Four Steps to Defining Your MBA Goal

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Top MBA programs are looking for applicants who have a clear idea of how a business degree will help shape their future.

This is why the MBA goals essay is such an important piece of your b-school application.

But how do you write a goals essay if you’re unsure of your post-MBA goals? What if you are changing careers and know you want to obtain the skills provided by a business program, but aren’t sure which career direction you want to pursue after your degree? Should you spend time looking into post-MBA options (trying out different jobs or shadowing people in different careers) so that you can submit your application with a secure MBA goal, or is it better to enter a program with undefined goals?

Your post-MBA goals should guide you in the application process – at the very least in deciding where to apply. Not only is it worthwhile spending time finalizing a post-MBA direction, it’s required. You need to know why you want to spend a large amount of your time and money before you apply. Not knowing what your post MBA-goals are could turn your MBA investment into a huge debt with no job to pay it off. Think of your goals as a weathervane – if it’s broken, it spins uselessly in the wind, but when working properly, it points you in the right direction.

The following 4 steps will help you define your MBA goals:

  1. Think about what you like and dislike about your current and past jobs. Compile a list of what you’d like more of and what you’d like less of.
  2. Talk to people in jobs that appeal to you. Organize informal interviews or email a list of questions to people you know who have positions that you find attractive.
  3. Think about hiring a career counselor. This short-term investment will pay off when you are able to get into the b-school you want, and land your dream job after graduation.
  4. Once you have a better idea of your direction, take a look at the career listings of the bigger employers in those fields. Check out profiles of some of the recent MBAs hired by these companies and see if you can arrange to speak to someone in the positions that appeal to you.

Not having clear goals will leave admissions officers wondering why you’re putting in the time, effort, and money to obtain an MBA. They will also be concerned that you won’t be able to find an internship, or eventually a full-time job because you don’t know what you want to do. But don’t worry – admissions officers also recognize that your goals may change over the course of your MBA program. It’s okay to be flexible, but not clueless.

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This article was originally published on The MBA Tour. 

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