JUNE PRE-MBA TO DO LIST
IF YOU INTEND TO SUBMIT BUSINESS SCHOOL APPLICATIONS IN ROUND 1, YOU HAVE 100 DAYS (POSSIBLY FEWER) UNTIL THE FIRST DEADLINES.
Before you read on, visit the websites of ALL of the programs you are considering and sign up to receive information. You will be notified when each school’s application comes live and hear about webinars, chats and other resources to learn about their program offerings.
Now, what else should you be doing in the month of June?
Nail down your Why MBA? Why Now?
Assess your accomplishments to date and determine where you want to go professionally. Think about what skills, knowledge and relationships you need to develop through an MBA program to put you on track to achieve your short and long-term goals. What experiences do you have to date that will allow you to add value in the classroom and in small groups with peers. If you are outside of the 80% range of years of work experience (typically 3-8 years) you will need to explain why NOW is the right time for you.
How is your GMAT/GRE score looking?
Are you happy with your current standardized score? Do you need to re-take it? June is a great month to take the GMAT or GRE, especially if it is your first time. Taking the test now will give you time to re-assess and re-take before you get too deep into the application process for Round 1. Stay on top of the test center situation. If you haven’t reached the score you know you are capable of, you might want to reconsider your test prep strategy.
Update your resume.
Your professional profile is not going to significantly in the next few months. However, the resume that you used to get your current job is likely NOT what MBA admissions committees are looking for. Keep in mind that your resume is just one component of your MBA application so be careful about duplicating material that a reader will find elsewhere. The one time that your resume will need to stand alone with respect to business school applications is for an interview. Make sure that anything you might want to discuss in an interview is referenced on your resume. See How to Create the Best Possible Resume for Your MBA Applications.
Now is the time to choose who you would like to be your recommenders. Make sure your recommenders are aware of your interest in obtaining an MBA. Gauge their enthusiasm – you want to choose recommenders who will say that you are the best of your peers. Use this time to informally update recommenders on your goals and why an MBA is the right path for you. Put together materials to share with your recommenders so they have something to reference as they write. This would include a copy of your resume, reminders of your accomplishments and impact, your short- and long-term goals, the schools you are applying to and their submission deadlines.
Continue your school research.
Once you have identified your areas for development, find the resources at each program you are applying to that will allow you to address your gaps. Dig into the curriculum – what are the electives that you might want to take? Does the school have a major or concentration that aligns with your goals? What teaching methodologies are used and do they align with your learning style? Explore clubs and extracurricular activities – is there a professional club that aligns with your target industry and/or function? Does the school host a conference or offer career treks so you can engage with industry leaders? Start with online resources and school webinars then make personal connections with students and alumni to fill in the blanks.
Before you jump into essays and worry about word count and prose, take the time to do an outline. It is much easier to move ideas around in an outline. Be sure your story is sound and that you are answering each question. After you have put together an outline, put it away for a day. Review it and assess the structure/flow. Then you can start writing. If you are applying to multiple schools, beware of repurposing content and think about how many different sets of essays you are comfortable working on at a time.
Create a plan.
As submission deadlines become available, develop a project plan to prioritize your work based on the application due dates. Include key professional deadlines and personal commitments. Build them into your plan to create a schedule you can hold yourself to throughout the application season. Make sure to give yourself an occasional evening or weekend off to rejuvenate. The business school application process is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself!