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

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

How to Articulate Why You Need an MBA

SAT/ACTPast accomplishments, roles, and career goals tend to dominate the essays of the typical MBA applicant. These factors, alone, tend to take most essays over the word count, and as such, many applicants never actually share the reasons behind the paths they have taken or why they want to pursue an MBA in the first place (unless the essay prompt specifically asks).

Sharing your personal motivations, and the factors that have led to the decision to attend business school, is just as important as identifying your goals. It will help you convincingly show that aside from having the tools to succeed in business school, you also have the motivation to accomplish your post-MBA goals.

Articulating one’s personal motivations is not as easy as it sounds, however. In many cases, applicants feel like attending business school is just where life “took them”. What then are some specific steps to help you articulate why you need an MBA?

Memorable Events
Try recalling the highs and lows of your life, starting from childhood – these can include exciting personal triumphs, heartbreaking failures, and embarrassing mistakes. Such memorable events can  provide the Admissions Committee with great context as to why you want to pursue an MBA.

Turning points for your family – such as experiencing the sudden growth or collapse of the family business – can also be underlying incentives for wanting to attend business school. Highlighting the lessons that were learned from any of these experiences, and sharing how these particular events have helped guide your decisions and career, will help you take the Admissions Committee through your thinking and motivations.

Not only does this exercise help you express what drives you, but it also allows you to paint vivid pictures and present relatable details in your essays. All of these will help bring your application to life and make your overall profile more interesting to your readers.

Significant Feedback 
Another easy way to articulate your reasons for wanting an MBA is to remember the feedback you have received from past mentors, supervisors, or peers at work. Recalling this could help you explain why you got promoted or what allowed you to accomplish certain tasks at work, and can even help you identify areas for personal development than an MBA would help you achieve.

Articulating the feedback you have received from others will show the Admissions Committee that you are self-aware, receptive to constructive feedback, and able to plan your next steps clearly (including the step to achieve an MBA).

Epiphanies Experienced
Finally, recollect the experiences that opened your eyes to opportunities that you eventually took on during your career. These could include world travels, extracurricular activities, or work you did in a new or challenging environment that have led you down the MBA path.

For instance, I once worked with a Canadian applicant who shared how travelling to Latin America made him realize the continent’s promising potential for his business venture. Sharing this epiphany allowed the Admissions Committee to understand why he wanted to pursue a global MBA, and also displayed his open-mindedness, reinforcing the credibility of his claim that he would greatly benefit from the multi-cultural environment of business school.

The above steps are all good starting points, but to probe deeper, it would be beneficial to have someone who can help you ask yourself the right questions (perhaps a Veritas Prep Consultant?).

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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

Applying to Business School as an Entrepreneur

MBA AdmissionsFor the vast majority of business school applicants, pursuing an MBA is primarily about the opportunity to secure employment at their dream corporations. If you are one of the the ambitious few who are interested in entrepreneurship, your MBA dreams may align with incubating your own venture and forgoing the sanctity and security of the more traditional post-MBA career paths.

Applying to business school as an entrepreneur sets up a very specific set of considerations applicants should be aware of, however. Let’s discuss a few things that should be considered before applying to MBA programs as an entrepreneur:

Chances of Success:
How confident are you in the viability of your concept/business? Applying to business school as an entrepreneur is very risky from an application perspective. The Admissions Committee will surely scrutinize your plan and its potential for success, so it is important you have run a similar “stress test” on your concept or business.

Generally, business schools want to make sure their students are employed after graduation – an MBA who is not placed at a job at graduation (or 3 months after) can not only bring down the statistics of the school’s post-graduation employment report, but it can also cause that graduate to be an unhappy alumnus, which can lead to a negative perception of their MBA experience. As such, it will be best to make sure your entrepreneurial ambitions are clearly achievable, to both yourself and to the Admissions Committee.

Back-up Plan:
A high percentage of startup businesses fail. Do you have a contingency plan if your concept fails or if you just decide entrepreneurship is not for you? Schools will be looking to know that you have thought through all of the permutations and combinations of your decision. This can commonly manifest itself as an application question, essay prompt or an interview question, so have an answer ready that is well-thought-out and aligns with your past experiences.

