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How to Think About Your MBA Goals


“What do you want to do after you graduate from business school?”


This seemingly simple question can actually be one of the most difficult to answer eloquently. With a few exceptions, articulating your post-MBA goals is a crucial part of the application process. Most business schools want to know how you will make the world better when you leave their campuses and what your unique mark will be.


As we shared in last week’s 5-month MBA application timeline, all class of 2024 candidates should be fine tuning their MBA goals if they have not already done so.


As you begin to reflect upon and articulate your goals, consider these six key pieces of advice.


1) Be decisive


While no one will hold you to what you write in your MBA application essays, you should generally be decisive when discussing your MBA career goals. Pick a set of goals and run with them. Candidates should not expect to “find themselves” in business school, though in reality this often happens.


If you do have multiple ideas in mind, some schools are comfortable with understanding your thought process and decision-making criteria (Personal MBA Coach discusses this with our clients on a case-by-case basis). Most schools, however, will want candidates to have clear plans laid out before they arrive on campus.


2) Be consistent


Your goals should be YOUR goals. This means they should not vary from one MBA application to the next. Candidates can lose credibility by changing their goals to please the audience, and it can be difficult to articulate true passion (see point 6 below) for goals that are not genuine.



3) Your career goals should be ambitious, yet attainable


As valuable as an MBA is, you likely will not be running a department on the first day out of business school. Do your research and figure out what positions are realistic for you.


You can start by looking at career postings from companies in your target industry. Pay close attention to required industry experience, particularly if you are considering changing careers. This will give you a good idea of what role you might be qualified for immediately post-MBA and will allow you to specifically note which position you hope to secure after school.


4) Consider a logical career pathway


With your attainable role as a launching point, set out an ambitious path and long-term goal for yourself. This long-term goal is your opportunity to dream big and show how you will drive change in your future industry. It should flow logically (though not necessarily obviously) from your short-term goals.


While you do not need to rise through the standard career ranks at your target firm (though it is perfectly fine if this is your goal), your career path should make sense to the reader and allow you to leverage the skills you will develop during your MBA and throughout your early post-MBA career.


5) Share how you will be unique


Even if you have a very common career goal, such as becoming a management consultant or an investment banker, you want to share how you will make your unique mark. Perhaps you intend to develop a specific area of expertise within the consulting industry or focus on a certain sector. You must go beyond simply stating what position you are hoping to achieve. Think deeper and share your vision for improving your chosen field or company.



6) Articulate passion


A strong career goals essay will communicate passion for your future field. This does not mean that you need a long explanation for why you selected this career path. That said, as you provide the context and discuss your future, it should be clear to the reader that you are excited about this profession. Sharing what drove you to this field and identifying current innovations that particularly intrigue you are ways to show such passion.


About Personal MBA Coach:


Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2, currently holding the #1 ranking in the US on Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes a former M7 admissions director and former M7 admissions interviewers.


Last year, our clients earned more than $6M in scholarships!

You also may like these other MBA application tips:


What Is an MBA Resume?


Articulating Your Personal Story


How to Maximize Your Chance for an MBA Scholarship

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