Indian IT Male MBA applicants: Preparing to Apply
In part 1 of our series on Indian IT Male MBA candidates, we looked at the factors that one must consider when first thinking about an MBA. In part 2, we covered school selection, which is critical to be able to get your application strategy on target. In part 3, this post, we cover the important elements that go into preparing a strong MBA application. The steps discussed here apply not just to IT Male MBA applicants, but also to IT applicants in general looking at an MBA, and to a more limited extent, MBA applicants in general.
1. Strong IT male MBA candidates get started early and schedule their time in anticipation of their commitment
As an IT male MBA applicant, the first thing to realize is that you are applying to multiple programs (if you are not, then you should – applying only to one or two programs is a risky strategy unless you are absolutely sure you do not want to go anywhere else). Each application will require time and energy on different fronts – researching the school, creating essays, asking for recommendations, getting all documentation together, exploring scholarship opportunities, and finally bringing all of this together. This doesn’t mean throwing all social activities or recreation out of the window, but making sure that the time and attention that your MBA applications deserve is at your disposal. Sometimes, and this is especially true for IT candidates, it might mean planning your professional availability too and not volunteering for projects that might involve extensive travel or long hours spent in the office.
A quick consideration here – what if you can’t schedule your time this way? What if you just don’t have the visibility or are unable to bow out of current projects? In that case, planning becomes even more important. You need to possibly schedule and block off time on weekends and start as early as you can.
2. The best candidates take the time and effort to know their schools well
Very often, MBA applicants rely on understanding the programs of their choice only through the program websites. We recommend that applicants leverage all other resources available to them – webinars, information sessions, or meet and greet events – made available. A cardinal mistake that many applicants make is looking at these events as opportunities to ‘impress’ the visiting Admissions staff. Admissions officers typically meet hundreds of applicants as they tour through cities and countries, and they are unlikely to remember you. They are also not there to make mental notes on outstanding applicants – if they find your profile interesting, they will actively encourage you to apply, and then judge you on the basis of your application. Treat these sessions, therefore, as opportunities to get to know your target school well. What are the learning opportunities that the school has? How can it best support your career ambitions? How are alumni from IT or technology backgrounds doing post the MBA? Some of these questions can really help you gain a much deeper perspective on your MBA program of choice.
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3. Excellent MBA candidates spend time with their recommenders and involve them BEFORE formally asking for the recommendation
This process really involves many parts. The first is around selecting the right recommenders. Sometimes the most obvious choices are not the most appropriate ones. For example, you might not want to get a recommendation from your reporting manager because you have worked with him/her for only a few months, and spent the last three years working with some other manager, who might know you much better. Determining the right person to recommend you is very important.
Another important part of getting a winning recommendation is making your recommender a part of the process. Your recommender is after all an important part of the entire evaluation. What he/she says is critical to your success and will corroborate your strengths. Discussing your aspirations, what your recommender feels about them, and discussing your career choices and future objectives can only do you good. Not only will this make the recommender feel much more involved, but it will show him/her that you really care about your plans and what the recommender thinks of them. In our opinion, getting this buy-in can often be the difference between a good recommendation and an outstanding one. Your recommenders are putting in substantial time and energy to (hopefully :-)) make you look good. Make sure they are highly motivated to do this.
In the next part of this series, we will look at the essay creation phase, and list some dos and donts to be followed for it.