Last time, I promised to show you how to increase your chances of admission by having firm, clear goals. One of the key reasons for this is to demonstrate fit. This phrase is widely used, but not generally understood.
To illustrate, let’s take the case of a common applicant who wants to enter the world of management consulting. And let’s say they are aiming high – to get an offer from McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group. But they might also be kicking around some other ideas and (I’ve seen this) investment banking seems like an equally interesting idea.
The best place to start – is a JOB DESCRIPTION for each goal. Sounds simple, but this is what’s called thinking from the end. Ask yourself, what excites me about this job description? When it comes to the qualifications – what do I have now, and what do I need? How will an MBA help me get what I need to become qualified? Which programs are best suited to doing that?
Rather than spend $200K guessing what might work, posting stuff on GMAT Club asking for advice from other applicants who might be equally in the dark, go to the end user here. Who are you trying to sell this education to? Who is going to help you pay off loans, and help you establish a positive net worth?
I would recommend that the applicant contact the MBA recruiter (yes, this is a real person) at the MBB office where you want to work post MBA. Ask about where they recruit, because each office recruits locally, to some degree. Also, find headhunters and independent recruiters who tend to place applicants for top consulting firms. And lastly, of course, network with people who are doing what you are thinking about doing. Who have been in your would-be shoes.
To do this, I am a big fan of the advanced search feature on Linked In. You can identify the parties mentioned above by school, employer, etc. In this situation, you will probably want to send some “inmails.”
I’m not trying to sell Linked In here, but get premium, it’s free for 30 days, and this is your life, after all. Don’t be pinching pennies when it comes to identifying and landing your dream job, one that won’t feel like work, and will help you feel good about Monday morning. Because this is the goal, not attending business school Business school is a means to an end, and that end is to get you into a job that makes you happy (however you define that.) Some might say it is to find a better paying job – however I have seen too many people get that better paying job and then use money to try to make themselves happy, when they could have just achieved it directly.
Write a letter to these people that is easy for them to answer. Please do not write something like, “Tell me what management consulting is all about.” That is abstract, unfocused and you would not want to be on the receiving end of that email. They would be thinking, this joker doesn’t really get that I work 80 hours per week and have no time for games. I recommend that you work with a career coach and put together a kind of cover letter, stating the specific information you are seeking (how to select schools, in this case) and then put together a list of 10 questions where the answers will be more than yes/no, but won’t require the recipient to delve into the depths of their psyche.
Not everyone will respond, but if you put together an effective email (edited by someone like myself) you WILL get responses. This always seems to shock my clients (quote, “just to be clear…you’re telling me to email the former Prime Minister of Australia?!” but many people out there DO care and would like to help others sidestep mistakes (and loans) that could have been avoided. In certain circumstances, my clients have decided NOT to attend b-school and to instead attend a school of public policy. Or just focus on how to achieve their goal in a different way, from their current position. I am thrilled, frankly, that this process saves my clients potentially wasted years and several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So, after getting the qualitative input on the job itself, you think – would I be OK with being away from home Monday through Thursday? How would my wife and dog feel about that? Do I enjoy having to interview employees about what they do? Do I like Excel well enough to build models? Is this my thing?
If it isn’t, you might take Kellogg or Tuck off your list o’ schools. But if it is, review their employment stats reports. You might discover such and such school is a big feeder for Deloitte but less so for MBB – would that be OK? If so, move on to subscribing to their You Tube channel and watching You Tube videos and video “podcasts” to find out more about the culture there.
Take note of the values they state, explicitly or implicitly, and in your essays, write about how those values resonate with you, and give examples of how you’ve modeled them in your life. Reaching the adcom on the level of common values is a much deeper connection than most make – and it is effective. It makes you memorable.