Written by: Michelle Miller, CEO ARINGO Americas, [email protected]

A common concern we hear from candidates surrounds the formation of goals, both short-term and long. Some candidates need help outlining the steps leading up to their ultimate goal, while others have an idea of what they’d like to do but are not yet certain. Business schools are looking for smart, motivated candidates with a thought out, structured plan for success. It is your job to explain your goals and how you will achieve them. The second part of our Seven Things to Know Before You Apply Series will review our reliable, time-tested process for identifying goals and developing a concise roadmap.

Step one is to dream big. Seriously! Ask yourself: “what would I do if I could do anything?” Write this down. Unless you wrote “Be Batman” or something similar, start here. What are similar positions or career fields you would also enjoy? Next, create a basic list of steps from your current job to the end goal. Don’t feel pressured to get too specific here yet, the point is to brainstorm as it will likely help you identify other areas of interest. Now review: Is this an exhaustive list of areas you would like to work in? Do you have a rough idea of how to get there? Are there other paths you could possibly take to successfully obtain the end goal?

The second part of the process is where we lay the groundwork. What are the connections from your current and past experience to your future goal? In addition to your professional experience, have you had an opportunity to learn more about your chosen field in other environments such as in a volunteer capacity, or through coursework, or clubs? Dig deep to consider what has attracted your interest and how you are already preparing yourself to move forward.

The final piece of the puzzle is the MBA itself. How does business school fit into your overall goal? Is it a necessary step? Why or why not? Check the brainstorming you’ve done so far: are you expecting the MBA to be the “linchpin” of your future career, or a supportive step? And last but not least: How will your selected school uniquely prepare you to be successful? As we will discuss in future segments, don’t make the mistake of creating just one narrative. Be prepared to explain how each school is the right choice, and be specific about why: specific courses and professors, unique internships, student organizations, and other factors.

MBA admissions committees are not just deciding whether they “want” you, but how their program will suit you and your goals. Take the time to consider your future path and how your background combined with the right business school will equal success. Your future self will thank you!


NEXT: Hacking the MBA Applications – Part Three: The Importance of Networking for your MBA Application