Program Support:
Are you targeting MBA programs that have a track record of supporting entrepreneurship? The more your school is receptive to the challenges of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, the more well-received your application will be. Don’t think this makes your chances of admission much higher, as these schools are also looking to weed out those less committed to their goals. Also, some programs support entrepreneurs as alumni through funding and loan forgiveness, which could be advantageous during those lean early years of launching your business, and will be handy to keep in mind as you compile your list of target schools.

Timeline:
Does your timeline for diving into entrepreneurship make sense? Often, applicants will identify entrepreneurship as their short-term post-MBA goal. However, if the road map to starting your business appears a bit murky, shifting this short-term goal to the long-term may help make a better case for your profile. The Admissions Committee tends to be a bit more forgiving with long-term goals, given that so many things can happen before reaching them, but with short-term goals, the expectation is these should be highly achievable.

Applying to business school as an entrepreneur can be challenging, but can also represent a tremendous opportunity to pursue your dreams. Consider the above factors before you start your own application process.

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 FacebookYouTube, 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.

What You Can Learn from Zootopia About Setting Realistic MBA Goals

imgresZootopia, one of 2016’s top box office hits (grossing over $1 billion dollars), is an animated Disney movie showcasing impressive visuals, funny moments and a powerful theme of acceptance and inclusion. Seemingly a children’s movie, nods to iconic films and television shows such as The Godfather, Breaking Bad, and older Disney works prove to entertain the whole family.

In this entry, we will use this popular movie to illustrate how to strengthen one of the most important aspects of your MBA application: identifying your ambitious, but achievable, post-MBA goals.

Showcasing Your Achievements
Like many MBA applicants, Zootopia‘s main character, Judy Hopps, has excellent academic credentials (valedictorian of her class) and big goals. Judy also has an idealistic view of Zootopia (the city in which she lives), believing that anybody can be anything. Although she has initial success in becoming the first rabbit cop amongst heavyweight mammals (such as buffalo, rhinos, and elephants), she still faces many struggles in her career.

Lessons Learned:
As you write your MBA application essays, highlighting your various distinctions and achievements – including any barriers you have broken or obstacles you have encountered and surpassed (or hopped over) – will help showcase that you possess the ability, drive and perseverance necessary to achieve your future goals.

Ability to Overcome Challenges
The movie also deftly shows how Judy had to grow through prejudices and biases, both of others and of herself, while still keeping her idealism and her belief that she can make an impact on her anthropomorphic world. Seeing Judy win over the trust of her boss, who doubted her abilities to get the job done, makes us believe even more that she can achieve great things in the future.

Lessons Learned:
Sharing personal, vivid anecdotes of the struggles you have faced and how these challenges have helped you evolve and mature will make your business school application more compelling. Sharing your failures, weaknesses, and realizations will allow the Admissions Committee to understand and relate to you better. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect – nobody is!

Using your essays to showcase your self-awareness, how you have handled adversity, and how you have grown will make it more convincing that your post-MBA goals are not driven by blind idealism, but are grounded in reality and are actually achievable. For example, if your future goal requires working with regulators and big businesses across various industries to create social impact, it would be a good idea to share experiences of the similar challenges you have faced in the past, and how you have effectively collaborated with counterparts representing different agendas.

As you identify your bold post-MBA goals, show that you have the experiences, skills and expertise that are necessary to accomplish these goals.  Be sure to refer to specific episodes in your past that display your awareness of what happens on the ground, and that your path to your goal is based on a well-thought-out plan, with the next step being an MBA at your target program. You could also identify the unique benefits you would gain from an MBA at this particular program, enumerating the necessary steps to achieving your objectives.

Outlining these various details will help convince the Admissions Committee that you know what you are getting into, why you need an MBA, and how you will succeed after graduation.

