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29July2017

What are ‘MBA Goals’ and Why Do They Matter?

by The Red Pen

What are ‘MBA Goals’ and Why Do They Matter?

Strange as it might sound, one of the things that really stumps MBA candidates, when they work on their business school applications, are questions focused on their career and personal goals. More than one applicant has been surprised, and a little overwhelmed, when they realize that a core part of their MBA application is the articulation of clear, well-considered short and long-term goals.

If the underlying premise of every business school application is an argument for “Why MBA, Why Now”, then your goals are going to be a vital part of your application. Business schools see your goals as the best argument for why you need to pursue an MBA at all. The lack of a strong, logical and understandable goal trajectory can severely impact your chances of being seriously considered at your target schools. Additionally, knowing your goals helps you pick programs that align with your profile and aspirations and thus are a good fit for you.

Take the time early in in the process to clearly and cogently articulate a reasonable, realistic goal statement. But how do you formulate strong goal statements?  You can start by sorting out your short and long term goals.

In terms of your short-term goals, the way to formulate these is to start with specific, realistic ideas based on your current set of experiences and pre-MBA work trajectory. Specificity is the key to this argument. Vague statements like “I want to switch from finance to FinTech” or “I want to go into consulting” or “I plan to start my own company” don’t make a strong argument, because they are quite broad.

Instead, start with your current role, and envision what would be a next step beyond it, thinking about industry and function. For example, maybe you want to stay in the industry but jump a level, describe that jump and the key differences you foresee. Or perhaps you want to use your existing skills to shift industries, applying your current abilities in a new space. Discussing the geography of your choices, your motivation for wanting to make them, the impact you hope to have on the industry or the company you plan to join, all make your short-term goal more specific and believable.

Your long-term goals can be less specific, but they should build on your short-term goals and your long-term interests and aspirations. Your goal trajectory should be ambitious, but possible, and reveal both your interests and a certain amount of industry knowledge or awareness of what is happening in your desired sector.

What happens if my goals change? Of course, the reality is that many MBA graduates end up doing something different from their application goal statement. So you might ask yourself, well, why does it matter if it’s all going to change anyway? Trust us, it does!

MBA programs aren’t going to revoke your diploma if you end up doing something different; they expect that your goals might change, but they still want strong goal statements. Your ability to think logically and build an argument for your future game plan is a valuable and transferable skill that you can use time and again even if your goals change. Your goal statement also gives you a sense of direction when applying for internships and speaking with professionals who visit your campus. You want to demonstrate clarity of thought, representing yourself as someone with vision and a plan.

Being able to formulate goals is also a kind of litmus test for you to indicate to yourself if you really need an MBA or not. Applicants who can’t make a strong career goal statement are rarely applicants who can prove that they really need an MBA, and it might be time to re-evaluate the decision to apply to business school at all.

It might seem hard, or like a lot of work, but we promise taking the time to do this early will pay off throughout your application process, and beyond.

 

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