I’m going to ignore everything that you can and should do before your third year of college that will help you get into a good MBA program and focus on everything after you start your third year. You can find more information on what you need to do during your ungrad to get a good job by reading Getting a job after college takes at least two years.
At the end, please let me and others know what helped you get into MBA school.
Preparing for and taking the GMAT
If you are serious about a top tier MBA program, then you cannot underestimate the value of a good GMAT prep course. I took Kaplan’s Advanced GMAT prep course. Review of the Kaplan GMAT course.
To give you an idea, I estimate that I spent around 105-110 hours studying for the GMAT. My wife felt like a single mother since I was gone every night after dinner at the library studying.
However, the time and commitment paid off. My score was not only goo enough to get me into the schools that I want to, but also earn me a scholarship.
I’m not saying this to boast, but to prove my point. Take the GMAT seriously and invest in the preparation. You will see good dividends.
Excel at your current job
Let me explain what I mean by excel. I don’t mean showing up at work every day. I don’t mean completing every task on time and on budget.
I’m talking about taking the opportunity to perform better than expected.
To go the extra mile beyond what’s required.
To leave your department, boss and company wondering how lucky they are to have you as part of the time.
Excelling results in extraordinary opportunities and experiences that will bolster your resume and enhance you during the interview. For each question, you will better be able to respond with a specific example of how you lead. And most good business schools are trying to determine what type of leader you are and will be.
You also need to excel in your current responsibilities because of the next point.
Obtain 2-3 good references
One has to be your boss.
What your manager has to say about you will go a long way in your application.
For example, if your boss gives a standard, “She’s an excellent and reliable employee who exceeds expectations,” then you aren’t getting anywhere. You don’t want to be generic or typical.
However, if your boss is able to say, “She has accomplished the following projects…that in turn grew the company in the following ways…and will be an asset to your community through…” then you have a much better chance of getting an interview.
With each of your references, please do the following.
- Provide them with your resume and examples of your work
- Provide your essays so they know how you are presenting yourself
- Let them know exactly what to expect (is this an online form, a mailed letter, etc)
- Be specific about any traits or qualities that you want them to mention
Your job is to make this as easy a process as possible for them.
Get to know the school’s staff and students
For example, one of your best friends during the application process will probably be a secretary. As you have questions, he or she will be a tremendous resource.
Also, meet the interviewers beforehand if you can. I visited the MBA school I’m going to months before I began the application. While there, I met students, office staff, teachers and the admissions officers. When I was interviewed months later, I was able to talk about my visit and they recalled me. I had instant rapport as a result of my earlier visit.
Some schools involve the students in the admissions process. If you can, reach out and connect with some of those students.
The more people that know you and know something about you before you apply, the better. You can’t have too many champions or advocates on your side.
Develop a unique story
I feel a little silly writing about developing a unique story.
The reality is that you already have a unique story. No one else has led your life or done what you have done.
The secret is to know how to present your story. Spend some time telling your story (what makes you who you are) in a way that makes it memorable. The admissions committee will have to deal with 1000s of applications. Telling your story in a unique way will make you stick out.
Be nice, prompt and grateful
The golden rule is a time tested truth – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Be genuinely nice to each person that you interact with at the school. Be gracious and courteous.
Say thank you and then send thank you emails, cards, notes, etc. And do it just because it’s the nice thing to do.
What helped you get into the MBA school of your choice? And for more advice and information on finances and careers, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter. Also, this post was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted at The Jenny Pincher.