3 Crucial Lessons for Women in Business

Women MBAAt a recent women’s leadership conference at Ross, dozens of women spoke about their experiences in business, the influential advice they have received, and the lessons they have learned over the years. Most of this advice is universal, but some is specific to women, as we often tend to face different challenges in the business world. Here are three important lessons I learned from this conference:

1. You have to let your manager know when you want to get promoted.
Of course, this will depend slightly on the company and its structure, but if your supervisor doesn’t know that you have the desire to move up in your company, someone else could get promoted ahead of you. Show interest in growing with the company by taking on more projects and vocalizing that you are eventually interested in moving up to Director, Partner, etc. If you have a good relationship with your supervisor, talk about the steps you should take early in your career to get closer to those positions when the time comes.

2. There’s no certainty about the future, so take what’s in front of you right now.
If you think you might want to start a family in the next year, don’t stop yourself from applying for a new position because you might have to go on leave after a few months. Take advantage of the opportunities you have because you never know what the future has in store. Perhaps your planned move to a different city doesn’t happen, or you and your partner decide you want to wait another few years before having a child. If you don’t take advantage of what comes your way, you might not have another opportunity for a while.

3. If everyone at work likes you, you’re not doing something right.
You need to approach your work with a business mindset and make the best decisions for the company. Sometimes those decisions won’t please everyone, and that is okay because you know that you are doing the best job you can to help your organization succeed. If everyone at work likes you, it probably means you aren’t pushing thought boundaries the way you should, so try walking the fine line of being friendly and tough as a woman in the workplace.

Sometimes it can be difficult to be a well-respected woman in business, and while this mindset may be changing, it isn’t changing as quickly as some of us would like it to. With this in mind, take charge of your professional life – let your boss know that you’re here for the long run and that you want to work your way up the ladder. Take advantage of the opportunities that you have, and stand by your decisions, even if they don’t please everyone in the office.

First though, you need to get into the business world, and what better way to do that than talk to a Veritas Prep admissions consultant? We can help you decide which MBA program is the best fit for you!

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.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

What Impact Will You Have on Your Dream School?

YaleThe business school application process is all about IMPACT – the impact you have made on the people and organizations you have worked with in the past, the impact you’ve made at the company you’re currently an employee of, and (most  often overlooked) the impact you will make on the student community at your target business school.

The Admissions Committee wants to know what you will take away from the MBA experience, and one thing that will help you stand out from the sea of other applicants is offering up your thoughts on what you will give to the student community. If you can vividly paint a picture of what campus life would be like with you as a student – in a positive and personalized fashion – it can add a very unique component to your application package. Let’s explore some ways to highlight the impact you will have on the MBA student community:

Personal Contributions
Business schools are looking to admit people – real people! So don’t be afraid to lean on how your unique qualities will manifest themselves on campus. Will you start a Basketball Club because you love the sport? Will you organize bake sales because it combines two of your passions: cooking and charity? Find your own personal secret sauce and figure out what value you can bring to the school. Keep in mind, your impact doesn’t have to be super lofty. If you are a natural motivator, there will be a place for you on campus when it comes to coursework, recruiting, and other aspects that will relate to improving the lives of others.

Cultural Contributions
Business schools embrace diversity in a big way. The changing makeup of campuses all over the world are a testament to this. As such, don’t hide from your culture or the diversity that you will bring to campus. Whether it is by helping others better understand your culture or bringing disparate groups of people together, think through what impact you will have on campus through culture. Involvement in global and affinity groups and other extra-curricular activities are another clear way to be engaged on campus.

Professional Contributions
Do you plan to bring your knowledge or network to support others on campus? Professional contributions are often the easiest to bring to bear, but also get consistently overlooked. Someone you might consider to be just a friend or coworker could be the integral piece to helping a classmate break into a difficult industry. Using your application package to show that you will offer access and opportunities to other students will showcase you as a selfless person and highlight the fact you truly get what a high-functioning MBA community is all about.

Control the narrative in your business school applications – don’t make the Admissions Committee guess what you would contribute as a student. Use the above tips and various application touch points to show how you will make a unique impact on campus at their school.

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.

