3 Common Mistakes MBA Applicants Make Choosing Essay Topics

Law School Applicant SurveyOne of the most undervalued steps in the business school essay-writing process is to make sure the essay ties in with all of the other components of the MBA application – the resume, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and GMAT scores. In the process and stress of making the major life decision of attending business school, many applicants often anchor their essays by one of the common factors below, and thus, lose out on presenting a stronger overall profile.

Let’s examine these mistakes one by one:

Professional Domain
A candidate’s pre-MBA industry, company, and job function are all important, so it is understandable that these may be top of mind when brainstorming for examples and highlights to include in your essay. When it comes to the MBA application essay, however, it is always best to consider mixing in different elements of your life experiences – ones that would help complement your resume and not just elaborate on what the reader will already glean from it.

Extracurricular activities, especially those that are not related to your profession, help show a multidimensional personality, so it would be wise to discuss the ones you are involved with in your essays. For instance, an accomplished banker with excellent academics may be better off sharing leadership experiences with his mountain hiking group rather than detailing how he was able to do well in the CFA exams. In this case, valuable space in the essays can be better used to show additional dimensions of the applicant’s profile.

Most Performed Activity
Another common error, especially when creating your resume and even preparing for your interview, is to focus on the activities you perform most frequently. As critical as operational and maintenance tasks are, it would be better to play up more attention-grabbing tasks. For example, it would be better to showcase how you led the financial review for your company’s new distribution model or new product lines than to describe the regular payroll disbursements you assist with.

In short, when asked to describe what you do, it is not always best to prioritize your activities by the number of hours you spend on them. Instead, choose the ones that would be the most exciting to discuss, and the ones that will highlight more of your strengths.

Technical Accomplishments
Applicants from technical fields typically want to share their most technically challenging work. Sharing complexity does demonstrate deep expertise, and that your company trusts you to take on tremendous responsibilities, however you must also consider if there are better examples that would better showcase your experiences with collaboration and leadership.

Remember, the MBA is geared towards developing your ability to work with people, whether it is through motivating teams of people, mentoring individuals, or managing challenging relationships. Thus, details on your technical accomplishments should be shared in a way that is understandable to non-industry readers. Details on these more technical achievements should be descriptive enough to show impact and expertise, but concise enough that you still have room to display the key transferable skills you learned from this accomplishment, such as leadership and teamwork.

Following the tips above should help you decide how to use the limited space in your MBA application and present a complete picture of your unique personality.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or request a free MBA Admissions Consultation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

How to Choose a College Major

GMATOur college admissions consultants at Veritas Prep are experts at helping students navigate their way through the admissions process. We help students with everything from filling out college applications to crafting a convincing college essay. Of course, once a student is accepted into a college, they must choose a major.

We’ve found that there are many students who wonder how to choose a college major. One student may have so many interests that they don’t know where to focus their studies. Another student may not know how to translate their interest in one subject into a future career. Fortunately, there are many helpful tips for students wondering how to pick a college major.

Identify Interests
Is it a passing interest or an enduring one? Generally, most high school students can put each of their interests into one of those two categories. Some students can recognize an enduring interest right away. For instance, one student might remember being interested in science ever since the first grade – they always enjoyed collecting data, performing lab experiments, and making observations in science classes. This student knows that they’d like to translate their love of science into a career.

Alternatively, there are other students who need to examine several of their interests in order to find an enduring one. One student may love caring for animals but also relishes spending time working at an uncle’s law firm as an office assistant. This student needs to compare their level of interest in each of these activities to figure out which one appeals to them the most. Once a student pinpoints their enduring interests, it’s time to do some online research.

Research Occupations
There are many websites that provide students with examples of occupations within a particular field. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is one of the most valuable resources available to high school students. Also, online research makes it possible for a student to learn the details of specific occupations. Salary, opportunities for promotion, and average hours worked are all facts included in a job’s profile.

It’s a good idea for students to keep a list of pertinent questions handy so they can take a good look at the viability of a particular career. All of this research enables a student to choose a major with coursework that prepares them for a desirable occupation.

Talk to Professionals in Various Fields
Talking with a professional who works in a particular occupation can be very useful to a student who is looking for a major. For instance, the student with a passion for science may want to talk with a science teacher at a local elementary school. They can find out what the instructor likes and dislikes about the work. Plus, they can ask the teacher about daily responsibilities and how to get students interested in a lesson. The science teacher can offer a personal perspective on the occupation that can’t be found via online research.

Participate in Volunteer Work
Students wondering how to choose a college major based on an interest may want to engage in some volunteer work. For example, a student who thinks they want to major in veterinary medicine may want to ask a local vet if they can volunteer at their office. This gives the student a chance to talk with the vet and observe the daily activities of a veterinary practice. The time spent volunteering can either strengthen a student’s interest in a certain activity or persuade them to examine other interests.

Meet With a College Counselor
Meeting with a college counselor is helpful even if a student is still undecided on a major. This professional has experience with students who are wondering how to pick a college major out of all of the options available. They will be able to offer simple strategies for how to evaluate various interests. Once a student decides on a major, the counselor can direct them toward the next step of officially declaring the major and beginning on a specific path of study.

Contact Veritas Prep today and we can assist you with the college admissions process, SAT and ACT preparation, and much more. Give us the opportunity to prep you for a successful four years in college!

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Intern

Stop WorryingCongratulations! You’ve just gotten your first internship offer, and you’re ready to accept.

