How to improve believability of your post-MBA goals

When clients share their post-MBA goals, I first evaluate their resume, volunteering experience, motivation, and career progression. The combination of the evaluation factors almost always determines the feasibility of the goal.

The follow-up questions are primarily skewed towards understanding six factors:

1) Motivation for Post-MBA Goals

An MBA should not be the first attempt at upgrading your skills or experiencing cross-cultural learning opportunities. Most successful applicants demonstrate the initiative to gain additional experience by taking on projects that require them to come out of their comfort zone. Marketers and Finance professionals learning a new technology to complement their core skills is a typical but effective example. Technologists and consultants taking certification in Finance or Marketing courses to develop an in-depth understanding of Businesses and using the newly acquired knowledge in designing systems, software or campaigns are some of the other examples we have seen applicants leverage. Many, travel to client location, meet multiple stakeholders, develop the perspective on cultural and organizational challenges, integrate technology to overcome systemic inefficiency, and take the ‘extra’ effort to define the problem from multiple angles.  

When post-MBA goal is cited, with evidence of gaining cross-functional exposure and going the extra mile, the believability of the goals improves considerably. Anyone can cite ambitious or even outrageous post-MBA goals. It is not what you desire but what baby steps you have taken that would persuade the admission team that you have the work ethic and drive to achieve your goals.

2) Volunteering and Secondary Skill Development

Volunteering has become an integral part of admissions at the undergraduate and graduate level and for a good reason. Functional expertise and learning from books are essential but not the only criteria for achieving your post-MBA goals. Most of the skills for the future is heavily dependent on emotional intelligence. Without interacting with people from diverse cultures, hierarchy and motivation, understanding the ‘ground’ realities is an uphill task even with a complete understanding of management concepts. Since many of the MBA candidates would take on an advisory role, volunteering experience pre-MBA and during MBA is an essential part of recognizing the ‘human’ side of the problem.

Although top MBA programs are heavily concentrated in the US, the problems that affect the majority of the world population are not ‘first world’ in nature. Governments and non-profits are inefficient in tackling problems of such scale. The expertise of a professional, who has worked in a highly systemized and incentive-based environment could be effective in improving the efficiency of the non-profit’s operations. In addition to the altruistic nature of the engagement, social initiatives give MBA applicants, the exposure to adapt in a cross-cultural environment – a criterion quoted as the most vital part of excelling in an International Business.

3) Shadowing Projects and Sacrifice

Most applicants who seriously began contemplating an MBA had the ‘talk’ with the supervisor – the person up the hierarchy, on the ineffectiveness of persisting in the current role. Depending on the persuasion skills, the candidates take on roles that range from ‘shadowing’ a project to sacrificing seniority while joining as an ‘entry’ level professional in the new job function. Some realize that the Employer is not willing to take the big risk without the proof of an ‘MBA’. Others who work in the new job function finds out that there are skill gaps that no short courses can bridge.

Evidence of ‘Sacrifice’ is essential for career switchers to convey the message that they are willing to put in the hours for the internship opportunity and take full advantage of the curriculum’s customizability. A targeted list of electives mapping the post-MBA skills with the course curriculum is an exercise that applicants should perform to refine their goals.

4) Leadership = Bias Towards Action

Applicants with military background consistently outperform any other demographic in MBA application. The clearly defined command structure, respect of authority, focus on goals and mission, team above self, and integrity to remain unaltered by the politics of the organization, make military applicants a highly desired group. Finance and Consulting – two of the most common post-MBA functions require considerable sacrifice in personal time either in the form of travel or staying in the office till 2 am. Military personnel are used to such sacrifice on duty; while many attributes make them unique, the bias towards action is one ‘winning’ trait that gives them an edge over other candidates.

Post-MBA goals are often ambitious. Any plan to take on roles with considerable roadblocks require personalities that are not discouraged by setbacks. The experiences of persuading team members, motivating them after a setback, and demonstrable resilience are valued in MBA admissions.

5) Feasibility

What is the chance that a Marketing professional would successfully transition to investment banking?

Very low.

Historical data and trends should not discourage you from trying, but if a vast majority of applicants from your background have failed to transition into a role that you have defined as a post-MBA goal, it is time to pay closer attention to the statistics. Unfortunately, the mapping of pre-MBA to a post-MBA role is absent in the employment report. Networking with professionals from your background through LinkedIn, MBA Tours/Info Sessions and in your organization would expose you to the feasibility of the post-MBA goal.

A large percentage of MBA candidates change their goals after joining the program. It is essential to ask the Alumnus whether the role they choose is the one they mentioned in the essay.

Another quick way to measure the feasibility is to check the percentage of the previous class in the job function and industry. If both are in single-digit percentage, the chances to switch into the combination is low.

Example: For the latest Columbia MBA class, the percentage entering the Healthcare industry post-MBA is 2.8% and those who chose Marketing as a function is 8.1%. Marketing pharma products or medical devices as a post-MBA goal is not a feasible plan for a Columbia MBA graduate. Of course, there would be exceptions; mostly professionals who are going back to their employers. For career switchers, understanding the numbers is paramount for their application.

6) School Fit

The School’s fit is determined by the entry criteria, applicant’s work experience, culture and international factors (economy, competition – application volume and similar profile, immigration, and industry demand). Many applicants after numerous GMAT retake and falling short of the target school’s median score by over 30 points, begin to focus excessively on spinning the narrative. Although we recommend creating interesting narratives, understanding the lower limit of the entry criteria would help you reset the expectations.

