Most MBA applications will ask you to describe your career aspirations in a career goals essay.
Business schools ask about career goals not only because they want to enroll students with plans to achieve amazing things but also because they want to enroll the MBA applicants who they believe they can help the most.
Based on insider knowledge of the classes, clubs, resources, recruiting relationships, and prior years’ placement results, the admissions officer reviewing your MBA application will determine if his or her graduate business school fits your career ambitions.
At MBA Prep School, we recommend that you make this determination for yourself before you even apply. We reveal the three most important questions you need to answer in order to choose business schools that will truly enhance your career potential:
- Which schools have the most extensive offerings in your field of interest?
- Which schools have the strongest reputation in your field?
- Which schools have alumni strength in your chosen industry/occupation?
Which schools have the most extensive offerings in your field of interest?
MBA programs tend to stake a claim and excel in certain occupations and industries – entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, high technology and so on. A school’s admissions website will certainly brag about their predominance in one or more areas, but don’t just take their word for it; do your research.
With a bit of research, for example, you can find out where the super-star professors in your target industry or field teach. Another research step is to study the MBA program’s course catalogue carefully to find the business schools that have multiple courses in your area of career interest. You should also ask current students, which classes are always over-subscribed and which professors are in the highest demand. This information may reveal the business school’s area of competitive advantage, such as prominence in high-tech marketing.
But don’t just limit your research to the course list and faculty roster. You should also look for clubs, special events, and action-based learning opportunities that will expose you to leaders in your chosen field and will provide you with practical experience that you can tout on your resume and in job interviews. With diligent research, you will identify the schools with the kinds of resources that will prepare you for future career success.
Which schools have the strongest reputation in your field?
Graduating from a business school with an excellent reputation in your target industry or occupation will have a halo effect over you for the rest of your career. If you graduate from Kellogg, for example, people will assume that you received a top-notch education in marketing. Business periodicals sometimes rank business schools in specialty areas, such as entrepreneurial studies, but this is only one signal of an MBA program’s reputation in your field or industry. Our advice is to dig deeper so that you can find out whether or not that reputation has been earned. The way to be sure is to talk with as many practitioners in your target field as you ca and to ask them which MBA programs they respect the most. If you do, you will soon discover which schools have the strongest reputation in your field.
Which schools have alumni strength in your chosen industry/occupation?
Alumni strength in your desired field or industry is critical. An extensive MBA alumni base in your future industry means that that business school provides excellent preparation for that career track. More importantly, alumni strength translates into job opportunities for you because alumni love to hire promising, young MBAs from their alma mater. You can find out about the school’s alumni presence in your target industry by reaching out to alumni clubs. You can also gain some insight into alumni base in a field or industry via professionally-oriented online communities, such as LinkedIn.
You really can’t beat recent job placement statistics when it comes to identifying the schools that are the best fit for your career goals. First, find out which schools have long-standing recruiting relationships with the kinds of firms you want to work for. Second, see if you can obtain historical placement rates in your chosen field or occupation. A history of success helping MBA students with similar career goals land jobs in a certain industry is one of the best predictors of whether a job offer will be there for you, once your MBA diploma is in hand.