A big reason many apply for an MBA is to surround themselves with the best and brightest – a group of ambitious peers who are going places, who can help you explore your interests, further your professional ambitions and help you reach them.
The idea of a network is never more important than in an MBA program, as who you meet there will likely end up being far more important to your future success that what you learn in the classroom. It’s therefore understandable that nearly every applicant mentions their peers as a reason for applying for a particular MBA program. Learning and growing from a group of “like-minded peers” or from a “diverse network” is certainly a valid reason for pursing an MBA, but if you’re not careful, the sentences you devote to this idea in your essay can end up feeling too generic to leave an impact on your reader. At worst, it can sound like you’re using the term “network” as a buzzword instead of a genuine goal for your MBA experience. Is there a way to talk about the network you’ll form during your MBA and make it sound not only genuine, but also fresh?
In short, yes. Absolutely. And the key to doing so lies in actually delving into why you’re seeking this network. If you throw in the idea of forming a network at the bottom of a long list of reasons for why you’re applying to an MBA, it’s of course not going to make much of a mark. But if networking is actually a major factor in your decision to make this major life change, then it’s worth devoting some word-count toward it. If you’ve worked in the same industry for a number of years, the types of people you get to connect with can become quite limited.
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Think back to your college days – maybe you were inspired to think differently about the world because you met someone with a totally different background than yours? Maybe you had a professional success after learning to approach a problem differently due to an experience with someone who had a different perspective than yours? These are examples of how experiencing a diverse network has positively impacted you, and you can use them as evidence for why a diverse peer group matters to you! In this way, instead of just saying that you want to grow your network, you can SHOW the adcom why your past experiences have made having a diverse network important to you, thereby making your claim all the stronger.
Another route is to think of your professional goals. Do you have a goal that could use some teammates? Specifically, teammates who can bring a wide array of skills to the table? If so, you can absolutely substantiate your reason for wanting to grow your network by claiming how it will actually help you going forward!
Forming a stronger network is a totally valid reason to seek out an MBA; so, if it’s one of your reasons, don’t be afraid to delve into why in your applications. You might think it’s a given and therefore doesn’t need to be stated, but it’s not a given if you have an actual reason for it. That reason might be philosophical, educational, or practical to your goals, but delving into why will help you to stand out and avoid sounding like you’re ticking off a buzzword from a list.
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