your strengths and what you like to do. And then examine what matters to you, and where the world needs help, and what you are excited about, and where there are problems that need to be solved.
Not just trendy ideas like this idealized notion of fintech bringing access to financial markets to the everyman. (That’s really not happening, as far as we can see.)
Or edtech as revolutionizing access to education and changing poverty and fighting issues of socioeconomic injustice. (Ditto.)
These are certainly interesting areas that may be worthwhile for you to focus on, and you can layer in a “make a difference” marketing pitch along with your stated goals to pursue them.
But if you REALLY want to make a difference, then is an MBA even necessary? Why not go out and do difference-making things? Like, today?
Or are you just saying in those essays what you think will sound good to your reader, so that they think you’re a very high-minded and motivated young whippersnapper, and they’ll be more inclined to admit you?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a Product Manager at Facebook.
Just be real with yourself.
And in your apps.
This is what the adcoms mean when they say that they want you to be authentic.
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