It has started early this year! Several leading business schools have begun to release questions and deadlines for the 2010 – 2011 application season, including Harvard, Columbia and Duke, while others have released the only deadlines at this point, including Wharton, Ross and Stanford. Those schools which have not yet released questions and deadlines will soon do so. To be notified when deadlines and questions are released, please feel free to sign up for our notification service.
If you are an aspiring MBA candidate, you may be in the midst of GMAT studying, may have already completed it, or may be sitting on your couch overwhelmed by the 150-200 hours that the average applicant spends applying to schools. However, now is the time to start networking to build the relationships that will make the application process more rewarding (and easier!) for you. With everything else you need to do to prepare your applications, you might ask whether networking is really necessary. See below to understand why my answer is a definite yes.
Why is networking valuable for business school applicants?
- It helps you to clarify whether you need business school to achieve your dreams. If you begin to connect with people in your chosen industry / function and you cannot explain in 1-2 sentences why an MBA is right for you, or you realize that the majority of them do not have an MBA (and have no interest in getting one), this can tell you two things: 1) they need more MBAs in the space or 2) an MBA is not, and never will be, right for you. Do yourself a favor and figure out which it is!
- It increases the authenticity of your application. If you’re looking to plan a career in “Y” (industry, function, etc) and you show evidence of having connected with people in that field in your essays, it lends more credibility to your explanation why a certain school will lead to your success, as well as credibility regarding whether you really want to be what you put down in your application (i.e. anyone can SAY they want to be an entrepreneur).
- It is a great opportunity to make lifelong connections to advance your career. It is much easier to reach out to people to ask for advice than to ask for a job. You’re even more credible when you really aren’t looking for one! At the same time, you have an opportunity to really impress them with your enthusiasm, focus and energy (to name only a few). If you don’t know people in the field, the application cycle can give you a reason to get to know them. Remember what you’ve heard from friends…you find the best long-term relationships when you’re not looking?
- It clarifies some of your choices once you get to school. Alumni from top schools can give you advice about classes to take, professors to connect with, student groups to become active in and activities that you should take advantage of. One of our successful clients last year received excellent advice from senior leaders at the firm he intends to work for about what they valued most about their MBA and specifically, what opportunities they suggested that he should take advantage of. For many people, it is much more interesting to learn about this from people than it is to do internet research independently.
Next week: how do you find the people to connect with as part of your application?