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

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

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. 

Why Go to Business School: The Benefits of an MBA

Columbia UniversityWhy business school? This is a question encountered by many ambitious people who decide to pursue a master’s degree. Individuals in an MBA program take courses that deepen their knowledge of accounting, marketing, management, and finance. They also take classes that improve their leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Acquiring this advanced level of knowledge and earning an MBA benefits a professional in the business world in a variety of ways. Check out some of the specific benefits of an MBA degree:

Gain More In-Depth Knowledge of Business
Why go to business school? In addition to expanding their knowledge of accounting, management, and other basic business practices, students who earn an MBA can specialize their degree. For instance, a professional who wants to achieve greater success in a public relations career can earn an MBA with a focus on that particular discipline. Other examples of MBA specialties include Internet marketing, hospitality management, and sports management. A student who earns an MBA walks away with a deeper understanding of their particular field of work.

Earn a Higher Salary
One of the most appealing benefits of an MBA is that it can lead to a higher salary. Someone with this advanced degree has a greater understanding of business practices than someone who possesses only an undergraduate degree. A person with an MBA has specialized skills and knowledge that can benefit a company’s bottom line.

Business schools have a number of requirements that applicants must fulfill. For one, they need to see a student’s scores on the GRE, the GMAT, or both. At Veritas Prep, we provide in-person and online instruction to prepare students for the GRE. We also help students study for the GMAT. Students learn tips and strategies from experienced instructors who have taken these tests with great success! Our tutors use excellent study resources and materials to provide students with first-rate instruction.

Establish Relationships and Garner Contacts
One of the most notable benefits of business school is the opportunity to establish relationships with other business professionals. While earning this advanced degree, students work with individuals like themselves who are likely to achieve tremendous success in their field. These relationships can continue to grow after graduation, proving helpful to an individual as they pursue success in business. Plus, students learn from professors who have relationships with executives in the business world. After graduation, a student may be able to get a recommendation from a professor or get a valuable lead on an open position with a growing company.

Often, well-known executives speak to classes of MBA students. They share their experiences and advice on how to accomplish career goals. Talking with a visiting executive gives a student another opportunity to establish a connection with a business professional that could prove useful later on.

Rise Higher in a Particular Field
Why go to business school? This is a question heard by many business professionals who decide to go back to school after working in their field for several years. One of the benefits of business school is that it gives graduates the knowledge and training they need to rise higher in their profession. They may feel that they have gone as far as they can with just an undergraduate degree in business and they need more skills to make further progress toward their career goals. For instance, a professional who has worked in the marketing department of a company for ten years might decide to earn an MBA with a specialty in Internet marketing. This could prepare them for a promotion to a higher position within the department.

Start a Business
Why business school for an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur who earns an MBA is more prepared for the challenges of starting a business. In fact, a student going through an MBA program can specialize the degree to focus on entrepreneurship. An MBA student specializing in entrepreneurship studies topics such as entrepreneurial finance, technology, and recognizing opportunities that will help a new business to grow. An entrepreneur armed with this knowledge is increasing their chances of success as a business owner.

At Veritas Prep, we assist individuals as they progress on the path toward gaining admission into a preferred business school. Contact our offices today to learn more about our test prep options.

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, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

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. 

Does Your GMAT Score Matter Once You’re Admitted Into Business School?

08fba0fOne of the most anxiety-inducing and nerve-wracking aspects of the MBA application process for many candidates is the GMAT. Whether it is preparing for the exam, actually taking the test, or wondering if your score is high enough and your Verbal/Quant splits are well-balanced, the GMAT can drive you crazy. However, once applicants are able to break through and secure admission into their target programs, one would think all of this GMAT stress is behind them, right?

Unfortunately, not exactly. For most students, the GMAT is, in fact, a thing of the past and they can breathe easy and move on from those dreaded four letters after business school begins. For some students, however, their GMAT score can still represent an important measure of aptitude even past the MBA application process and matriculation.

Let us focus on these students who must still concern themselves with their GMAT scores. The GMAT is really only relevant for recruiting purposes at this point, and only in a select few industries that tend to put a heavy weight on analytical skills and “intellectual horsepower.”

