Communicating Your Need For An MBA
November 19, 2018 :: Jacob Allison
Pursuing an MBA is a gateway to career advancement and job opportunities that simply aren’t available to non-MBA holders, and an essential part of a successful MBA application is clearly communicating to adcoms why you need an MBA to make that next career step.
These “skills gaps” that the MBA is going to help you fill need to be communicated to adcoms in as much detail as possible. Below are three of the most common skills gaps that applicants identify, and some common pitfalls that you can avoid when approaching this part of your MBA application essays.
Leadership is probably the most common thing that applicants are looking to develop through their MBA experience. However, simply saying “In order to become a Product Manager at Amazon, I need to develop leadership skills” isn’t going to cut it with adcoms that are looking for applicants with super detailed plans for success.
What kinds of leadership skills do you need?
Start by thinking about your post-graduation goals. If you want to work in product management at Amazon, then you probably will want to gain some experience leading highly technical teams towards a common goal during your MBA experience. You might be able to do that through a school-sponsored incubator program like Wharton’s VIP-C. See what we did there? By digging deeper into a specific skills gap, we’ve strengthened the argument for why you need an MBA, and discovered a school-specific resource you can address later in the essay.
Another super common skills gap we get from clients who are looking to go into management consulting after graduation is the generic “consulting skills.” The problem with this one is that the adcom already knows you need consulting skills to become a consultant. What they want to find out is if YOU know what consulting skills are, and that you’ve identified the specific consulting skills you’ll need to be a successful graduate of their program. Wanna work in McKinsey’s Operations group after graduation? You’ll probably want to equip yourself with some specialized supply chain management optimization strategies during your MBA experience. That is a specific “consulting skill” that will let the adcom know that you know how you’re going to utilize their program’s resources to successfully snag that gig after graduation.
Everyone knows that networking with future employers, business partners, and investors is a big part of an MBA experience. Even so, telling an adcom that you need to “build a network” isn’t digging deep enough to be competitive. Who do you need to network with to achieve your goals? Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? You’ll probably need to have a big network of potential VC funders for your startup. Want to get into investment banking? You’ll probably need to get to know some people in the industry through campus recruiting events and industry conferences in order to secure that summer internship that will turn into a full-time offer after graduation. When you’re writing about your networking skills gap that you want to fill at a specific program, talk about who you need to network with, and why you need to network with them.
No matter what the skills are that you need to gain or strengthen through your MBA experience, communicating that you have a nuanced and specific understanding of what they are is essential to writing a competitive “skills gaps” section of your application essay.
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