Almost every MBA application devotes at least one essay to your goals. That’s the point of an MBA, right? To help you get where you’re trying to go? Because of this, knowing your goals (and having good ones!) is one of the most important aspects of an MBA application.
MBAs are looking to see whether you’re the type of person with enough ambition to strive to make a difference in your field, but also the type who’s thoughtful enough to have considered a goal that’s feasible based on your past experiences and one aligns with your actual skill set (meaning, not “save the world.”) It’s a tricky balance to strike between dreaming big and being practical, which is why most applications ask you to break your goal into two parts:
Long-term goal – where you ultimately see your career heading, and
Short-term goal – what you plan to do in the years immediately following your MBA, or between graduation and tackling your long-term goal.
The long-term goal is the place to dream big and show your ambition (within reason, of course,) and the short-term goal is where you show that you have a solid understanding of the kind of step-wise processes that will get you from point A (where you are) to point B (your ultimate ambition.) It might seem pretty simple from this vantage point, but there are some common errors applicants make when explaining their desired future trajectory to an adcom.
>>>> Recommended Reading: Crafting Sharp MBA Goals
The long-term goal is actually pretty straightforward. The main way a long-term goal fails is when it doesn’t feel substantiated by the rest of the essay. If you use your introduction to really showcase your passion for your field, and you make the adcom feel that you are committed to this field, you can really dream big in your long-term goal and remain believable. The best approach to discussing your long-term goal is to frame it as the solution to a burning problem that you are set to solve. That way the goal doesn’t seem dreamed up on a whim. Instead, it seems like you’ve thought long and hard about a PROBLEM that means a lot to you, and that you’ve come up with something that you think could FIX this problem. If your stated goal is a solution to a problem you care about, it’s always going to seem right.
The short-term goal is a lot trickier, mostly because so many MBA alumni end up working for a big corporation like McKinsey or Goldman Sachs. There’s nothing that looks more disingenuous than saying your long-term goal is solving the poverty issue in a developing country and having your short-term be to work as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch. Here, CONSISTENCY is important. Even if you actually might go work in a giant bank after your MBA, you need to make sure that your short-term goal reads as an important step TOWARD your long-term goal. Think about the MBA as a place in which you will acquire skills that you need for your long-term goal, but before you can utilize those skills, you need to put them to the test. Your short-term goal as a practice ground on which you can gain practical experience utilizing the lessons learned in your MBA before actually using them to solve the problem you set as your long-term goal. If you think about it this way, your short-term goal will always align with your long-term goal, and your MBA becomes an inevitable link in the chain toward them both.
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