The most common industry recruiters that fit the bill here are management consulting firms like the Boston Consulting Group, financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, and prestigious tech companies like Google. These specific firms are just used for representative purposes, but many similar companies use the GMAT as a key decision point when selecting students for interviews, and also when making their final decisions in on-campus hiring. Therefore, it is important to do your due diligence and discuss with the recruiting firms you are interested in the components that factor into their decision-making processes.

Generally, companies that put an emphasis on the GMAT are looking for you to break a threshold. So it is not simply “the higher score you get, the better your chances.” The standard tends to be at the 700 mark – if your score is below this threshold, your chances at securing an interview or an offer at these firms may be a bit more difficult. Although again (I cannot emphasize this enough), every firm has a different value system towards the GMAT and you will often never truly know how much of a factor it plays within the recruiting process, but it is still important to keep in mind that it is a factor.

Information is king! Do your due diligence upfront in the recruiting process, understand the strengths and weakness of your profile, and be knowledgeable of how factors like the GMAT may play a role during on-campus recruiting.

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.

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.

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.

A Snapshot of the U.S. Academic Visa Process

ChecklistFor many international students, the hardest part of pursuing a graduate education in business in the United States is not just gaining admission to an MBA program, but also ensuring, from a legal perspective, they have the right to study in the U.S.  Keep in mind, the following information is focused primarily on the U.S. academic visa process – if you are pursuing your MBA in a different country, such as France or the United Kingdom, please review those country-specific rules and regulations.

Now that we have those particulars out of the way, following your admission to business school, you should immediately begin the visa process to ensure a smooth transition once it is time to begin your MBA studies.

The United States student visa is called the F-1. Once you have secured, and formally accepted, an admissions offer from the business school you will be matriculating to, your MBA program should send you an I-20 form that is required for your academic visa (F-1) submission. After completing this form, you will need to submit it along with the necessary supplementary documents (including a valid passport and photograph), pay a monetary fee, and complete an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy.

If you have a spouse, your student visa will provide clearance for them to stay in the U.S. while you are a student as well, however, they will still need to go through the F-2 visa process, which establishes kinship of the spouse to the matriculating student. Keep in mind, the accompanying spouse will not be allowed to work or become a full-time student with this visa, but can still pursue part-time coursework (as long as it does not exceed 12 hours per week).

One of the more challenging aspects of the F-1 are its work restrictions – the student visa does allow students to work up to 20 hours per week and up to 40 hours per week during vacations (like during summer internships) but approvals or sponsorships from an employer will be needed in order to work outside of that.

This knowledge is especially relevant for an applicant’s post-MBA work goals – after completing an MBA under the student visa, students must leave the country within 60 days. At this point, a recently-graduated student who is interested in remaining in the United States must secure sponsorship from an employer via the H-1B Visa.

Don’t misstep as you transition to attending business school in the U.S. – get your student visa process started early and make the most of your time before matriculation.

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.

The Challenges of Obtaining an International Work Visa Post-MBA

MBA Admissions ConsultantFor many international students, the joy of graduating from a top MBA program in the United States can quickly turn into the pain of figuring out how to stay in the country. Like many other nations, the U.S. has a stringent and cumbersome work visa process for graduating MBAs that makes it difficult for international students to take full advantage of their new degrees.

After completing an MBA in the United States under the F-1 student visa, international students must leave the country within 60 days. At this point, students interested in remaining in the country must secure sponsorship from an employer via the H-1B visa – this visa will allow the recipient to work in the U.S. for up to three years, with the option for potential renewal of an additional three years.

Despite the rise of international students in U.S. MBA programs, however, the amount of distributed work visas has remained unchanged, even in the face of this growth.

In recent years, this process has become even more difficult, with less companies willing to offer international MBAs the highly coveted work visa, and an increasingly stringent lottery system. This past year, the aforementioned lottery allotted just 85,000 H-1B work visas for an estimated 230,000 applicants. This frustrating end to a business school student’s time in the states can be a major contrast to the optimistic beginning of their MBA journey.

Given these challenges, it is critical for international students to understand the likelihood of being able to secure employer sponsorship following business school. This is particularly important, given that these students may be returning to home economies that are not as robust as that of the U.S., resulting in lower salaries and a reduced return on investment on their MBA degrees.

The discussion on this issue has elevated to the political sphere, with conversations surrounding whether or not the work visa system should be overhauled. This will likely be a hot button topic for many years to come, and hopefully, the resolution balances the needs of international students with the U.S. economy.

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.

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.

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.