One of the biggest industry feeders to top MBA programs, year in and year out, is consulting. Consultants often come to business schools with an impressive list of client experiences, analytical skills, and business presence.
Now, given the surplus of candidates applying from this applicant pool, application season can be very competitive. This competitiveness makes it even more important for consultants to avoid the following issues when applying to MBA programs:
1) They Have No Clear Need for an MBA
A career in consulting presents many opportunities to develop a myriad of skills. Consultants are regularly poached to work with some of the top companies in the world, as well. The challenge sometimes for consultants applying to business school then is properly communicating why they actually need an MBA.
This may come across as a little odd, given that one would assume if you are applying to business school you should have this detail mapped out, but sometimes a candidate’s rationale can seem muddled in their application. In a weird way, business schools want to feel like they are needed by the applicant, and if there is not a clear opportunity to add value to a person’s life post-MBA, that can be problematic for a candidate applying from such a competitive applicant pool.
2) Using Too Much “We” and Not Enough “I”
One of the great advantages of working in consulting is the teamwork-oriented work culture the industry is known for. As MBA programs move increasingly towards a more collaborative approach to learning, the ability to work with others becomes more and more valued. However, given their predominantly team-based work, many consultants struggle to communicate their individual contributions to the greater good of a company. As such, resumes and essays often read as too much “we” and not enough “I,” thus making it difficult for the Admissions Committee to discern the true impact the individual applicant has had during their career.
3) Minimizing Accomplishments
Consultants can drive huge impact for clients and their firms on almost every project they work on. This exposure to top companies and major projects on a consistent basis can sometimes make it difficult for consultants to properly contextualize the impact of their work. Avoid minimizing your accomplishments by focusing on your own individual contributions, not just through quantitative numbers but also through qualitative experiences. Focus on highlighting your most impactful moments while contributing a holistic view of your work to best inform the Admissions Committee of your accomplishments.
Follow the tips above to avoid wasting all of the great experience you have developed as a consultant when applying to business school.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.