Now that you’ve completed the search, application, and interview processes, survived the tense waiting period, and written up a few new bullet points to add to your resume, it’s tempting to think that the hard part is over now. But far too many interns end up squandering their internships by forgetting that being an intern comes with responsibilities–and that being a good intern, or a bad intern, can impact you and your career beyond just your resume.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your internship:

Understand what you’re signing up for.
Are you sure you’ll be doing work, or at least contributing to work, that either interests you or teaches you something useful? Have you asked? Do you have the time in your schedule to commit to this internship? If you have met, or can meet, your potential coworkers before accepting the internship offer: do you think you’ll get along with them? Be sure that you’re a good fit for this position, and that this position is a good fit for you. If either of those things is not the case, your internship could turn out to be a worse experience than it’s worth.

Take your work seriously. 
Are you getting paid? Great. If not, that’s no excuse to not take your internship seriously. Often, the experience and connections you gain from internships are more valuable in the long term than your salary, especially since interns usually don’t have very high salaries anyway. You aren’t really working for free: remember that you applied for the position in the first place, and that you’re exchanging your work for the opportunity to learn about that business and what it contributes to. Besides, making a good impression on and genuinely aiding your supervisors and coworkers can pay off through connections and letters of recommendation later on.

Don’t snub menial jobs.
Accept that some of your work will probably be administrative or very low-level. Filing, stapling, and the occasional coffee run may be boring, but it’s necessary work, someone has to do it, and even your higher-ranking coworkers probably do some of this too (if not more.) Just be sure that you’re spending most (or, at the very least, a significant portion) of your internship time learning useful things.

Be aware of your work level. 
Ask for more work if you’re sure you can handle it. If you’ve got all of your internship responsibilities under control and have both the time and the competence to take on a bigger project, let your supervisor know. You may even consider taking the initiative to propose and assume responsibility for a new project that you think could support the work of your team. Only look for more responsibility if you’re sure you have what it takes to live up to higher expectations. Remember that, if you end up not being able to handle that responsibility, you impact not only yourself and your own work but your team’s as well.

Keep your ears and eyes open.
Much of the value of an internship comes from exposure to work beyond your internship duties. Get a feel for the conventions, politics, and priorities of your field and your organization by shadowing meetings, paying attention to conversations around you, asking (appropriate) questions, setting up informational interviews, and doing your own side research on interesting topics and issues that come up.

Follow these tips and your new internship is sure to be beneficial to both you and your company.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

5 Great Jobs to Hold in College

moneyI, like many of my peers in college, held jobs throughout my undergraduate career in order to help make ends meet. Working while taking classes, especially at a demanding university like UC Berkeley, isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when hours worked begin to dig into study time. I knew many undergraduates who resented their jobs at cafés, restaurants, parking garages, and theaters in the neighborhood for putting extra pressure on their study schedules.

As far as college jobs go, I and a few of my friends were extremely fortunate to find positions that not only gave us the flexibility we needed to keep our studies on track, but also offered us opportunities to learn important job skills or to engage with our fields. I realized quickly that, even though undergraduate students often don’t have many options when it comes to jobs, college work hours don’t have to feel like a waste of time. Here are five of the best job options we found:

Just about every university (or university area) I know of offers paid tutoring opportunities, which are a great way to develop leadership, communication, organization, and public speaking skills. Tutoring hours are often flexible, and tutoring subjects that you yourself study can help you stay sharp in your own field. Many tutors I know also love their work because of the positive impact it can have on students.

I took notes for my university’s Disabled Students Program, which paid me a stipend in exchange for detailed lecture notes for disabled students’ use. Some universities also allow private note-taking companies to hire students to take high-quality lecture notes, which are then sold to other students. Taking notes on lectures, especially those in your field, allows you to combine learning time with work. If you’re enrolled in the course that you’re taking notes on, you can earn money in exchange for work you’d be doing anyway.

Research Assistantships
These aren’t always paid, but it’s worth looking into them either way. Gain experience in and exposure to your field, build relationships with experts, and contribute to interesting projects by working with researchers at your university. The hours are often very flexible; in many cases, research assistant projects can be completed from home.

Again, these aren’t always paid, but are definitely worth exploring anyway. Holding internships in your field will offer you work experience, exposure to your field, and sometimes even academic credit if your university accommodates it. If you need to work during college, it makes a lot of sense to do the same work you’re going to college to learn about in the first place.

Short-term Employment
Do you study computer science? Help a local business redesign its website. Do you study journalism? Hone your writing skills by looking for work as an editor, drafter or blogger for a nonprofit near you. Doing short-term work related to your field of study will help you better craft the skills you’ll need to succeed post-college and will look great on your resume, too.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Land a Consulting Job Offer Abroad

PassportManagement consulting is one of the most competitive industries to break into, and it can become even more difficult to enter if you plan to work at offices outside your school’s immediate region.

Looking at this challenge primarily from the perspective of the MBA applicant, it is important to consider the ways you can best position yourself for success before you even step on-campus. This approach is important because once you are on-campus and committed to a program, your options may be limited with regards to maximizing your chances of landing an offer at an international office.

Let’s explore a few criteria that should factor into your school selection if you aspire to work as a consultant in an international office:

Where is the location of your target program? Is this location in close proximity to the offices you are interested in? These are two very important questions to answer as you refine your target school list. The closer your school is to the region in which you wish to work, the better off you will be.