For top 10 MBA programs, a GMAT 730+ score and GPA of 3.4 and above out of 4.0 is a winning combination. Unfortunately, a large percentage of applicants who have met the GMAT/GPA criteria are among the rejected applicants. Work experience becomes another critical piece of the puzzle. If the career progression is not clearly defined – associate to an analyst, associate to a project manager or similar jumps where you were among the top 20%, the admission team will seek reasons for your rejection. In start-ups where the organizational structure is flat, your contribution is mapped against the milestones the company has achieved.

International factors – the state of the economy, the application volume from international applicants and the subsequent competition from similar profiles, industry demand, and in some cases visa rules from a protectionist government can affect the admission team’s decision.

But the most important criterion in school fit is the culture. Some schools prefer all-rounders, some have a bent to accept entrepreneurial applicants with proven technological achievements while many don’t like Type A candidates.

Customizing your narrative according to the school’s culture is a strategy that would help the admission team look into your post-MBA goals seriously. Without the cultural and academic fit, your essays would barely receive the attention it deserves.

If you want us to evaluate your profile, help you define a believable post-MBA goal and customize it according to the school’s culture, subscribe to our Essay Review Service (Included – Free Resume Editing $499 + Winning MBA Essay Guide worth $99)

Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide

"Pressed against the deadline, I ordered F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay Guide as their blogs always had something interesting to say. It was by far one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Going through the Essay Guide, I learned the art of storytelling, using various ploys mentioned in the book. Most important one being the “W pattern,” a strategy of information sharing that creates a sense of excitement in the mind of the reader." -
MIT Sloan MBA Candidate

Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.

ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?

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Pages: 682

Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)
   Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
   Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 Words)

   Sample Harvard MBA Essay - Volunteering (Mental Health Awareness)  (776 Words)
+ Columbia MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)

   Sample Goals Essay 1: Enterprise Technology to Consumer Marketing (496 Words)    
   Sample Goals Essay 2: Healthcare (Finance to Consulting) (499 Words)    
   Sample Goals Essay 3: FinTech (Product Manager to Strategy) (482 Words)    
   Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 1: Value from NYC (237 Words)    
   Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 2: Entrepreneur Mindset (Persistence/Creativity/Opportunity Seeking) (237 Words)    
   Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 3: Teamwork and Learning (242 Words)    
   Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #1 (Elon Musk) (250 Words)    
   Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #2 (Father) (244 Words)    
   Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #3 (Mother) (243 Words)    
   Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #4 (Math Teacher) (242 Words)    
   Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #5 (Co-Founder) (250 Words)    

+ Stanford MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)

    Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(399 words)  
    Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)  

    Sample Why Stanford MBA: Career Switch(Finance to Green Energy Consulting)(394 Words)
    Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (740 Words)
+ Chicago Booth MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Booth MBA Essay #1: Oil & Gas to Consulting (475 Words)
     Sample Booth MBA Essay #1: Social IMPACT to Marketing (478 Words)   
     Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Father’s Restaurant Business)(493 Words)   
     Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Teach for America)(640 Words)

+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
     Personality Type (Accepted MIT Sloan Students)   
     Cover Letter Checklist   

     Sample Cover Letter – Technology Consulting (286 Words)
     Sample Cover Letter – Healthcare Entrepreneurship (296 Words)
+ Kellogg MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Essay 1: Demonstrated Leadership (Marketing) (449 Words)
     Sample Essay 2: Demonstrated Leadership (Technology) (449 Words)   
     Sample Essay 3: MBA as a Catalyst for Growth (Technology) (438 Words)
     Sample Essay 4: MBA as a Catalyst for Growth (Non-Profit to Consulting) (442 Words)
+ INSEAD MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
   Sample Essay 1: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses
    Sample Essay 2: Achievements and Failures

    Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are
MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit   
     Sample MBA Essay: Technology   
     Sample MBA Essay: Marketing   
     Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired   
     Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture   
     Sample MBA Essay: Leadership   
     Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help  
+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Business Development (Mobile Start-Up)(486 Words)
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (442 Words)   
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (452 Words)   
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (492 Words)
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (497 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band (96 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a hidden talent to do Impression (100 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through the prism of an Entrepreneurial failure (94 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Consulting for a Pharma Giant (Made a Difference) (91 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Three-Level Sanitation Campaign (100 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Water Conservation Kit (99 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Losing client (100 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Misreading Market Conditions (93 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Strategic Planning vs. Tactical Dominance in Chess (97 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone(extra-curricular) (93 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone (Daily Science Show) (99 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: Simplifying Operations for Manufacturing (extra-curricular) (90 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Leadership and Culture) (98 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Technology Project and Last-minute change) (98 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Making Business metrics relevant to a Creative team) (91 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Laziness)(100 Words)   
   Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Pessimism) (96 Words)   
   Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Technology to Marketing)(299 Words)   
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    London as the Financial Hub   
    London as the Technology Hub   
    London as the Consulting Hub   

    How to Cite the Curriculum (Example)
    Sample LBS MBA Essay (A Career Switcher from Technology to Consulting for FinTech) (489 Words)
    Sample LBS MBA Essay (A Career Switcher from Hospitality to Consulting) (499 Words)
+ Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua Short-Answer Essay Questions   
    Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)   
    Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)   
    Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)   
    Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things   
    Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)  
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
     Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words) (Finance)
     Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (494 Words) (Consulting)
     Essay 3:  Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six")    
     5 Examples with Images

+ Darden MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Near Death Experience)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Networking and Job Offer at an Unlikely place)   
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Mountaineering)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – Where you want to go with Darden (47 Words)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – Evolving Leadership Style (198 Words)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – Meaningful IMPACT (200 Words)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay: Short-term Post-MBA career goal (149 words)
+ Wharton MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    7 Professional Gains
    Sample Wharton MBA Essay 1: Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (473 words)   
    Sample Wharton MBA Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value (388 Words)

+ Sample Essays

+ The Art of Storytelling 
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses

Download Winning MBA Essay Guide (2020 Entering Class)

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