Previously, we discussed probably the easiest and fastest single factor that you can proactively do to gain impressiveness with your work experience. That was to ask for budget.
The next strategy you may try is a little more subtle:
There is an organizational theory that basically says that every team has a person who gets the worst tasks and the least respect. Such characteristics also occur in the animal kingdom. For example, a pack of wolves will have an alpha wolf, beta wolf, and so forth. But there is always what is called an omega wolf, the most picked-on member of the pack and the member who eats the scraps of the others. It is critically important that you are not the omega wolf. Ever. Not only is the life of the omega wolf very unhappy, the omega wolf will also not get admitted to his or her dream business school. Why? Because business school is not for omega wolves. Omega wolves do not get it. They are not going to be successful in business.
The ability to avoid being the omega wolf is a crucial business skill, and most junior people are not savvy or experienced enough to know how to get around it. Many mistakenly assume that they are themselves the omega wolves due to their low levels on the hierarchy, but this is not a priori true. Only you can make yourself an omega wolf. Those who know how to avoid being the omega wolf will make outstanding candidates for business school.
The easiest way to avoid being the forced labor omegas of an organization is to have a subordinate. Many who are considering business school are motivated because they hate being the subordinate. But that is precisely the point – you should demonstrate your ability to manage subordinates as early as possible in your career so that you yourself do not need to be one. The sooner you can demonstrate an ability to manage subordinates, the sooner you can no longer be one.
It is not always easy to get a formal subordinate early on in one’s career. But it is quite easy to arrange a subordinate relationship with somebody else if you are subtle. The first step is to identify a target subordinate. So who can you try to make a subordinate out of? Think carefully and appropriate candidates will surface.
For example, are there interns around? If not, can you bring one in? How about that new hire who is nominally your equal but otherwise clueless about the firm? Does your team have any support or administration staff? Do you have a much younger colleague who lacks experience?
If you think carefully, you should be able to pinpoint some people who can plausibly be your subordinate. After you have identified that person or persons, you must make your key move, which is to create a project.
So dream up of a project (with budget) that involves you, your boss, and your target subordinate(s). Because you raised this project, your boss will probably let you run it with your subordinate. Thereafter, you would be designated as having “lead a team” on a specific project that did such and such magical thing for your organization. Wow. What leadership! What ability to manage others! That’s the kind of outcome that business schools look for in you, but for the love of Michael Porter do not openly talk about the maneuvering that went into it.
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This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.