As international as many management consulting companies claim to be, local hiring needs often still claim priority, with companies hiring the greatest number of employees from local business schools. Targeting MBA programs in close proximity to your desired office is a very savvy move if you are interested in working internationally in consulting.

Geographic Placement:
In what regions of the world does your target school place students? How local, national, and global is this placement? This is another important consideration, as this information can provide you with insights into your program and the track record it has with placing students in your desired region post-MBA. The number of alumni a school has in a specific region can better inform you as to your chances of securing employment in that same region come graduation day.

Hiring Offices:
How many students has your target office historically hired from the MBA program you are interested in? This is another great indicator of how challenging it may be for you to emerge from business school with an offer from your target employer. Generally, you can find this information either from your school’s employment report or from firm-specific recruiting websites.

Alumni Representation:
Is there a strong presence of alumni at your consulting office of interest? Generally, companies will leverage alumni from schools to conduct most of the leg work during their on-campus recruiting process, which signals a commitment by firms to the program and its students. A strong alumni base within an office (and overall) is another positive sign that your target school has a successful track record with a particular firm.

Landing an international consulting job offer does not have to be a mysterious process – do your diligence before you land on-campus to maximize your chances of reaching your global career goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

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.

An Introvert’s Guide to College Job Fairs

HandshakeMy first college job fair was during my first semester of college. I signed up as soon as I saw the email. I’d heard a million times that networking was the most important thing to master in the work world, that universities like UC Berkeley could get me access to recruiters I’d never meet otherwise, and that one of the most important things I could learn at college was how to land a job.

I put on my nicest (only) suit, tossed a stack of freshly edited resumes into a folder, and marched into the fair, thinking I’d walk back out that evening with an empty folder and an internship.

Instead, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the thick crowds and by the storm of recruitment stands, students, flyers, and small talk. I left the fair exhausted and frustrated: I was completely drained of social energy, frustrated by the fact that expending my energy hadn’t resulted in an internship, and unable to match any names or faces to the dozens of business cards I’d collected. I had spent far too much time with recruiters for positions I didn’t care about, been overshadowed by more gregarious students, and fumbled through awkward, forgettable conversations with the few recruiters whose companies I was really interested in working with.

Over the next four years, I realized my mistakes and eventually developed strategies for reconciling my naturally quiet self with the chaos of job fairs. Here’s what I learned:

1) Dress the Part
For introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between: you may be a college student, but you shouldn’t dress like one! Generally speaking, people wearing Jansport backpacks are harder to take seriously than people not wearing Jansport backpacks. Invest in a couple of nice, professional outfits and a simple bag.

2) Do Your Research
Look up the list of recruiters in advance, and do some research into the participating organizations that catch your eye. Only visit the recruitment stands you’re interested in engaging with. It’s exhausting and inefficient to wait until your conversation with the recruiter to decide whether or not you’re interested in working with an organization, especially if you have limited social energy to expend. If you know what work you’re interested in, don’t waste time and energy on positions you don’t want to take.

3) Arrive Prepared
If you don’t know what work you’re interested in, you’ll need to cast your net more widely. Read websites and fair descriptions to acquaint yourself with the attending organizations, and then prepare a set of questions to ask. For instance: What internships/job positions do you have available? What might a day’s work in your company look like? How much exposure could I get to the workings of the rest of the organization?

4) Play to Your Strengths
Don’t feel obligated to stop at every recruitment stand. Actually, you’ll likely get better results if you engage more deeply with fewer recruiters. Introverts may not have as much social energy as extroverts do, but when introverts choose to expend social energy, they tend to be better at shifting interactions beyond small talk and towards in-depth, productive conversation. Understand your limits, stick to them, and play to your strengths.

On that note, take breaks and conserve energy. In order to stay focused and be at your best during conversations that matter, opt out of conversations that aren’t productive towards your goal. When you need to, grab a snack, find a quiet corner, or step out for a coffee. If your college offers the option, attend smaller recruitment events where the atmosphere is less stressful and you’re likely to feel less pressure while speaking with recruiters.

College job fairs may be overwhelming, but by following the aforementioned tips, you’ll be able to make the most of these important opportunities.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Is Your Future Business School a Consulting Feeder Program?

waiting-in-lineIf you’re interested in consulting post-MBA, understanding how consulting firms view your MBA program is always a good place to start when setting up your recruiting strategy. Consulting companies primarily limit their feeder schools based on cost, as it would be very expensive to comprehensively recruit at every business school.

Another reason feeder schools are limited is experience – consulting firms form relationships with schools and become comfortable with the crop of MBA talent that certain programs provide, giving them no reason to focus on other schools for recruiting. If you are an MBA candidate at such a feeder program, life is good! If you are not, you will have to do a bit more legwork, but you still will have other opportunities for success. Let’s discuss how to distinguish consulting feeders from other MBA programs:

First, you will want to look at the employment report of your program. This report is a treasure trove of information for students when setting up their recruiting strategies. Within this report, you’ll want to review the overall numbers of students going into consulting – this is a good measure of how robust the consulting ecosystem at your school is. The higher the numbers, the more clearly the program is positioned as a feeder.

Next, look at which companies are recruiting at your school. When most candidates think of feeder programs, they think of programs that can get them jobs at MBB (otherwise known as “The Big Three” – the three largest consulting firms in the world). Management consulting is not just limited to McKinsey, Bain, and BCG however, so the depth and the diversity of firms recruiting at a particular school is important, especially for non-feeder programs. However, if you are expressly targeting MBB, it is important to identify whether or not these firms recruit at your program and in what numbers. This information will be useful as you seek to shape your recruiting strategy.