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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

How to Break Into Consulting from a Non-Feeder MBA Program

MBA AdmissionsIs your post-MBA goal to enter the competitive field of consulting? If your future business school isn’t a consulting feeder school, don’t despair! Just because your MBA program is not a major feeder into the consulting company of your dreams does not mean that all hope is lost – this just means that you will have to be a bit more strategic and make the most of the more limited opportunities you have to network and interview.

Before we dive into our tips on how to break into consulting from non-feeder MBA programs, it is important to understand what constitutes a non-feeder program. The quick answer: a non-feeder program is a business school at which a specific consulting firm or many consulting firms do not utilize heavy recruiting resources to secure new talent. This can be by not participating in on-campus recruiting, not hiring in major numbers, only hiring locally, or not hiring at all. The employment report of your school should help you deduce the majority of this information.

Now, if you are in this situation, there are still a few ways you can approach the consulting recruiting process to maximize your chances at success:

Create a Plan
Being strategic is one of the most important factors that will help you be successfully hired by a consulting firm, especially if you’re coming from a non-feeder school. Your school’s employment report is your best friend here. Look first at the firms that are “low hanging fruit” – as in ones that already have somewhat of a presence at your school or in the nearby community – then research the other companies that will require much more leg work, and move accordingly.

Start Early
Given that your school is not a key source of talent for some of your target firms, you will need to work a little harder to get on their radar. Whether it is connecting with alumni or utilizing networks, such as a diversity network or your undergraduate network, start this process early because proper networking takes time. At feeder programs, these relationships often occur organically; at non-feeder programs, you will need to leverage your personal network and school resources to tap into these potential decision-makers.

Make the Most of Your Chances
You most likely will not have as many chances as a student from a feeder school to impress upon the firm-specific recruiting team of your qualifications, so it is critical you make the most of your opportunities to snag an offer. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, it is up to you to perform well in the interview process (if you are unable to secure an offer at that point, then it does not matter as much what program you come from). The case interview in consulting tends to be the great equalizer among applicants, so make the most of your chance, here.

Be Realistic
Finally, it is important to be realistic. Some firms simply will not recruit from a specific program for reasons out of your control, no matter how qualified you feel you are or how well you network. Part of going through the business school selection process is identifying (and hopefully gaining admission) to the schools that will allow you to reach your specific post-MBA career goals, especially if you have certain consulting firms in mind.

Consulting remains one of the most competitive industries to break into, regardless of which MBA program you attend. Utilize the tips above to maximize your chances of securing an offer from the consulting firm of your dreams.

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.

Applying Nassim Taleb’s Thoughts to Your Future Post-MBA Career

GMATNassim Taleb, the thought-provoking, bestselling author of Fooled by Randomness, Black Swan, and Antifragile, always pokes fun at MBAs, economists, and academic types. What then can we learn from him, given his seemingly evident contempt for the path you are planning to take? How can you use his own thoughts to your advantage towards achieving your post-MBA goals?

Have a Sense of Humor
Well, to put things in perspective, Taleb himself is a Wharton MBA and has served as a professor at NYU. So, the first lesson for everybody would be this: Don’t get too attached to titles and distinctions. Let’s have a sense of humor about ourselves!

Aside from allowing us to enjoy life more, having a sense of humor reduces our biases, making us more conscious of “unknown unknowns.” It also helps us keep our minds open to new experiences and ideas outside the defined “knowledge” in our specific fields.

Be Aware of the Problem with Experts
Taleb also humanizes “experts” – no matter how distinguished they may be in their fields, their error rates are higher than what you would expect. Thus, as you make your career-defining decisions, be sure to keep in mind what the downsides would be if the expert predictions you have relied on fail.

Credentials, jargon and expensive suits can make gurus, economists and military analysts look like real experts, even if they have poor track records of success or predictive abilities. Beware of relying blindly on these “empty suits” who can be anywhere, including CEOs, senior managers and classmates. With no exceptional ability to achieve results, “empty suits” focus on looking and sounding credible, rather than providing real substance. As an MBA, it would help you to develop both the ability to detect these “empty suits,” and still learn skills to effectively communicate with them.