How to Successfully Prioritize in Business School

ChecklistOnce you get to business school, you’re going to hit the ground sprinting. It’s like a tornado picked you up and is whirling you through school, almost literally. The best way to not get stuck in this tornado is to have strict priorities, and actually stick to them. It’s fine to not know exactly what you want to do when you graduate yet, but you should at least have a general idea. And if you can figure out specifically what your goals are before you get to campus, you’ll certainly benefit.

So, here’s how you can prioritize both before and during your time at business school:

1) Get really comfortable talking to people on the phone. The more phone calls you can have with current students and alumni, the better. These will be helpful in initially determining where you want to go to school, and eventually in determining what you should get involved with once you get to campus.

2) Set a list of 3 priorities for yourself. What do you really want to get out of your time at business school? These can include finding a post-MBA career, gaining Quant skills, making new friends, having a lot of fun, etc. Determine why you want to go to business school and make sure you’re sticking to your priorities while you’re there. These priorities could change from month to month. In August, maybe your priority is meeting as many of your classmates as possible. In November, maybe your priority is learning how to case for consulting interviews. Just continue to check in with yourself throughout the year and make sure you’re on track with your goals.

3) Do your research. Every MBA program will have a huge selection of clubs for you to choose from. Looking to get into real estate? There’s a club for that. Want to do business in Africa? There’s a club for that too. Once you know what your goals are, you can then find clubs that align with your interests. But remember, don’t get too distracted by the allure of the Ice Hockey Club (or any other club that doesn’t really relate to your goals) if it’s going to pull you away from your main priorities.

4) Figure out what time commitments you want to add to your class schedule, because class already requires a lot of effort, especially if you don’t come from a quantitative background. In addition to general club membership, you’ll have the opportunity to take on leadership positions in your first year of school. Do you want to be your section’s president? How about the VP of Career Development for your target club? Holding a leadership position like these will take up more of your time than general club membership will, so factor these potential time commitments in when you’re deciding which clubs to join.

5) Know what you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go into consulting, don’t waste your time on it. It’s really easy to get caught up in a sea of corporate presentations when all of your classmates are talking about really interesting companies, but if you know that you want to go into marketing, you probably don’t need to spend two hours at that BCG presentation with your consulting-focused classmates.

6) Determine a scheduling system that works for you. If you don’t use iCal or Google Calendar, etc., you might want to start. During your time at business school, there will be a lot of meetings, company presentations, study sessions, and social events that you’ll want to keep track of on the go. Make sure you have a way to remember everything so you don’t miss out on what’s important.

Before business school, I was very paper-oriented and I had a schedule written out almost daily. Now I almost exclusively use my iCal and sync it to my phone since I sometimes only have 5 minutes to get from one event to another, and it’s much easier to have my phone automatically tell me where to go than to have to pull out my paper planner.

Business school is only 2-3 years of your life. Make sure you’re prepared to take advantage of all of the resources that will be available to you, and be sure to make the most of it. Having priorities before you get to school will help you stay focused and on track for success. If you’re not sure what you want to go into yet, talk to the people at Veritas Prep – we’re here to help!

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.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

4 Reasons Why Business School is Awesome

MBA_GradsAre you on the fence about whether to apply to business school? If you are, you aren’t alone. Although the decision to pursue your MBA should not be taken lightly, if you can afford to take 2-3 years off from the working world, it’s my opinion that you should do it. Here are 4 reasons not to miss out on what will probably be one of the best experiences of your life:

1) Diversity
MBA programs are diverse both in geography and industry. At no other point in your life will you be in a classroom with 60-80 people who come from 20 different countries. The perspectives of your classmates are such an incredible resource for learning about how business works in other countries, and for gaining new perspectives on different industries.

Business school also gives you access to people who have worked in almost every industry. There may be people who are architects, engineers, teachers, and tech gurus all in the same class. In my class at Ross this year, 24% of the students are minorities, 40% are women, 4% hold military backgrounds, and 33 countries are represented.

2) Networking
This occurs both with companies and classmates. If you’re one of the many people who hears the word “networking” and immediately thinks, “That’s definitely not something I want to be doing right now,” just think of it as a conversation instead. You get to talk to people from industries you’re really interested in and learn what it is they love most about their careers, and why they do what they do.