Finally, connect with your career center or consulting club to find out which consulting firms recruit on-campus. This is an important nuance of the consulting recruiting process, as firms that recruit on-campus tend to be more accessible and provide more of an egalitarian opportunity to interview slots for interested students. Firms that consider your program a feeder school will generally be a part of on-campus recruiting, however in some instances, top firms, such as McKinsey, will choose to recruit off-campus to better control the process (even if they consider your program a feeder school). Your program’s career center will have a better idea of where you can find these recruiting opportunities from such companies.

Consulting is one of the most competitive industries to break into, so understanding the relative position of your program in the industry and what this means for your ability to land a post-MBA job offer is key. Utilize this information to best set up an actionable strategy during recruiting season.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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.

Why Be an Intern? 4 Reasons You Should Consider Getting an Internship

MBA JobsInternships are time consuming, energy consuming, and frequently unpaid. Taking internships often means filling time that might otherwise be spent on classes or extracurricular activities – and spending that time completing low-level work from an organization you likely won’t be affiliated with for more than a few months. So why are they so useful, and why is competition for them often so fierce?

The answer is that the benefits of an internship goes far beyond an intern’s (often boring) day-to-day workload. Here are a few:

1) Insight Into a Career Track
There is no better way to learn whether a career track is right for you – or whether a particular field is right for you – than to observe and meet people who are in it, and to be in it yourself. Often, interns gain just as much, if not more, from shadowing and observing company staff as they do from completing their own assignments.

2) Connections
Being in a work environment in your desired field means being regularly exposed to professionals in that realm. Internships are great networking opportunities; the connections you make as an intern can potentially open doors to future internships, study and research opportunities, and even job positions after graduation.

3) Resume Boosters
Internships look great on resumes because they show that you haven’t just looked at a subject in theory through classes and textbooks – you’ve tried it out in practice and gained perspective on the practicalities, frustrations, and other everyday realities involved in that line of work. If you continue pursuing positions in that field, whether in the form of more internships or longer-term employment, having an internship on your resume tells potential employers that you understand the work you’re getting into and have useful skills and experience to apply to it.

4) Practice
In nearly every field, working life is very different from student life in terms of hours, expectations, environment, social surroundings, and more. As such, the transition from studying a field to working in it can be a difficult one. Interning helps you to transition more slowly into working life: having fewer responsibilities and less expected of you than other full-time staff will allow you space to learn time management, to adapt to a new rhythm of life and work, and to even make a few mistakes.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Find an Internship in 5 Steps

InterviewCollege students have heard a million times how important internships are for career development, and how wise it is to start looking for internships in college rather than to wait until after graduation. This is repeated so often because it’s good advice – often, the best way to get acquainted with, and get a head start in, a career field is to see it first-hand.

Finding an internship opportunity, however, can be difficult, as they’re not often well advertised. Here are are a few tips you can use to help you find the internship of your dreams:

1) Decide what you want to learn.
Are you looking for exposure to a particular field? Are you looking to gain certain skills? Choose a priority and let that guide your search. This is important because you’ll probably encounter plenty of internship opportunities that you aren’t interested in. Don’t be tempted to take on uninteresting internships just for he sake of completing an internship; poorly chosen internships can turn out to simply be a waste of both your time and your host organization’s time.

2) Find out about internships in your field of interest.
Talk to university advisers, friends or classmates (or do research on your own) to get some information about whether organizations in your field of interest offer internships, what kinds of internships exist, and what qualifications you might need to be eligible for them.

3) Get help from your school.
Ask the career center at your university, which may have alumni networks, job placement programs, information about internship fairs, and other resources that can aid you in your search.

4) Check with local companies or organizations.
Are there any specific organizations you’ve considered pursuing a career with? Check their websites to see if they offer internship opportunities. Even if they don’t, it’s worth giving them a call or paying their office a visit to ask, as many internship opportunities aren’t posted online.

5) Utilize your personal network.
Do you know anyone in your field of interest? Ask them if they know of any open internship opportunities you might be eligible for. If so, see if you can get application information or an introduction to the internship coordinator. If not, see if your contact might know anyone else in the field who might know of potential open internship opportunities.

Don’t be disappointed if you can’t immediately obtain an internship position with a large or well-known organization. Internships in large or famous organizations are not necessarily more interesting, more enriching, or more respectable than other internships. Choose your internship based on whether you think you can learn or gain something worthwhile from it.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How You Should Spend Your First Summer After College

Study on the BeachOkay, so you’ve just finished up your first year of college. It was (hopefully) awesome and you (hopefully) learned a lot, but now it’s time for summer. Glorious summer! Throughout middle and high school, summer vacation was always the peak of the year – a time to relax and enjoy the company of old friends without the incessant demands of school.

Now that you’re a college student, though, things can seem a little different. All of a sudden, you might feel pressure from your family, friends, or classmates to use your summer in a certain way. This often manifests itself in the form of pressure to further your career prospects via an internship, fellowship, or job shadowing.

While doing this may be important, it is not the only worthwhile way you can spend your first summer out of college. It is important to remember that it is your summer – not anyone else’s – so what you choose to do with it should be a reflection of the values that are important to you.