By observing them closely, you can consider adopting the tactics they use that work (while avoiding what doesn’t work) and integrating them into your (hopefully!) sound reasoning and solid plans. This will help you better present your ideas and win people over to help achieve your projects’ objectives and your personal goals.

Domestication of Employees?
In an excerpt from Taleb’s work-in-progress book, Skin in the Game, he shares perspectives on the power structure between employers and employees.

Drawing from his personal experiences and observations, Taleb discusses the evolution of the “company person” into a “companies person”. As a high-potential employee, you will no longer be only concerned about your reputation within your own company, but the times now dictate that you will also want to be attractive to other companies in the event that you have to move on, whether by circumstances or by choice. Taleb argues that caring so much about this reputation and about performance evaluations by your direct superiors is a form of slavery.

Employees who have relocated with their entire families to remote outposts of their companies also fall into the trap of having their whole lives hanging by the whimsical thread of the boss at headquarters. Thus, they cannot be expected to make any radical decisions that could potentially displease their superiors. The employees with the most freedom are often salespeople – they don’t have to worry as much about pleasing their bosses as they hold the potential threat of taking customers with them if they move.

Knowing what you are getting into within the power structure of your role, organization and industry could help serve as an additional guide on how to handle your own expectations and how to plan for your next moves.

You may not completely agree with Taleb’s conclusions, but do consider his thoughts as you navigate your post-MBA career. Being aware of these concepts and lessons may just help your future professional life.

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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

Early Thoughts on UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Question

MBA@UNCApplication season at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 application essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach this year’s essay prompts:

 

Essay 1Please describe your short and long term goals post-MBA.
Explain how your professional experience has shaped these goals; why this career option appeals to you; and how you arrived at the decision that now is the time and the MBA is the appropriate degree? (500 words)
This is a very involved career goals essay, so you’ll want to make sure you compartmentalize each component of the prompt to ensure you are properly answering the question. 500 words is generally seen as a lengthy word count among the essays of other top business schools this year, but with all of the components in this essay, it is critical to stay concise with your response and move things along.

Addressing your response to this prompt via a relevant story that captures your passion for your desired career path is a great way to stand out while still informing the Admissions Committee of your post-MBA goals.

Essay 2: Optional
What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to UNC Kenan-Flagler? (300 words)
These questions can be difficult for many candidates to answer, but for an MBA application, candidates must be unafraid to highlight what makes them truly unique. Remember, unless you say it, the Admissions Committee will never know, so don’t be bashful here.

Focus on the “distinguish” aspect of the prompt to highlight not only what makes you unique, but also what you could potentially bring to campus. Try to avoid basic responses here – dig deep to think through your personal and professional strengths and connect them to UNC student life and what you could contribute to the Kenan-Flagler community.

Essay 3: Optional
If your standardized test scores are low, or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum (300 words)
Only answer this question if you realistically fall into this bucket. If your GMAT score is materially lower than the average score listed for Kenan-Flagler students, then the school would probably define you as a “low test score” recipient. If you have worked in an analytical function or plan to take pre-MBA coursework, this essay would be a good opportunity to highlight these aspects of your profile to address the potential red flag of your score.

Essay 4: Optional
Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? (300 words)
This is a more traditional optional essay, so only use it if it feels absolutely necessary (given that the school already has a few outlets to address typical optional essay topics). This essay tends to be a good area to show an aspect of your personality, passion, perspective or professional career that has not been discussed otherwise in your application.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Kenan-Flagler that should help you get started for this admissions season.

Applying to UNC or other business schools? 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.

Preparing the Perfect Package for Your MBA Application in 4 Steps

MBA AdmissionsYou have done all the hard work and put in the hours to get to this point. Your GPA, GMAT, work experience, and extracurricular activities are what they are. You have researched schools extensively, even visiting campuses and making an effort to connect with alumni. Now, it is about putting this all together into one application package that will determine whether you get to attend your dream school or not… no pressure.

