Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
We believe that asking MBA candidates about their goals is plainly absurd, because so many students change their goals while they are in school. Further, an MBA supposed to be about career development and exploration, right? Regardless of how we feel on the subject, though, during a time when the economy is down and many firms are cutting back on their MBA hiring, you must ensure that (if a school asks via its essay questions or an interview) you have a compelling story about where you believe your MBA will take you. Two years ago, getting a banking job may have sounded compelling to you. Are you really capable of making that transition today? Certainly, fewer jobs are available now in the real estate world. Is this a likely next step for you during a prolonged real estate drought? Venture capital and private equity jobs are challenging to land even during the best of times—are you able to compete with the elite during a downturn?
These are just a few examples of questions you should honestly ask yourself. Keep in mind that not only are MBA admissions committees examining your story to determine whether you would add something unique to the class, but if you are a borderline case, they will also likely send your profile to the career services office to help confirm whether your stated goals are realistic and you won’t be difficult to place by or after graduation (i.e., that you will not hinder the school’s employment stats and thereby negatively affect its standing in the rankings). So, pay special attention to your goal statements and make sure that you can credibly stand behind them—and, as we have written in the past, even consider preparing to discuss some alternate goals.