When you don’t let any narrative or stereotype limit what you feel you are “supposed” to do with your first summer, you will be more free to make the best choice available to you. There are 3 main ways that you can use this first summer, each of which have merits and drawbacks that I’ll explore below:

1) Summer Job
One classic way to pass the long summer hours is with a summer job. This can take many forms, such as scooping ice cream, being a camp counselor, working as a cashier, and much more. Businesses are always looking for young people to fill positions, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find some form of work.

These jobs may not pay high wages, but they can be a great source of income, both to chip away at outrageous college debts or to just have some fun money to spend during the summer. They will also add work experience to your resume, and give you real-world skills that can be valuable outside of just that specific job.

2) Internship
Even though the pressure to find elite internships is often excessive, internships can be a valuable use of your time in the summer. Internships can connect you with career opportunities, help you learn what jobs are of interest to you, and give you skills that might be valuable down the road. However, internships are often unpaid, meaning that doing one is likely a long-term, rather than a short-term, investment in yourself. There are some paid internships out there (Go get one if you can!), but these are a rarity.

If possible, combining an internship with a part-time summer job can be a good way to have the best of both worlds – gain career skills while also raising money – but this can sometimes take too much time out of your summer, a time when you should be able to decompress after the rigors of college rather than add to your stress level.

3) Travel and Relaxation
College students are in a unique position, in that even though they are close to the “real world,” they still can put off searching for careers, if only for a little while. One great way to use your youth is to travel with friends or family to see new places or revisit childhood destinations. You’ll meet friends from all over the world in college, and summer is a great time to really see where they come from.

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel, you can also use your summer to completely relax. Without homework or classes, you will have time to read books, go on adventures, and give your brain a well-deserved break. Although this won’t earn you money or directly prepare you for a career, it can help clear you head and put you in a good position to continue learning from, and enjoying, your college experience.

Each of these ways of spending your summer has different values and benefits, so there is no way to definitely rank which one is best. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer – anything you choose to do over your summer vacation can work out if you approach it with the right mindset.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Get a Jump Start On Landing Your Perfect MBA Internship

One thing that many business school students underestimate is just how quickly the recruiting process ramps up when school starts. Depending on your school, you might find yourself attending company information sessions and interacting with recruiters during your first week of class! Will you be ready?

Veritas Prep is excited to partner with Career Cadence to offer The MBA Career Academy. This 1-day workshop will launch you into your career search and give you the competitive edge, before you walk on campus.

The MBA Career Academy is a 1-day workshop that will launch you into your career search and give you the competitive edge, before you walk on campus. The program was designed by MBAs and refined working with hundreds of people. It not only gives you skills, confidence, and clarity, it also provides the opportunity for you to ask any question you want – including the ones you might be afraid to ask at school.
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Networking Your Way into a Job in Business School and Beyond

Wondering how you can maximize the benefit of your MBA investment? Prospective and current MBA students are increasingly concerned with how they can distinguish themselves among their peers in an increasingly competitive post-MBA job market. According to a recent survey of over 250 current MBA students and graduates, the overwhelming majority of respondents noted that “networking” was the number one way that they could improve their job prospects and career search success. While it is certainly important for prospective MBAs to choose a program that fits their learning objectives and professional interests, current MBAs advise prospective students to take into consideration the strength of each program’s networking opportunities.
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More Good News on the Job Front for MBA Grads

MBA JobsAfter what has seemed like years of asking “Thing are bound to get better, right?” the job market is finally, undoubtedly warming up for business school graduates. Earlier this week the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released a pair of annual international surveys that show that the Class of 2011 is having an easier time landing jobs than grads of recent years, and that employers are bullish on their future hiring plans.

Perhaps the purest litmus test is the percentage of job-seeking students who land jobs before they graduate. Here we see a definite improvement in the 2011 GMAC Global Management Education Graduate Survey results, with 54% of students reporting they had at least one job offer in March (when the survey was conducted), compared to just 32% of those surveyed at the same time last year. For full-time, two-year MBA students, this number is the highest it’s been since 2008.
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More Evidence That the MBA Job Market Is Warming Up

MBA AdmissionsToday the Graduate Management Admission Council issued a release declaring the MBA job market to be on the mend, with 2010 average compensation levels for gradates from the last decade rising above levels seen in 2007. Last year the median base salary for surveyed alumni was greater than $94,500, a gain of more than $5,000 per year compared to pre-recession base salary levels in 2007.

More grads seemed to land jobs, too: 93% of those surveyed said that they were employed, compared to just 90% of the recent grads who were surveyed in 2009 (although it’s still a tick lower than the 95% of alumni who reported being employed in 2007). So, is it safe to come out from our bunkers and declare the job market robust again?
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The ABA Urges People to Consider the ROI of a Law Degree (Sort Of)

Law School Admissions
The ABA put out a statement... Wait, not this ABA?
Last week news spread around the blogosphere and some major media sites that the American Bar Association (ABA) had put out an official statement urging students to carefully consider the return on investment when thinking about attending law school. Sounds like a smart, responsible thing for the ABA to do, given the number of recent JD grads still looking for work and some of the negative attention that law schools have received in recent years for not being upfront enough with prospective students about their post-graduation job prospects.

