Defining your career goals can be a daunting task. As a kid, you may have wanted to be a cowboy or firefighter. But now, your true career path is coming into view. If you are looking beyond business school, you must be prepared to talk about your career goals, in both the short- and long-term. You will likely be required to write about them in your MBA application essay(s) and explain them during interviews. How can you do this?
First, define your short-term career goals. How do you see your upcoming experience at business school helping your career? (Or will business school help you transition to a new career?) What do you hope to get out of your two years at business school? Where will you take your prior work experience and new business skills immediately after graduation? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking. An MBA can do wonderful things to your career if you know what to do with it, and if you utilize your opportunities.
Admissions officers love to read application essays about how a specific business school or program can help you reach your goals. Make sure you avoid writing about how well respected the program is, even if you write it convincingly, because most other applicants will write the same thing. Write intelligently, don’t fear specifics and show admissions officers how you have gone above and beyond to better understand why their program is the right fit for you.
Second, define your long-term career goals. This is the “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” question that you may have heard during job interviews. After you finish your MBA, your career path will look more straight and narrow, and you should have a good idea where your interests lie and where you may end up within your specific field. Do your best to avoid clichés, even if you think this is a cliché question. Do not be afraid to shoot for the stars, but be sure to stay humble and realistic.
Finally, do not stress too much about your goals. Goals are something great to strive for and work toward. They can provide drive, zeal and motivation, but also some stress. It takes time to achieve these goals; do not worry if you aren’t getting to them as fast as you might like. In some cases, your entire career path may get thrown off. Change happens! Don’t sweat it, and think about reevaluating your goals or making new ones if need be.