How to Think About MBA Goals

by Personal MBA Coach, Apr 21, 2020

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“What do you want to do after you graduate from business school?”

This seemingly simple question can actually be one of the most difficult to eloquently answer. With a few exceptions, articulating your post-MBA goals is a crucial part of the application process. Most business schools want to know how you will make the world better when you leave their campuses and what your unique mark will be.

As we shared in last week’s 5-month MBA plan, all class of 2021 (or R3/R4 class of 2020) candidates should be fine tuning their post-MBA goals if they have not already done so.

As you begin to reflect upon and articulate your goals, consider these six key pieces of advice.

1) Be decisive.

While no one will hold you to what you write in your business school essays, you should generally be decisive when discussing your career goals. Pick a set of goals and run with them. Candidates should not expect to “find themselves” in business school, though in reality this often happens. If you do have multiple ideas in mind, some schools are comfortable with understanding your thought process and decision-making criteria (we discuss this with our clients on a case-by-case basis). Most schools, however, will want candidates to have clear plans laid out before they arrive on campus.

2) Be consistent.

Your goals should be YOUR goals. This means they should not vary from school to school. Candidates can lose credibility by changing their goals to please the audience and it can be difficult to articulate true passion (per point 6 below) for goals that are not genuine.

3) Your career goals should be ambitious, yet attainable.

As valuable as an MBA is, you likely will not be running a department on the first day out of business school. Do your research and figure out what jobs are realistic for you. You can start by looking at career postings from companies in your target industry. Pay close attention to required industry experience, particularly if you are considering changing careers. This will give you a good idea of what role you might be qualified for immediately post-MBA and will allow you to specifically note which position you hope to secure after school.

4) Consider logical career pathing.

With your attainable role as a launching point, set out an ambitious path and long-term goal for yourself. This long-term goal is your opportunity to dream big and show how you will drive change in your future industry. It should flow logically (though not necessarily obviously) from your short-term goals. While you do not need to rise up the standard career ranks at your target firm (though it is perfectly fine if this is your goal), your career path should make sense to the reader and allow you to leverage the skills you will develop during your MBA and throughout your early post-MBA career.

5) Share how you will be unique.

Even if you have a very common career goal, such as becoming a management consultant or an investment banker, you want to share how you will make your unique mark. Perhaps there is a specific area of expertise you intend to develop within the consulting industry or a sector you will focus on. You must go beyond simply stating what position you are hoping to achieve. Think deeper and share your vision for improving your chosen field or company.

6) Articulate passion.

A strong career goals essay will communicate passion for your future field. This does not mean that you need a long explanation for why you selected this career path, but as you provide the context and discuss your future it should be clear to the reader that this is a profession you are excited about. Sharing what drove you to this field and current innovations you are particularly intrigued by is one way to show such passion.

Remember, while there are some overused career goals, there is generally no right or wrong goal. Instead, career essays fail by not hitting on these points.

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email scott@personalmbacoach.com for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!