The only catch, as Above the Law pointed out last week, the ABA actually published that document back in November, 2009. Maybe it took a while for the message to sink in?
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Job Prospects Get Better for MBA Graduates

MBA Admissions
This recent grad is willing to calculate CAPM for food.
Could the job market finally be thawing for MBA graduates? It is at least a little bit, according to new survey results that the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released last week. Eighty-eight percent of the grads who responded to the survey reported being employed after graduation, compared to 84% of survey respondents in 2009. The salary picture also improved: 2010 graduates reported a median starting salary of $78,820 (U.S.), up from $75,000 for those who graduated in 2009.
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The Economy, MBA Application Fence Sitters, And You

Recently the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released its annual report analyzing admissions trends at business schools around the world. Interestingly, while most of us tend to associate a weak economy with ever-rising applicant numbers, that trend seems to have sputtered out for the current recession.

According to the GMAC report, half of the 665 graduate management programs surveyed reported an increase in application numbers, while about 40% actually reported a decrease in applications, compared to the previous year. So, have people finally given up on the MBA as a fallback option when the economy gets soft?

That may partly be true, although a more realistic answer is that, since this particular recession has lasted longer than most, it’s tapped out as a source for additional applicants. Normally the first year after a recession hits is when schools see the largest surge in applications, when a little “pent-up demand” for advanced degrees gets released and people look for additional options as the job market gets soft. At any given time, there are thousands of applicants who are one the fence about applying. Some of them keep saying “Maybe next year” and never actually apply, while some who were about to say “Maybe next year” see their job prospects getting worse and say, “I’d better take the GMAT and start working on applying to business school.”

As these “Maybe next year” applicants come off the sidelines, they pile on top of the normal wave of applicants that passes through business school every year — the typical young professionals who are three to five years out of college and are ready to pursue an MBA. Add it all up, and you have an abnormally large applicant pool. But, this pool of “fence sitters” only runs so deep, and it essentially gets tapped out after one or two application cycles. That’s probably what we’re seeing now.

This is especially true for more general two-year management programs, which are often the most inviting for “fence sitters.” According to the GMAC report:

More two-year full-time programs (49 percent) showed a decrease than an increase (41 percent) in application volume, continuing declines seen in 2009. In both the US and Asia-Pacific region, where most full-time programs are two-year, roughly four out of 10 full-time programs saw increases. Fifty-three percent of US full-time programs reported application declines.

Meanwhile, more specialized programs, which tend to be less inviting to the more casual “Will I or won’t I?” applicant, reported a healthy rise in application numbers overall:

More than 60 percent of master-level programs in finance, accounting, and management, which traditionally draw younger students than MBA programs, reported application increases, with the average volume increasing last year by 20 percent or more.

If you’re applying to business school this year, what does this mean for you? Not a whole lot, as we wrote last month, although applicants always like to hear that they have less competition, not more. As the economy eventually (hopefully?!?) improves, application numbers will likely continue to decline, as that pool of “fence sitters” re-stocks itself for the next recession, which will come sooner or later.

Plan on applying to a top MBA program this year? Veritas Prep now offers the ability to start working with an admissions consultant today and pay over time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Law School, Hunger Strikes, and Transparency

The blogging world has been abuzz over the “Unemployed JD” scandal that broke out this week. In case you missed it, a blogger named Ethan Haines who runs a blog dedicated to crusading for better transparency on the part of law school when it comes to employment data, actually turned out to be Denver-based Zenovia Evans, an employed 28-year-old graduate of Cooley Law School in Michigan.

While everyone is more hung up on on the fact that Evans tried to rally people around a cause in a disingenuous way, we think that the assumptions behind her demands are somewhat misguided. When Evans (posing as Ethan Haines, an unemployed JD) contacted 10 law schools and told them about “his” crusade, he asked them to commit to new standards of transparency on their job placement statistics and to agree to letting Haines audit their career counseling programs.

Those standards came from another group, calling itself Law School Transparency, which maintains that by misrepresenting or under-reporting their job placement stats, law school essentially dupe students into enrolling under the false impression they will inevitably land lucrative jobs.

Even if Haines/Evans/whatever-we’re-calling-her-now got her way, we’re not sure that it would make much of a difference. We don’t want to give it all away yet, but in a recent survey of law school applicants that Veritas Prep conducted in partnership with Law School Podcaster and PreLaw Magazine, an overwhelming percentage (81%) of respondents said that they would still apply to law school now even if a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields! Further, only 4% said they would not apply to law school at all if they knew job prospects that bad. (We will share the full results of the survey shortly!)

While we certainly will join the crusade against any school that deliberately misleads people and tricks them into applying (*cough*… for-profit online schools, we’re looking your way…), even if schools replaced their glossy web sites with black & white photos of somber, jobless grads, we actually think that many would-be applicants would still apply to law school.

Why? We answer that question with another one: Why not? The reality is that, for many young people, law school (and business school, to some extent) has become an inevitable weight station on the road to real life. Is the economy in shambles? Great! Even more reason to hide out in grad school for two or three years. While the obvious downside is that many of those students will graduate with a nearly insurmountable amount of debt, most of them don’t see it that way. Either Mom and Dad will pick up the tab, or the applicant assumes that the economy will inevitably be better in a couple of years, or they would just not rather think about it today. (Or, even better, maybe Uncle Sam will bail us all out one day! That would be a hoot.)

Don’t get us wrong… Transparency is always a good thing. We’re glad that publications such as U.S. News have recently taken a stand against law schools gaming the rankings by deliberately withholding their employment data. But, for better or worse, we predict young people will keep applying to law school in droves.

For more information on law school admissions, visit our law school admissions site or call us at (800) 925-7737 to speak with an admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Photo courtesy of LollyKnit, under a Creative Commons license. And no, that’s not a picture of Zenovia Evans.

