Important Profile Building Tips for a US MBA

The Application trends survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 2015, presented that India is now the top provider of international candidates for both one-year and two-year MBA programmes. According to GMAC’s Profile of GMAT Testing, Indian citizens represent 12% of global GMAT testing and a whopping 91% of testing by Central and South Asian citizens. As a point of reference, Indian citizens sat for 29,042 GMAT exams in the testing year 2015 alone, compared with 19,103 for Western Europe and 1,968 for Russia.

But how does this over-representation put you, a study abroad aspirant from India, in a difficult position? It does because global diversity is one of the key components considered by MBA admission officers. This means that as more and more Indians apply for MBA programmes, you face increasingly fierce competition within this sub-segment.

18 Tips To Strengthen Your US MBA Application

1. Review the Class & Student Profiles at your target b-schools*

Assess yourself realistically against these details. Look at their level of community engagement, post-MBA career vision, international exposure, etc. If incoming MBA students average three years of work experience, you know you will need to build more professional experience before applying.

*you will find these details on b-school websites

2. Network with alumni

Ask thoughtful questions about what the b-school is all about and what it’s looking for in an MBA candidate. It really shows your enthusiasm, when someone has had a few conversations with students and alumni, and you can even drop names of such persons within the application.

3. Become the leader of a BIG project

It doesn’t matter where: volunteering at work, the rotary club, etc. The idea is that you have a solid project management experience (e.g. budgeting, scheduling, managing people, meeting goals, planning for a quarter/semester/year).

4. Ace GMAT Verbal

When you take the GMAT, because of your background (assuming you are an engineer), it is highly possible that you will ace the GMAT Quant section, but not perform so well in the GMAT Verbal section. You will stand out if you demonstrate your mastery of communication in English and score high in GMAT Verbal.

5. Strengthen your command over the English language

Get a subscription to the newspaper, The New York Times, and read several articles every day without fail. The grammar and writing in The New York Times articles are excellent, and over the next few years, you will begin to absorb and use good English.

If you feel the need, take additional English courses to improve your language skills. Begin as early as possible and don’t wait until you have only a couple of months to take the GMAT exam.

6. Advance writing skills

Work on your writing skills. You’d be surprised how many of your peers have awesome ideas but cannot explain them in writing. Don’t befall into that rut.

7. Demonstrate leadership in your career

Showcase your ability to lead by stepping forward whenever you can. Learn how to manage people, budgets, and/or projects. One of the most popular reasons people pursue an MBA is to land a management position at a great company. By showcasing strong leadership experience, you’ve already got your foot in the door.

8. Follow Your Target B Schools

You should also look for ways to have a virtual experience through online presentations, live chats or webinars. Be sure to also follow all their social media activities.

9. Pursue your favourite sports

Sports will help you work on your individual excellence as well as teamwork to achieve a common goal. Check-out Playo.co, GroundWala.in or Athletto.com. For more options, perform a Google search.

10. Make meaningful connections

Make an effort to build relationships within the community at each of your target schools. Explore your existing network to try and connect to students and alumni or reach out to the admissions team to ask to be put in touch with someone who has a similar background to you.

11. Reference Specific Conversations, Insights and Events

In the application, take the opportunity to reference that you had great conversations with ‘this student from this year,’ talking about all the wonderful club opportunities, for example, and what that led to in the context of your interests and aspirations. While each application is different, and every b-school has its own process, there are always clever ways to imply how much research you’ve done. Not just by writing your essays with depth and detail, but literally mentioning ‘I’ve been to this or that event, or I’ve met this member of staff.’ Schools will take note of the amount of effort you’ve put in.

12. Build smart connections and look for ways to contribute early

If you’ve got your career goals and your overarching vision figured out, and you know where you want to go and how a particular school is going to help you get there, you’re poised to make connections that are going to reinforce this journey. For example, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you’ll want to get in touch with an entrepreneurship club. Perhaps you discover the head of the club is running an event, and maybe you could help them with some contacts. It’s never too early to start getting involved, even before you’ve joined the business school, to demonstrate that you really have a passion for an issue and that you’re the kind of person who will make positive contributions.

13. Become acquainted with b-school faculty

For a deeper dive into the areas of specialization and expertise that your business schools offer, acquaint yourself with the faculty. Especially at top schools, many professors are publishing ground-breaking research and making headlines within their field of study. Try to follow the research of an individual faculty member, a book they’ve written and/or opinions they’re advancing on the issues. This is yet another way to go beyond those course lists on the website.

14. Solicit input from trusted connections

If you’ve cultivated trusted student or alumni connections, ask if they’d be willing to read your essays and give you some constructive feedback. It will be invaluable given their first-hand understanding of the school’s culture and what makes it unique. Invite their frank feedback, so they might say to you, ‘no, this essay isn’t coming across as truly Columbia,’ (for example).

15. Brief your recommenders

Your recommenders are an important element of your strategic positioning. Sit down with your recommenders and talk to them about what your goals are, what your vision is, and how this school, in particular, is going to help you get there. This sets them up for success including specific snippets that might resonate with your school in their recommendation.

16. Be active online

You can create how-to videos on YouTube for your topics of interest and areas of expertise. By posting such explanatory videos and gaining followers on your YouTube channel, you can easily demonstrate your skills in that particular area.

Some of the other things you can do to showcase your topics of interest and areas of expertise are: Answer questions on Quora; Maintain a blog; Tweet; Share on Facebook; Post on LinkedIn

17. Contribute to Newspapers and Magazines

By publishing in a renowned newspaper or magazine, you can demonstrate your knowledge as well as acceptance as an authority in an area.

18. Attend conferences related to your career

By referring to newspapers or Facebook events, or by simply Googling, you can find out about conferences and events related to your job; attend at least some of them. You will not only gain knowledge but can network with professionals in your industry, while also learning about trends and opportunities. You will also gain a broader perspective than you can write about in your essays and talk about it in your interviews.

In continuation, you should read some of our other articles, like this one on –How to Get A Great MBA Letter of Recommendation to supplement your use of these important profile building tips!

By Sweena Karnani, Senior Editor


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