With a few exceptions, articulating your post-MBA goals is a crucial part of the application process. Most business schools want to know how you will make the world better when you leave their campuses and what your unique mark will be.
As you begin to reflect upon and articulate your goals, consider these four key pieces of advice.
1) Be decisive.
While no one will hold you to what you write in your business school essays, you should generally be decisive when discussing your career goals. Pick a set of goals and run with them. Candidates should not expect to “find themselves” in business school. If you do have multiple ideas in mind, some schools are comfortable with understanding your thought process and decision-making criteria (we discuss this with our clients on a case-by-case basis). Most schools, however, will want candidates to have clear plans laid out before they arrive on campus.
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You should generally include both a short-term and a long-term goal (though for some schools, there will not be space for both). These goals should be specific, naming potential companies and roles you hope to fill.
Your goals may very well change while you are in school and this is expected; put a stake in the ground for your applications.
2) Your career goals should be ambitious, yet attainable.
As valuable as an MBA is, you likely will not be running a department on the first day out of business school. Do your research and figure out what jobs are realistic for you. You can start by looking at career postings from companies in your target industry. Pay close attention to required industry experience, particularly if you are considering changing careers. This will give you a good idea of what role you might be qualified for immediately post-MBA. Then, with that role as a launching point, set out an ambitious path and long-term goal for yourself. This long-term goal is your opportunity to dream big and show how you will drive change in your future industry.
3) Share how you will be unique.
Even if you have a very common career goal, such as becoming a management consultant, you want to share with the reader how you will make your unique mark. Perhaps there is a specific area of expertise you intend to develop within the consulting industry or a sector you will focus on. You must go beyond simply stating what position you are hoping to achieve. Think deeper and share your vision for improving your chosen field or company.
4) Articulate passion.
A strong career goals essay will communicate passion for your future field. This does not mean that you need a long explanation for why you selected this career path, but as you provide the context and discuss your future it should be clear to the reader that this is a profession you are excited about. Sharing what drove you to this field and current innovations you are particularly intrigued by is one way to show such passion.
Remember, while there are some overused career goals, there is generally no right or wrong goal. Instead, career essays fail by not hitting on these four points.
For a more detailed and customized plan, and individualized support with various aspects of the MBA application process such as early planning, school selection, essay editing or interview preparation, visit Personal MBA Coach.
This article has been re-published from Personal MBA Coach’s blog.