Stop Following This Terrible MBA Application Advice

A lot of TERRIBLE advice is going round pressuring MBA applicants to rush in to community service for the sole purpose of rounding out their CV for business school. Does the advice make any sense? No, MBA adcoms are not stupid. Is the advice designed to stress you out so you don’t feel good enough to apply without professional help? Probably.

Angela Guido is here with the proverbial scythe to mow down once and for all the idea that you have to be doing community service in order to get into a top business school.

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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

You don't need community service. I'm just going to come out and say it. That's it. That's the punchline. You can stop watching. Hi, I'm Angela Guido. This is MBA Monday. Welcome back to our channel! Today I'm going to go on a little rant related to some conversations I've been having recently with prospective MBA students. You may know that we offer free consultation calls for anybody who would like to work with our team on their MBA applications. The calls are amazing, they have an NPS score of 94%. But of course, they're designed to help you decide if you want to work with us. So if you're thinking about working with us, please request such a call. You can do so here at But today I'm talking about a topic that keeps coming up in these conversations based on the advice that other admissions consultants are giving the people that I'm talking to. What I keep hearing from nervous and really well-intended MBA applicants is “I've been told that I have to have community service and this particular consultant told me that they're going to give me advice on how I can build my profile over the next six months in my community so that I can get into the school of my dreams.”. This advice drives me up the wall. If you want to go to school for social work, I really encourage you to do that, but if you're trying to go to business school, it is not essential that you have any community service of any kind on your resume.

How You Choose To Help Others Is Entirely Up To You

Now, look, I hope that you're the person who cares about others. That is actually essential to MBA application success. But where you choose to invest your energy, your time, and your efforts is entirely up to you. So, if you're the kind of person who likes to volunteer in a soup kitchen, who likes to help people with learning limitations, who likes to tutor kids that are struggling with math, please do that. It will help the world. It will help all of those people. It's a very good thing to do. But if you're working in a job where you work 90 hours a week and frequently have to travel and therefore cannot establish any long-term commitment outside of work, or if you've chosen to dedicate your service to others in different areas, that is not going to limit your chances in MBA applications at all. Not at any school, not at Harvard, not at Stanford, not at Wharton, not at any other program. Every year, we have multiple candidates who get into schools like Harvard and Stanford who have done literally nothing in the community service world. What they have done is invest in the people around them wherever they were. So for example, if you get involved with recruiting for your company, or training and mentoring of new people within the organization, or employee resource groups, leading affinity events, leading Lunch-and-Learns, leading conversation, or diversity affiliation groups — helping people like you or people different from you come together and be more successful in the organization. That is a completely valid way to spend your time giving of what you have to others. It doesn't have to be in a community service organization outside of work that's separate from what you're doing in your day-to-day life. School admissions committees want future business leaders. They want people of character, and they want people who want to make the world a better place. They are not going to nickel and dime you on where exactly you've chosen to make the world a better place. They are going to look to see that you've done so. They are going to look to see that you have invested your time in becoming a better version of yourself and in helping others do the same. So if all of your bonus time that you aren't spending doing the job that you're paid to do is spent at work helping other people be more successful, that's perfectly fine.

So look, if you are a year or more out from your MBA application and there are community organizations, causes, or communities that you care about, that you actually would enjoy investing your time contributing to, I highly encourage you to do that. It's the right thing to do. It's good. It's going to make you feel good. Do it. But if your application is this season, if it's coming up in the next six months and you don't have any community service on your resume, please don't go out and invent some activity. Don't try to quickly get involved in some organization that you have no affiliation with just to look good on your application. Ironically, it will actually have the opposite effect. It will make it look like you are doing something just for the sake of appearances, which is so much worse than doing nothing. It will distract you from the very important job of applying to business school, and it likely won't even give you the gratification that you deserve when you're making a contribution to people that you care about.

Highlight How You Contribute In Your Own Way

So take a moment and take stock of all the ways that you have so far in your life invested in the success of others, and highlight those things on your resume, in your MBA essays, and in your interview. Take what you're already doing, what you're already passionate about, and bring that forward in the most inspiring way in your applications. Don't go off and try to invent something new to do just because somebody told you that you had to have community service for your MBA applications. It's just not true. I promise you. I've been doing this for 15 years and many, if not most, of our successful clients put all their eggs in the career basket. All of the investment that they're making in others is at work, and that's perfectly fine. I hope you've enjoyed my little rant today. If you're interested in having a call with me or a member of the team to chat through your profile and to discuss working with us and bringing out all the amazing things that you have already done to contribute to others in your essays in a way that touches and inspires the audience, sign up for a consultation call with us. And if not, either way, I'm wishing you all the best. May you go forth and contribute to the people in your lives before your MBA, during your MBA, and beyond. And next time, I promise I won't yell so much in the video. It's just this one makes me so mad. It's such a deliberately distorted misconception to make you feel less good about yourself so that you need someone else to help you. But you're awesome. See you next week!

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

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

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