To give you a head start and keep you on track in the New Year, Personal MBA Coach has launched a 4-part series this January: Kick-Start Your MBA Planning!
Here is the second part of the series: Building And Improving Your Extracurricular Profile
(In case you missed it, check out part 1: Make Your Career Work For You)
Strengthening extracurricular profiles is one of the key areas I am working on with round 1 candidates this January. Now is the time to build or strengthen your extracurricular profile. By putting in the extra effort now, there is time to add real value before deadlines this fall. Avoid being penalized for not having a track record of involvement by the time summer comes.
There are three key guiding principles to keep in mind when developing your own extracurricular strategy.
1) Quality over quantity: No one has the time to work with 10 different organizations. Having a laundry list of activities is not going to appeal to the admissions committee members. Instead, focus your efforts on organizations or areas where you can have a real impact and add value. There isn’t a “right” number of activities; this will vary from client to client and depend on the depth of your work. However, more often than not, less is more, particularly if you are just getting started now.
2) Focus on leadership: You have probably heard this time and time again, but it is important enough to repeat. Business schools want leaders. This is true for all schools, not just HBS. While there are countless ways that you can (and should) display leadership throughout your profile, extracurricular activities are a great way to do so. Look for an organization where you can step up or explore options to expand your role at an existing organization. Take the time now to do this so that you have clear results to share come essay time.
3) Activities should fit with your profile: Successful applications share a consistent and impactful story. The reader should instantly see who you are, what has defined you and why. Your activities are no different. Choose areas that you are passionate about and that fit with your story. If you want a career as an educational consultant, volunteer in the education industry. If your passion is tennis, teach tennis lessons to underprivileged kids in your neighborhood. You don’t need to overthink it or pick the most unique charity. Instead, do what you love!
At application time, you will find many strategic ways to use your activities to fill in gaps in your profile. Do not underestimate their importance. Get started today.
Unsure about what your gaps are? Need advice on where to begin or how to step up?
We can help! This is the perfect time to get started and have our personal one-on-one support through the entire process, including crafting your extracurricular strategy!
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