Here are three ways you can prepare the perfect package for your target programs:

Selecting Stories
As you start sorting through potential ideas for your essays, list the interesting anecdotes that would best present you in a nutshell – think of these as scenes in a movie that would best capture the essence of the lead character. These can help you stand out through your interesting experiences and serve as attention-grabbers that captivate your audience. These stories could come from your personal life, professional accomplishments, or passions.

Recommenders can also add to this aspect of your application by relating specific stories about you that will help substantiate the qualities that you are highlighting. Powerful examples of your leadership and teamwork skills or ability to benefit from constructive criticism will greatly help. Thus, reminding your recommenders of these episodes in your relationship could come in handy.

Presenting Perspectives
Your application essays are also avenues that allow the Admissions Committee to understand where you come from, what motivates you, and where you want to go post-MBA. Sharing your unique upbringing, family values and inspirations will help present a more personal profile. This is not limited to just the positive events or outstanding accomplishments in your life, either – the challenges you have overcome or even the weaknesses you are still addressing also humanize you, making you more relatable so that the Admissions Committee wants to root for your success.

Sharing your personal story and challenging circumstances will also emphasize that you will be able to contribute to the classroom experiences of your future peers. In addition, use your interesting passions or talents that showcase surprising skills to also help you stand out among the other applicants, similar to the way football players singing and dancing to Beyonce’s music make for a memorable bit.

Tweaking the Tone
Apart from the theme and the great stories you choose to showcase in your application, fine-tuning the overall tone of your presentation can go a long way in delivering a powerful message. Having the perfect mix of displaying your strengths, humbly admitting your weaknesses, and showing fit between your target program and career goals is critical. However, be sure to show personal accountability for, and general reflection on, your failures as you plan your next steps – make sure your choice to pursue an MBA at this time in your life is displayed with clear purpose for the Admissions Committee.

Delivering these details with a personal tone and a positive vibe shows your ability to collaborate and be in sync with a select group of star performers as you apply for a coveted slot in a top-tier program.

Fitting Finale
Take some care to end your application on a positive note, carefully considering the last impression you want to make, just as the last song of a musical has to be well thought-out and excellently executed to deliver a fitting finale.

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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

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:

Location:
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.

Important Admissions Insights from the 2016 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey

AIGACAIGAC (the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) presented insights from its survey of recent MBA applicants and graduates at their annual conference last month. On your own business school application journey, knowing the trends below may help you know what your peers are thinking and better inform your choices:

Let’s look at some of the most interesting findings this study presented:

School Selections Impacted by Cost-Consciousness
41% of MBA applicants in this study indicated that affordability affected their final school choices, while 21% factored program cost and access to financial aid into creating their lists of target schools.

Related to this, applicants this year showed more of an openness to business school options other than the traditional two-year MBA program than they had in the past. This could be because these options reduce opportunity costs of the time away from employment prospects. The study also showed applicants’ interest in shorter full-time MBA programs (less than 2 years) jumped significantly from 33% in 2015 to 40% in 2016.

Reputation (Ranking) Still Matters Most
Although affordability has become an increasingly considered factor in the application process – with 30% of survey respondents including net costs in their school evaluations – an MBA program’s ranking is still the most influential aspect in deciding where to apply, with 74% of respondents factoring this into their school choice.

Other major school factors applicants considered in the application process were impact on career (48%), city/geographic location of the program (46%), and school culture (38%).

Optimism on Post-MBA Career
MBA applicants remained optimistic with their post-MBA prospects this year, with 41% of respondents expecting salary increases of greater than 50% within 6 months after completing their business school education.

The most popular post-MBA target career paths for applicants remain Consulting, Finance/Accounting, and Technology. The AIGAC report also shared actual post-MBA career trends, which showed a declining number of graduates going into Finance (from 43% in 2007 to 29% in 2013), while those going into Technology more than doubled (from 8% in 2007 to 17% in 2013).

Engaging Help for the Competitive Application Process
Realizing how competitive the MBA application process is, many applicants are tapping multiple sources of support. Top support systems are friends (44%), professional admissions consultants (39%), and family (30%). Only 17% of applicants reported going through the entire process with help from “no one”.