Once you start asking people about interesting projects they’ve worked on, you really get a sense for their company culture, and how their company is structured. There might not be a better way to find out if you want to work for a company or not. Websites are great, but they can only tell you so much. At Ross, for instance, we have company-sponsored tailgates on football Saturdays – you can have some food with company representatives, and chat over a beer. These events can really help you get a feel for the company in a way that pure research can’t.

When you’re learning about the backgrounds of your classmates, it’s likely you’ll find one (or more!) who has experience doing exactly what you want to do. For example, I’m interested in going into international development consulting in Africa post-MBA, and one of my classmates did exactly that for 7 years prior to business school. This is also a great way to find out why some of your classmates are exiting the industry you want to go into – you can learn about potential drawbacks and decide if you want to go a different direction with your career. And, you get to have friends all over the world who you can stay with when you travel!

3) Success
Depending on the size of the program you attend, you’ll be building a community of 400-2,000 really close friends. During business school and beyond, these peers are going to make sure you succeed. You’ll be in small groups where everyone brings different expertise – where you lack in knowledge, they’ll help teach you and make sure you understand the concepts. It will be such an inspiring group of people to be around every day, and they will push you to be your best self. They’ll also make sure you’re successful after you graduate – if you’re looking for a job, they’re going to connect you with people in your target industry and make sure you aren’t looking for long. It truly is a lifelong support system.

4) Fun
Business school is REALLY fun. Even if you don’t go to a program that has big sporting events, there will still be a lot of events going on around campus and in the surrounding neighborhood: theatrical productions, local music shows, and more. Ann Arbor is unique because it is such a strong college town, but no matter where you end up, there will be campus events, and probably a fair amount of sponsored and unsponsored happy hours as well.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always liked school. It’s almost like a break from reality – you don’t really have to have a job, you can take naps in the afternoon, and you basically just get to hang out while learning awesome material. I know school isn’t for everyone, but business school is more than just school. You’re learning real-life skills with hands-on application, and creating a network of people who will forever be there to support you. At the very least, apply. You can always decide later if it’s not for you.

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.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

4 Factors to Discuss With Your Partner Before Applying to Business School

scottbloomdecisionsFor many, applying to business school is not just about attending the best school or landing the fanciest, highest-paying job. Other considerations should factor into the decision of which schools to apply to. For those with significant others, discussions about these considerations are important to surviving not only the business school application process, but also the two-year journey after you are admitted. Let’s discuss a few of the topics that should be considered with your significant other before applying:

1) Moving
One of the hardest decisions for many applicants to make is whether or not to move away from their partner when they go to business school. People are often very rooted in their current location for a variety of reasons, which may include proximity to family and friends, employment opportunities, or just general preference.

The decision to move is an important one, as business school can be an amazing shared experience for a couple to have, but will also a very hectic time for the student. Between attending classes and other school functions, spending time with their classmates and networking with recruiters, MBA students often have little time to spend with their significant others, even if their partners are local.

2) Finances
How are you paying for your MBA? Can your family or relationship last the financial pressures of one person being enrolled as a full-time student? These are just a few of the questions that should be discussed prior to making the leap to business school. Finances have always played a huge role in the vitality of relationships, and the additional stress a misalignment of income may cause during an already stressful period could have even worse implications.

3) Career Trajectory
Are you and your partner both aligned on the applicant’s post-MBA career path. This may seem like an innocuous issue, but all career paths are not created equal. Considering the historic reputations of certain career paths as being time intensive (such as investment banking and management consulting), make sure your partner is truly on board with your MBA journey. It is important for both parties to understand how things will change post-graduation and to make the proper decision based on this information.

4) Location
Spending two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts and spending two years in Palo Alto, California will lead to fairly different geographic experiences. From the weather to the culture to the food to distance from family, where you and your partner spend your two years during business school is an important consideration. Hash out your preferences early on to best set up your application strategy.

Applying to business school is a family decision and should be treated as such. So make sure you consider the above factors as you vet your decision to pursue an MBA.

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.

