Why Your MBA Essays Need Strong Career Goals

Your career game plan is an essential part of any great application to business school. A career plan is what tells the admissions committee that you have future plans after your MBA and strong career goals to do awesome things when you finish. But it’s also a chance for self-discovery and self-evaluation as you work on your MBA application and, eventually, MBA career path: a way of getting insight into who you are and who you want to be.

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Even for schools that don't actually ask about your goals or care about them, they will come up in the interview. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to MBA Monday. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol. Today, I'm talking about building your career game plan before you apply.

Start Thinking About Your Post-MBA Career Now

Let's get right to it, when you're applying to business school, you need a career game plan. You need to have a plan for how you're going to make use of that huge investment in the MBA to forge a career in the direction you want to go. Most people, when they start the MBA journey, are somewhere on the spectrum from totally clueless to slightly vague about what their goals are and should be post-MBA. But I can't overstate the importance of thinking strategically and thoughtfully about what you want to do post-MBA and ensuring that that information is part of your MBA application.

4-Part Career Game Plan

  1. Part number one, your long-term vision. This is what you see yourself doing 10, 15, 20 years post MBA. It's that pie in the sky ambition, it's your career bucket list, it's who you really want to be and the impact that you want to have in the long term. It's OK if it's a little bit vague, if it's nailed down to maybe one industry or one general function or even one type of role or impact, because it's in the distant future and so much is going to change between now and then. You don't have to be super defined in your long-term vision. That said, many people are. Many MBA applicants have a clearer long-term vision than they do an understanding of the steps they're going to have to take to get there. Wherever you are in the end is perfectly fine, you just need to have some picture of what your long-term vision looks like. And it should be, most importantly, inspiring. It has to be actually exciting to you to work towards this long-term vision. That's part number one.
  2. Part number two are your medium-term targets. These are the steps in between the MBA and your long-term job. So that includes your summer internship. It includes your post-MBA job. It might even include a second step post-MBA. This is going to be a lot clearer and a lot more focused. This goal needs to be both clearer and more focused than the long-term vision because it's coming up fast. Once you get into business school, you're almost immediately going to have to start networking and figuring out which companies you want to go work for post-MBA. So, you need to have a pretty clear picture of this right now. For most people, they're able to narrow down their medium-term targets to a specific industry and the specific function and even a set of target companies. We work with our clients to make sure that their medium-term goals are very vivid and clear and provide a very obvious bridge to their long-term vision. So that's what you also want to work towards in your career game plan. 
  3. The third part of your career game plan are your short-term tactics. These are the steps that you're taking right now. Even before you apply to business school. It fills the gap from the present day until the day you graduate from your MBA. And it includes things like doing company research, networking with people who have the kinds of jobs that you think you want to have, doing informational interviews, skill building. If you want to go into investment banking and you're coming from human resource management, you're probably going to want to take a class in financial modeling for investment banking, for example. The short-term tactics are what help you prepare to win those jobs that you want in the medium-term post MBA, given that you're going to be competing with all of your incredible MBA classmates. And if you think getting into business school is tricky, just wait till you get to recruiting, it’s so much harder to get out of business school than it is to get in. The sad truth, all right.
  4. The final piece of your career game plan is your MBA needs. This is the two years or a year or year and a half – however long your MBA is – what do you need to gain from the program that you attend to further bridge the gap from where you are now to your medium and long-term goals? For most people, the courses, clubs, co-curricular activities that they engage in on campus are building skills and experiences towards both their short, medium and long-term goals. So, as you do school research, you're going to want to be very strategic about targeting the schools that first of all, empower the medium-term goals that you want. One good way to tell is to download our in-depth career placement report. The link is down there in the description you can read about all the different companies and industries and functions that recruit at all of your top programs. So that's a big part of your research. But then dig deeper into the offerings of each program so you can really understand how this school is going to help you build towards your medium and long-term goals.

That's it. Four pieces of your career game plan. Do the heavy lifting now so that by the time you're ready to write your MBA applications, you've got the whole thing planned. It's vivid, it's beautiful, it's airtight and most importantly, yet again, it's inspiring. I know you can do it. Talk to you next week. This has been #MBAMonday.

Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Office of Career Protocol

All Posts