The dreaded “career essay”

What are your career aspirations and why?   Why do you want your MBA (at our school)?

It’s causing you angst to no end.  Of course you don’t know 100% what you’re going to do after you graduate.  Even if you think you do, you probably don’t.  There’s a whole professional world out there to explore…isn’t that part of why you’re going to business school?

Let me take the pressure off you:  the admissions committee knows this too.  And the good news is, no one will ever withhold your diploma in the end–cross-referencing your career plans with your application essays, making sure you stuck to your plan.  Unfortunately though,  in the admissions process, there’s nothing less attractive than someone who doesn’t have a clear sense of direction.  “Soul searchers” are sadly not a recognized attribute of future business leaders.  So, you just need to take a leap of faith based on everything you know today—and make the best case for your chance to explore tomorrow at the schools of your choice.

Where to start

Think down the road, maybe 7-10 years. Whose role could you see yourself in?  Is there anyone at your company whose position you’d like to have over one day? Anyone in your industry?  Among your extended network? Does the job even exist, or would you be creating  it from scratch?  Would you want to build it for yourself, or would you want to infuse it into an existing organization?

Then, pick a viable path for yourself.  A path that, as of right now, you can be truly excited about—and get others excited about it for you.  Then go with it. Research it to death.  Know the lingo, the career progression, and what it takes to succeed.  Know what experiences you’ll need to get there, and how business school fits into the plan.  Show some openness and flexibility.  Then, put a stake in the ground and hammer it in.   Be confident.  Have direction.  And  by all means, be genuine.

From there, the future is yours to define.  Carpe diem, class of 2013.

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© Hillary Schubach, October 25, 2010  10:42pm MT