Where Should You Live During Business School?

apartmentYou’ve snagged that letter of admission to the school of your dreams and are getting ready to matriculate. Your deposit is sent in and you’ve already notified your employer of your decision to attend business school next year. Everything seems to be falling in place, except where you are actually going to spend those two years in business school. Choosing where you will live during this time can be a bit challenging, especially for students who have limited knowledge of the local renting and housing markets.

Before you begin the housing hunt, prioritize what is most important to you. Is close proximity to campus something that you desire, or would you rather have more access to social areas like bars and restaurants? Do you want to buy or rent? Are you planning to live alone or with other people? Starting from this point will allow you to be more discerning and efficient during your housing search.

The process of finding a new living arrangement does not need to be so complicated – let’s explore a few groups within your business school community that can help ease this decision:

MBA Program
Most MBA programs provide tons of support for entering students when it comes to housing, so leverage your school’s resources to help inform you during this process. Most schools will have an apartment tour during their admitted students weekend, and if you are attending, this should be a can’t-miss activity.

During these tours you’ll have the chance to visit multiple apartment complexes and talk directly with the proprietors as they address any questions you may have about their accommodations. Many of the proprietors will also offer discounts during these weekends, so if you are looking for a good deal on housing, this is a great time to broker one.

Current Students
Another great source of housing intel is current business school students. They understand what’s most important about where to live in the student community, which can really help the decision-making process for matriculating students. It is usually pretty easy to get in touch with second-year students once admitted, so utilize multiple students to help support your housing search.

Alumni
Another great source of housing information is alumni of the school. Alumni are generally the most passionate about MBA programs, and so are overwhelmingly willing to help out new students however they can. Pick their brains over some of the pros and cons of housing options in the area and learn more about the best places to live. Also, don’t limit your alumni outreach to just MBA grads – if you can get in contact with any undergraduate alumni, they often know even more about the surrounding community as they spent four years in the area as opposed to just two years like the average MBA student.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the housing search – utilize the resources above to help you make the best decision and find the perfect new home.

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 read more articles by him here.

3 Practical Life Lessons I Learned From My MBA

ProfessorDuring the last day of any MBA course, your professor will most likely say something along the lines of, “Years from now, if you can use one thing from my class, it would be…” Now I won’t be able to enumerate every single lesson I learned over my time at business school, but these lessons have become part of my mental toolkit, and always come to mind when I evaluate business odds or manage ambiguous human factors.

Here are three of the most useful life lessons that I became very aware of during my time in business school:

1) Build a buffer of time into your day
From my Operations Management course, I learned that in the manufacturing process, buffer zones or “slack time” are critical in ensuring that a delay in one part of production cannot easily cripple the whole chain. This concept has proven to be helpful now in managing day-to-day activities – rather than filling every hour of the day with minute tasks, it is more productive to identify key priorities and create some free time around them. This time can then be used to absorb tasks that unexpectedly take longer than you thought they would, or to spend as additional time for personal interests. Planning out the day like this can greatly reduce your stress and allow new ideas to ferment, making for a more productive and fulfilling life, long-term.

2) You can negotiate for more than you think
From my Negotiations course, I recall that I learned the most common error people make in their dealings is to take too many points as given or fixed and not even bother to try and negotiate them. Thus, they miss out on the potential to further benefit their own organization as well as the party they are negotiating with.

Being more aware of this tendency will encourage you to try negotiating for things you may not have tried for before, which will help open up more business opportunities and deepen your relationships with the people you work with. In addition, it is important to understand that the motivation of the person you are negotiating with is not always exactly the same as that of the unit he is representing, as this will help in the way you approach the conversation.

3) The creative process cannot be forced
In one of my Strategy classes, we discussed the creative process of Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega, best known for her 1987 hit “Luka,” which raised awareness for domestic violence. In this case study, the singer was encountering writer’s block as she was creating her new album and found that to do her best work, she couldn’t be forced to grind it out in the recording studio as many musical artists do – living life and drawing inspiration and stimulation from everyday encounters was the best way to go.

I have found this lesson to be very applicable as I help guide MBA candidates through their business school applications. Applicants tend to maintain their better balance in their lives by continuing with their exercise, hobbies, and vacations, even as they prepare for the GMAT and the business school application process as a whole. Living full, normal lives will keep you refreshed and inspired to work at your peak performance level, and to deliver your best work possible.

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.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.