Personal MBA Coach’s January MBA Planning Kick-Start | Part 1: Making Your Career Work Harder For You

Come January, I will – Eat healthier. Exercise more. Spend more time with your family.

These may be some of the new year’s resolutions you had in mind. But for those of you hoping to apply to business school in 2019, add MBA application planning to this list.

To give you a head start and keep you on track in the new year, Personal MBA Coach has developed a 4 part series: MBA Planning Kick-Start!

Check out part 1 today: Making Your Career Work Harder For You!

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Without changing jobs, there are some steps you can, and should be taking now to ensure that when you sit down to draft those essays and prepare for your interviews you have plenty to talk about.

1)  Be honest about your desires. It may seem simple, but many of us are afraid to be straightforward about our ambitions at work. Whether or not you can be transparent now about your MBA aspirations, let your manager in on your long-term goals. Tell her what skills you hope to master. If there is an experience at work you want to have, ask for it. Many managers will be more than happy to find projects to help you close existing gaps or develop new expertise.

2)  Take on extra work. Yes, I really said this. Now is the time to ask for extra projects. Look specifically for the ones that can fill experience gaps. Even if you have already let your manager know about the skills you are looking to perfect, do not rely on him to find assignments that fit your needs. In an ideal world you would just work on your dream projects, but we know that is not possible. By identifying your own additional projects, you will get more chances to build the skills you desire. There is no better time of year to put in longer hours than during these cold, dark, snowy months (for those in winter climates) or temperature days (for those lucky enough to live in California or a warm climate).

3)  Get involved at the office. Internal projects are a great way to beef up your leadership experience and almost every company has an internal initiative that requires help. Offer to plan the next off-site, set up a training or speaker series, or lead recruiting efforts. If nothing exists, create it yourself. Starting a new program at work will score you bonus points with your colleagues and give you plenty to share on your applications.

4)  Look for mentoring opportunities. Even if you have not had the chance to manage your own team, you can still begin to perfect your management skills. Take a new hire or even an intern under your wings and show him the ropes. If you can be a formal mentor, great! But if such an opportunity does not exist, even an informal mentor relationship will supplement your leadership experience.

5)  Get your own mentor. Find someone that you connect with at work or someone you admire and invite her for coffee or a drink. Ask about her career. See if she is willing to give you general career guidance. At this stage, you do not want to ask for anything specific. Instead, start to build a relationship. Over time, you might be lucky enough to develop a champion in the office or a future recommender. Regardless, getting advice from someone more senior can always help.

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

This article has been re-published from Personal MBA Coach’s blog.

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