Many candidates pursue an MBA with the hopes of altering their career paths. In our current environment, with declining economic conditions, this is likely to be an increasingly common strategy.
However, applicants looking to change careers should put in some extra work now to show that their desired career is both authentic AND attainable. This is even more true for applicants who might have been laid off recently (particularly if you do not plan to apply for a few months or more).
Here are some actions you can take now to increase your chances of success!
1) Do your research
Know the role and industry that you aspire to join and understand the skills required for success. All too often we read vague goals statements that show candidate do not really know their future industry. Check LinkedIn to see where MBA graduates are going and talk to friends or former classmates who work in the space. Understand the industry’s career pathing. The more you know about your future industry, the more authentic your essays will sound as you begin to articulate your goals.
2) Look for extra-curricular work in your target industry
Volunteering in your future industry or function can be a great way not only to solidify your interest but also to show the reader that you have truly given this future career some serious thought and consideration. This will help add cohesion to your overall story. If you cannot find work in your target industry, you can think broadly as you consider related activities, as long as you can draw a clear connection for the reader.
3) Seek out related projects in your current role
In some cases, this is easy to do. For instance, if you are a consultant seeking to transition to the technology space, ask to be staffed on a project in the industry. In other cases, you may have to be more creative. Even experiences such as working on cross-functional projects or leading internal initiatives can expose you to related departments, so do not be afraid to think outside of the box. If you are unemployed, consider an unpaid internship to cover any resume gaps or even asking for a project at your friend’s startup.
4) Create a personal tie to your future career
As you begin to explain your career aspirations, think about whether you have a personal connection with this career. Remember your applications should explain your story and what makes you unique, so your career goals can demonstrate a personal fit, even if the professional one is not immediately apparent. This is the type of one-on-one storytelling Personal MBA Coach works on with our clients.
5) Point out similarities between your current role and future goals
It is important to show admissions committee members that you are set up to succeed. Even if you are not able to gain experience in your future industry, there are likely past experiences you can draw upon. Think about the most important criteria for success in your future role and point out how you have already developed and demonstrated these skills. Personal MBA Coach specializes in providing our candidates with tailored advice, helping them to articulate their unique stories.
6) Consider short-term educational opportunities
This is particularly important if you are not currently working. It will be crucial to show that you have used time between jobs effectively. Taking additional coursework (particularly quantitative courses or those related to your future field) can be another great way to improve your profile.