GMAC Says New MBAs Growing More Confident About the Economy

Despite an employment environment that remains stubborn, new MBA grads are growing more confident about the economy, according to a new survey released by GMAC this week. Somewhat surprisingly, this increase in optimism actually comes despite a drop in the percentage of grads who have jobs compared to last year.

According to the latest GMAC Graduate Management Education Graduate Survey, the percentage of full-time two-year MBA program grads who had an offer of employment prior to finishing school dropped to 40% this year, down from 50% in 2009. The numbers are even worse for part-time MBAs: 22% of part-time grads had a job offer before graduation, down from 38% in 2009.

Despite these gloomy numbers, about one-third of grads who said they felt the global economy is stable or strong, up from just 9% a year ago. So, what gives? How could optimism bounce back while the job picture actually gets worse by some measures?

GMAC’s news release was mostly mum on this matter, although it may simply be a matter of “bad news fatigue,” and our tendency to doubt that things can stay this bad for that long. Hardly any MBA grads (other than perhaps a handful of older part-time MBAs) are old enough to remember the last time the U.S. or global economy last went through an extended rough patch, in the late 1970s. So, for most of these grads, two years into a recession, one can’t help but ask, “This thing has to be over soon, doesn’t it?”

That’s just one theory. It could also be that they’re going on more than just faith. They may notice that more companies are returning to campuses to interact with students, even if the job offers aren’t yet flowing more yet. GMAC echoed this idea in its announcement, mentioning that the increased optimism among graduates mirrors the trend highlighted in the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, which found that employers are finally shifting their attention back to expanding their businesses.

Thinking of applying to business school this year? Give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our business school admissions experts today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

MBA Job Market Still Gloomy, But Improving

Free Business School GuidesLast week the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced the results of a new employer survey that suggests that while the job market for MBA grads is still rough, we may finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The reason for the optimism? The percentage of employers planning to hire MBA is up this year compared with 2009, although the number of new hires per company is expected to decline slightly.

After a sharp drop in stated hiring intentions last year (down to 50%), in this year’s survey about 55% of employers who participated in the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey said they planned to hire new MBA grads this year. What may be even more promising for the job market is that employers also indicated they may finally be shifting away from cost-cutting in favor of trying to grow their businesses again.

In a statement that accompanied the release of the survey results, GMAC President Dave Wilson said:

“Employers have spoken clearly. The intrinsic value they place on the skills people develop in business school does not rise and fall just because the economy does. Management talent is always critical to the well-being of any organization, and as conditions improve, employers will find ways to acquire more of that talent.”

So, if you’re in business school now or plan to apply to an MBA program this year, you may actually land a good job when you graduate, after all. However, it may take a while for MBA grads’ salaries to start growing again. A separate GMAC survey found that only 40% of full-time, two-year MBA program graduates had at least one job offer before finishing school, down from 50% in 2009. And, the number of job offers reported by the grads who participated in this study declined by about 13% from the previous year. (By the way, our 100% free Annual Reports provide job placement info and much more, for 15 of the world’s top MBA programs.)

So, although companies are saying the right things, there still remains a large number of new and and recent grads looking for MBA-level work. As long as that glut of talent is out there, salaries for new MBA grads probably won’t grow much. But, “Will I get a job??” is still the primary question on most business school students’ minds, and for the first time in a while, the answer to this question looks to be turning toward the affirmative.

If you’re starting to plan your MBA candidacy, call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our MBA admissions today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Business Schools Pound the Pavement for MBA Job Seekers

Business School Admissions
Recently the Yale Daily News ran an article about how the Yale SOM alumni network has matured to the point where current students benefit from the wide variety of Yale alumni across industries. This is notable since the school has only been around since 1976 — making it a spring chicken compared to most top MBA programs.

However, as good as that news is for Yale students, what we found even more impressive is how the school’s own administration — all the way up to Dean Sharon Oster — hasn’t hesitated to make personal appeals to the school’s alumni and supporters, in the name of helping students find jobs in a tough economy.

According to the Yale Daily News:

In an e-mail to all SOM alumni, Oster called on the school’s graduates to step up and help current students, recent graduates and even other alumni seeking jobs and internships.

“Although the economy seems to be showing signs of improvement, most of my faculty colleagues agree that we’re not out of the woods yet,” Oster wrote in the e-mail. “The strength of the SOM community is most visible in times of adversity, and so I am writing to you now to tap into some of that strength.”

Within a few hours, Oster had received hundreds of responses.

We love this kind of commitment to helping Yale students find jobs. After all, as important as a student’s two years in the classroom are, at least as important are the professional opportunities that an MBA opens up for that student. Some schools were a little slow to remember this (in our opinion) as the economy started to sink in 2008, but it’s great to see that this is not the case in 2010.

Of course, when Yale SOM makes news, our co-founders (both Yale SOM ’02) are always happy to weigh in! Veritas Prep co-founder Chad Troutwine was quoted in the article, and he cheered Oster’s actions:

Chad Troutwine SOM ’02, the co-founder and owner of test operations and admissions consulting company Veritas Prep, said he was glad to receive Oster’s message.

“I’m always impressed with a dean who rolls up her sleeves and dives in to perform what is perhaps her most important function

Signs of Green Shoots in the MBA Job Market?