These findings show that applicants are realizing the benefits of gaining additional business school insights and wider perspectives as they compete for the coveted spots at the top MBA programs. Although the decision of where to ultimately pursue your MBA should, of course, be your own, hopefully this information can better inform your application process and help you determine some factors to consider when choosing a business school.

For more details about the 2016 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey, please see AIGAC’s White Paper or slide presentation.

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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

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.

Should You Wait One More Year to Apply to Business School?

stopwatch“Should I wait another year?” This is a common question among many MBA aspirants. On the one hand, you are raring to achieve the goals that have inspired you to consider business school in the first place; on the other, however, you are wondering how much another year of preparing and additional experiences might help your admissions chances. And of course, your other life priorities – such as personal and family relationships – are also major considerations.

You may find yourself feeling impatient with the desire to move forward, while battling your nerves to leave your current path and start anew. Managing your emotions to think clearly and objectively is important in making this critical decision. (Treat this also as good practice for more life-changing and career-defining decisions later on.)

So, what should you consider in deciding whether or not to wait one more year before applying to business school?

1) Reflection on Personal Goals
Many applicants, especially younger ones, are unsure of their current paths, and thus, they pursue business school as a chance to open up potential career opportunities. However, you would do well to learn more about the possibilities that will actually be available to you post-MBA before applying.

How realistic are your target goals given your background, interests, and skills? Is this really the job that you want to hold long-term? Taking the time to answer these questions by researching, networking, and reflecting on yourself could go a long way in making the most out of the time, money, and effort you will be investing in your MBA plans. Afterwards, if you still feel uncertain, it would be best not to rush into applying to business school.

2) Improving Your GMAT Score
Candidates whose GMAT scores are way below their target school’s average need to reconsider retaking the GMAT if they want to increase their odds of acceptance. Depending on your assessment of how much higher you can score, and the amount of time needed (and available) for studying, waiting one more year to try and score closer to the school’s average could be a good reason to defer your application.

3) Accelerating Personal Development
What does your next year look like if you don’t go to business school? Would there be great opportunities to take on large-scale responsibilities at work? Or unique experiences to gain? Or a potential promotion to earn?

If the answer to any of these is “Yes!” then it could be worth it to stay another year, as these possibilities can fast-track your career and development. They might also result in stronger recommendation letters from your superiors or cement your reputation as a high potential executive in your company or industry – all factors that the Admissions Committee will notice when reviewing your future application. And depending on where you work, this may even lead to your company offering sponsorship for your MBA when you decide to pursue it later.

Weigh all of these considerations carefully, as they could affect not only your chances at achieving your MBA, but also your future career prospects afterwards.

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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

From the Family Business to Business School (and Back)

Awkward Family Photo - Summer“You’re going back to the family business?” 

If you’re planning to attend business school with the ultimate intent of working for your family’s business, some of your friends will probably wonder why you would consider pursuing an MBA when they feel that a clear path has already been (very well) paved for you with the power, privilege, and prestige of your family’s business handed to you on a silver platter. Some will envy you, some will resent you, and even more will wonder if you really need an MBA, while you yourself doubt how stating this post-MBA goal will affect your odds of admission.

Interestingly, articulating your personal story towards convince your friends of this decision may also be the same formula towards strengthening your case to getting admitted to your target schools. Let’s examine three ways you can best explain to the Admissions Committee your plans to go from your family’s business to business school, and back:

1) Win Admiration from Peers
Displaying your competence through your strong academic and job accomplishments, demonstrating your character through your work ethic and values, or showcasing how you have gotten involved with interesting and worthwhile activities will help show you as someone who can make it on their own. In turn, this display of independence – that you don’t completely rely on your family to succeed – will work  towards winning admiration and respect from your peers, and even your subordinates.

Imagine, sometime in the near future (perhaps your late 20’s or early 30’s), being introduced as the new General Manager of your family’s business. Some whispers from your employees would surely be, “She’s the daughter of the boss, that’s why…” From your side, you would want them to also recognize how you have also excelled outside of the family business environment, whether it is at another company, or towards a specific social cause or interest. Similarly, explaining this desire to find your own success, independent of your family, will be a great way to explain your MBA aspirations to the Admissions Committee.

