FULL DISCLOSURE: This post targets individuals that are thinking/planning on getting a FT MBA in two/three years.
Over the last three weeks I have been approached, messaged and emailed by individuals that are “thinking/planning to apply in two years.” If you are one of these individuals, this post is for you. First of all: WOW, you are amazing and way ahead of the game. I wish I was you two years ago.
A lot of these items are outside of the control for this year’s applicants (sorry, but I’m in the same boat!). Today’s applicant can do very little in terms of CREATING the value of their resume, and quite frankly, they should be 99% focused on COMMUNICATING the value of their resume. However, for those that are a couple years out, here is a summary of those talks with S, M, T, and others; I hope you enjoy and find them useful.
“Every battle is won before it is fought.” -Sun Tzu.
It’s time to sharpen your sword, put on your armor and set your strategy in place to attack these applications!
Increase Your Impact
MAKE SURE that you are increasing your influence and impact in the workplace. Earn promotions, better assignments, positions where you manage others, etc. These movements prove that you are already having a stellar career, which increases your value as an applicant. In my mind, this is the MOST important item you can focus on for the next two/three years. This is your SWORD that you will wield to attack schools’ applications and is your main tool for victory.
Conquer the GMAT
THIS BEAST of a test is really difficult. In my dream world, I would devote 200 hours over 3 months to study for this test to take it ONCE and get a 720 or higher. That is what it honestly takes (in my experience). I did 150 hours in 10 weeks and got a 710…. DON’T BE ME (I’m taking it again). There are a lot of great resources out there, but at the end of the day it just takes sweat, dedication, and LOTS & LOTS OF CONSISTENT, SUSTAINED STUDYING TIME. This is probably the second most important item in my opinion. This is your SHIELD that will protect you and get you “in the door.” While I doubt it will win the battle for you, it will stop you from getting prematurely escorted from the application battlefield.
Develop your passion with Extra-Curricular activities
GET INVOLVED with a field that you are passionate about and that is somewhat relatable to your short/long term goals. Go for quality and not quantity of activities. Three years of one cause, where you are showing increasing responsibility and involvement, is WAY better and more powerful than 1 year of three different activities where you simply volunteer. This is a great way to show off your passion, leadership skills, staying power and habit of excellence. This is a great differentiator and acts as your ARMOR. (Everyone remembers the Black Knight.) It protects you from small attacks and also differentiates you from the other players on the field.
Fix your GPA
IF YOU HAVE a C in a math class that is dragging your GPA down, it is probably a good idea to retake that class to help your GPA. Thankfully my GPA is pretty good, but if yours is lower than 3.4, it may be worth your time to check out your options. The GPA is your HORSE; it’ll get you to the battle, but won’t win it for you.
Research & Visit
STUDY YOUR SCHOOLS. Know what applicants they look for, what programs they excel at, what clubs they offer, what alumni connections they broadcast, etc. Make sure you visit your schools and speak to current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This is your MAP; don’t wait to the last month to do your research!
The “perfect timeline” and final thoughts
I highly recommend taking the GMAT at LEAST a year before you apply if not sooner (you may have to take it again). Visiting schools the spring before you apply is also a good idea. Ultimately, try to get as much work done in the year before. As far as developing your career and extracurriculars, that should start today. Have honest communication with your employer to understand how you can move ahead in the organization (however you should probably not say, “how can I get promoted so I can leave for two years?”).
And here is my GOLDEN TIP: Create the resume you would like to submit for your school applications in two/three years. Actually CREATE it on paper and print it. Post it up somewhere where you will see it everyday, and DON’T STOP WORKING TO CREATE IT IN YOUR LIFE.
Winter is coming.
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Other Posts you may be interested in:
- (Full-Time vs Part-Time MBA) Reach for the Stars: Why I am choosing a Full-Time MBA
- My MBA Journey So Far (Part 1)
- A Crazy Day in the Life of an MBA Applicant