Discovering your strengths is the first and, arguably, the most important MBA Prep StepTM. Effective self-assessment is one of the keys to developing an outstanding application. In this module of the website, we will help you to acquire a thorough understanding of who you are, what your strengths are, and what you have to offer the schools you’re applying to.
When our admissions consultants are working one-on-one with MBA Prep School students, we go through the same self-assessment process described in this website. Over the years, we have found that even those who think that they already have a firm grasp on what their strengths are end up admitting that this was time well spent.
Creating a business school application is a little like building a mosaic. Each tile adds something new to the mosaic until a complete picture of you emerges for the admissions committee. Based on this complete picture of you, they will make their admissions decision. Of course, an application isn’t built from tiles; it is constructed from your transcript, test scores, resume, essays, reference letters, application form, and interview answers. Those, in turn, are built piece-by-piece from the contents of your academic, personal, and professional history. So we will refer to the “tiles” of your application mosaic as Content Building Blocks.
The mosaic analogy is instructive because it offers you three prescriptions for creating an outstanding application:
- You want each building block to be of the highest quality;
- You want to give admissions officers exactly the right number of building blocks – not too few and not too many; and
- You want to ensure that the building blocks come together to form a clear picture of you.
If all of these conditions are met, then your application will present a vivid image of the best of who you are.
The Discover Your Strengths exercises in this website will help you to fulfill prescriptions 1 and 2 above. You will use these exercises to discover the Content Building Blocks from which your mosaic will be built. Looking ahead for a moment, in the other MBA Prep Steps™, you will satisfy prescription 3 and find the right spot for each building block in your resume, essays, recommendation letters, application form, and interview answers. You will assemble your building blocks into a clear picture of you. Unlike your competition, you won’t have to rely on an over-worked admissions officer to put the building blocks together properly; you will have performed the heavy lifting for them.
One’s strengths may be hard to see from the inside looking out because they are so interwoven into the fabric of one’s life. In this MBA Prep Step™, you’ll learn step-by-step exercises that will help you to Discover Your Strengths.
In Unit 2.1 you will Discover Your Points of Difference. Points of Difference is a term of art in the marketing world that refers to the positive ways in which a company’s product differs from its competitors. In our Points of Difference exercise, you’ll identify the positive ways that you are different from your competition—other applicants.
You will Discover Your Character Strengths in Unit 2.2 Character Strengths are the combined elements of your character that make you an individual distinct from others; your Character Strengths include character attributes like creativity, honesty, and generosity; they are the qualities that society and, it follows, business schools hold in high regard. We’ll introduce you to a profiling tool developed by psychologists that will offer you a number of valuable, initial insights on which of your Character Strengths you might want to emphasize in your application.
In Unit 2.3, you will Discover Your Career Story. We use the verb “discover” here deliberately because although many candidates have created a resume before, few have written a Career Story. A resume is a record of jobs and achievements – a Career Story provides the connections and interrelationships between those jobs and brings your resume to life. By creating a holistic summary of the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired and what you’ve achieved professionally, you will be better prepared to differentiate your career achievements from your competition.
We will show you how to Discover Your Leadership Capabilities in Unit 2.4. If you were applying to art school, you would be expected to present a portfolio of your artistic work so far. Business schools, on the other hand, are interested in your Leadership Portfolio – the collection of leadership accomplishments that are indicative of your leadership strengths and leadership potential. Our Leadership Story Analysis exercise will help you to discover your leadership capabilities and assemble the key leadership stories that make up your Leadership Portfolio.
Discovering your strengths is not easy – which is exactly why completing the exercises in this unit will provide you with a competitive advantage in the application process. You will be able to identify and assemble the Content Building Blocks for an outstanding application.