2) Acknowledge Your Good Fortune
In discussing your history in relation to your family’s business, you would do well to be grateful for the circumstances you have been blessed with. This gratitude will serve as a good point to highlight the knowledge, exposure and network you are equipped with – attractive qualities that can benefit your future business school community, as well.

Mentioning specifics about your family’s business to demonstrate its scale and potential impact not only shows your awareness and interest in the business, but also helps the Admissions Committee realize the impact you can make in the business world. Providing details on the products this company provides, or on its business model, will also help them visualize what you are involved with now, and how it can influence you as a future MBA.

3) Articulate Your Passion
Tell the Admissions Committee what you are excited to do after business school, such as leading the entry into a new market, launching a product line, building a distribution channel, or formulating new company plans. You can also share the challenges your family’s business is currently facing – perhaps it is the need to modernize its systems and processes, or its struggle with the more personal aspects of succession planning or even family politics. Showing your focus and drive to achieve these specific post-MBA objectives – and explaining how attending business school will help you attain these goals – will further demonstrate your substance and maturity.

Relate these future plans and current challenges to your need for an MBA at your specific school of interest by identifying exactly what you aim to gain at their program and how you plan to bring it back to your family’s business. Doing this will help convince the Admission Committee that you are the right fit for their program and deserving of a spot.

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.

How to Answer the “Post-MBA Goal” Question in 3 Steps

GoalsOne daunting, yet common question every business school candidate must answer at some point during the MBA application process is, “What are your post-MBA goals?”

In many cases, applicants do not have a concrete answer to this question – they just know that they don’t like where they currently are, but do not have clear post-MBA goals in mind. This kind of applicant will usually answer this question with something like, “I’ll explore my options during the program and go from there.”

While this is understandable, answering the question in this way could make the applicant come across as being unfocused, and doubts would arise as to whether the applicant has thought about his or her MBA goals properly. In these cases, it would be better for applicants to research likely post-MBA career paths with respect to their experiences and interests. This will allow them to state realistic post-MBA options, while also explicitly showing fit with the business schools they are interested in.

All things equal (as Econ professors love to say), identifying specifics will be the best way to go when discussing your future plans. Let’s examine 3 ways you can better define your post-business school goals to the Admissions committee:

1) Identify Career Fit with Your Personal Background
You would want to identify a goal that an MBA can help you achieve – that investing in a particular business school will create real value for you. In line with this, the Admissions Committee will evaluate how worthwhile and realistic your goal is given your previous experiences, current skill set, and potential future path with the school. This could include your academic potential, international exposure, work experiences, network, and personal passions.

Highlighting your unique qualities, track record of accomplishments, and resources you can leverage to make your future goals a reality is part of convincing the Admissions Committee of the feasibility of your post-MBA goal.

2) Showcase Your Knowledge of the Job Market
Identifying potential roles and the target market for yourself post-MBA, in the same way you would if you were creating a business plan for a new entrepreneurial venture, would clearly show the feasibility of your MBA plans. Matching your selling points in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences with the job market will be part of this process.

If possible, identify specific roles, companies, industries, and locations that are an ideal match for you – reaching out to people who have gone down a similar career path to the one you are interested in would help you determine if that particular track and the day-to-day realities that they experience match with your vision.

3) Emphasize Your Interest in This MBA Program
Finally, demonstrating keen interest in a particular MBA program by identifying how its culture, courses and clubs would fit your goals communicates a well-thought out plan. This will show the Admissions Committee that you took time to genuinely reflect on your personal development and what their unique school has to offer. Your interest will also help convince Admissions that you will readily accept a slot into their MBA program, if offered one.

With these tips in mind, be sure to invest your time and effort in researching the specifics of your target MBA programs and demonstrate that you have done so. If you are not yet confident in your answer to the post-MBA goal question, now is a great time to reflect and research – not only will a great answer to this question it strengthen your MBA application chances, but it will also give you clarity on the next stage of your life.

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.