MBA Admissions
In a recent Reuters article, MIT Sloan students had a rather optimistic outlook on the job market, considering how gloomy it has been for the past couple of years. As they returned from their annual “Tech Treck” job trips, in which they visit employers all over the United States, students expressed that they think the worst of the bad job market is behind us.

It sounds as though companies — especially the more tech-oriented ones that Sloan students visit — could finally start hiring again this year. While it will likely be a while before companies again start hiring at the levels that MIT Sloan and other top business schools have grown accustomed to, it sounds like the trend is clearly positive.

According to the article:

“Our MBAs are unbowed, and they came back with a lot of gusto,” said Sloan adviser Paul Denning, who has made the trek to California for several years. “The general consensus is that things are better, particularly in Silicon Valley.”

Last year, Denning said, even tech giant Google, “was really not hiring. Everything had contracted after the financial market collapse.” Now, green shoots are popping up.

Like those of other top business schools, MIT Sloan graduates find themselves choosing among multiple six-figure job offers, but that changed last year, when even healthy and growing companies such as Google significantly cut back on the number of Sloan grads that it hired. Now, as companies expect demand to warm up and some spot opportunities that they will need managerial talent to go after, grads at Sloan and other top business schools can expect the job offers to start flowing again, at least more than they did last year.

For MBA students who will graduate this year, many of whom still hope to land jobs before they graduate this spring, the news that some companies are ready to hire again is obviously a very welcome sign. It’s even better news for the Class of 2011, though — assuming they can find some sort of meaningful internship work this coming summer, they still have at least a year’s more time for the economy to warm up again before they they need to find full-time work. And, the job market for today’s applicants (the Class of 2012) looks even rosier, assuming that a steady thaw continues.

For more advice on your own candidacy for MIT Sloan or any other top business school, call the MBA admissions experts at Veritas Prep at (800) 925-7737, and we’ll gladly give you an initial assessment of your candidacy!

Is Grad School the Last Resort for Generation Y?

Grad School Admissions
In an article on Forbes.com yesterday, Deb Weinstein reports that jobless grads are increasingly turning to grad school as a backup option in the face of dismal job prospects, even though some of their possible post-school job prospects are also disappearing.

As we’ve reported here before, both of the GRE and the GMAT have seen growth in the number of tests taken in the U.S. over the past year — 13% and 4.9%, respectively. (Some of that GRE growth may have come from more business schools increasingly accepting the GRE.) Even more impressively, the LSAT saw a 20% jump in the number of tests taken in 2009 vs. 2008. This comes while some big law firms are actually paying their new hires to take a year off.

But the growth doesn’t stop there. Even journalism schools have seen record numbers of applications this past year, even as the publishing industry has shed 90,000 jobs and more than 100 newspapers have shut down. Why would these people all rush back to school now?

The obvious answer is that, although their job prospects may not be especially bright when they graduate, these young grads would rather take their chances in the job market in two or three years, rather than now. Even if the job market isn’t significantly better in 2012, then at least these folks will come out of school armed with additional skills, certifications, and contacts, making their reentry into the job market a little easier (at least in theory).

Also, human nature steers us toward a “I’ll worry about it later” mentality — even if they don’t end up being any better off in a couple of years, at least getting into grad school will give these young people the luxury of being able to hide out on campus and not quite yet have to face the real world. Sometimes, especially when the economy is rough, this can be grad school’s biggest appeal (especially when Mom and Dad pay for it!).

If you’re thinking about graduate school and want more help in getting into business school, law school, or medical school, call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep admissions expert today!

In a Rough Job Market, Some Business Schools Fare Better than Others

Last week BusinessWeek ran an article titled “MBAs Confront a Savage Job Market,” which painted a pretty rough picture for many grads of top MBA programs. At some top business schools, as many as 20% of grads were still unemployed three months after graduation. Furthermore, according to BusinessWeek, 16.5% of job-seeking students from the top 30 MBA programs did not get even one offer within three months of graduation (compared to 5% for the Class of 2008).

Salary numbers also suggested that the job market for MBAs isn’t great: Starting pay was down from about $98,000 in 2008 to $96,500 this year. For many of the top-30 business schools, this is the first time since the the dot-com crash that salaries haven’t increased, adding to the evidence that this is truly a once-in-a-generation (or once-in-a-decade?) downturn.

Fortunately for some grads, though, the world of top-30 business schools is not universally gloomy. Some schools’ career offices have been able to direct their students into more stable industries, such as government, health care, energy, and the non-profit sector. While becoming a mid-level government bureaucrat may not quite hold the same appeal as being a six-figure-making banker, many grads have opened their eyes and realized that these sectors are where the jobs are right now, and are taking these jobs when they can.

In other cases, hiring did happen, although it happened later than it normally does. The Kellogg School of Management, for instance, reported that 85% of of its grads received at least one offer, although many students received offers late in the spring — months later than they normally would. (To learn more about the Kellogg School of Management, download our free Veritas Prep Kellogg Annual Report.)

Other top schools have also been able to weather the storm pretty well. BusinessWeek ranked the schools in terms of how well they’ve held up job-wise in the recession, with Yale, Washington University, HBS, Stanford, and MIT Sloan coming out on top. At Yale, for example, only 8% of grads were without any job offers three months after graduation, just two percentage points higher than a year ago. While not all of these placed grads ended up in the careers they envisioned when they first applied to business school, you can be sure that they’re glad to have jobs at all.

If you’re just now starting to research business schools, download our 15 free Veritas Prep Annual Reports. If you’re ready to craft your own winning application, call us at 800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!