We believe that the MBA admissions process is inherently a marketing exercise, plain and simple. To be clear, this does NOT mean “spinning your story” to impress the admissions committee or telling them what you think they want to hear. It means, presenting your authentic self in the best light possible. It means taking a premium product (YOU) and wrapping it in beautiful packaging, showing off your true colors inside, then adding a well-written label that lets your personality shine through, so that you stand out from all of the others.
And as any good marketer knows, the key to marketing success is a solid brand foundation. It’s impossible to market a brand effectively if you don’t know what it stands for. Similarly, before jumping into the application process, it’s important that you understand your own personal brand and have the same sense of clarity about yourself.
You may have heard the marketing terms “brand identity” or “brand positioning statement.” Branding a human is a very similar exercise. While there are a number of relevant elements that can comprise one’s personal brand, if you focus on these five, you’ll be off to a running start:
What gets you out of bed on a daily basis? What do you aspire to accomplish today, or tomorrow? Take a nearer-term view and think about the immediate impact you intend to have. In b-school terms, this is your short-term career goal.
What is your overall reason for being? Your ultimate dream? What is the impact you hope to have on your future organization, future customers, a community, an entire nation, or just a single person? In MBA application terms, this is your long-term career goal. Think big. This should be your ongoing source of inspiration.
What is important to you? What do you believe in? By what criteria do you make decisions? What are your priorities? How do you choose spend your time—e.g. with what types of activities, organizations, or people? What qualities do they all share? Brainstorm broadly, then consolidate your list to six or eight core values.
Hewlett-Packard and Apple both make computers, though each brand has a very different personality. What is your brand like? What are your attributes and characteristics, both in a professional setting and in your personal life? These qualities show off your style and help foster a connection with your target audience.
A brand positioning statements defines how you are differentiated from your competitors. What do you uniquely have to offer? What can you promise (and deliver on) that others can’t? Then, include three good reasons why we should believe you. Once your personal brand is completed, keep in on your desk to guide you as you’re putting together your resume and essays, preparing your recommenders, and practicing for your interviews.
Remember, no other MBA candidate is exactly like you. And before your own marketing process can begin, you’ve got to know what your brand is all about and why yours is the most compelling choice.
[For help with your personal branding, or for general MBA admissions advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org]
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