Bumping into my LBS interviewer last week brought back fond if somewhat traumatic memories from this time last year when I was going through the MBA application process. Now things have calmed down a little after an exciting, exhausting, formative first term, I wanted to share three quotes that recently made an impression on me, and their relevance to my application experience.
1. “Unless a leader knows where they are going, any road will take them there” – Theodore Levitt
I came across this quote in the reading for my Marketing class last week. It reminded me of how useful I found writing my application essay.
LBS has one compulsory question, similar to those at other top programs: what are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these?
The essay was one of the most time-consuming parts of the application. But it was also a rare chance to stop and question why I had gone down certain paths. For instance, it helped me articulate that I am motivated by chances to have high-level impact addressing social issues like inequality, and that this had informed decisions like moving from teaching to consulting.
It can be tempting to tell the school what you think they want to hear. True, the essay tests your ability to form a compelling narrative. But more so, it tests that you have clear career objectives and that the MBA can support these. It’s therefore a far more important tool for the applicant than for the school, given the significant investment an MBA represents.
2. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn
Business schools differ on countless dimensions, from the city to the curriculum. But above all, the people make an MBA and so it is vital to find a school with the right fit.
Most schools offer chances to engage with student life before you apply. LBS did a great job here. I visited a class on statistics. The school paired me with MBA students who provided really great advice. And I even got the chance to go to a campus talk with Lord Browne, former CEO of BP and prominent thinker on business ethics.
I personally wanted to attend a school with an international flavour and I’m excited to now be part of a cohort with 76 nationalities, six in my study group alone. My classmates range from professional cricketers to fashion designers to surgeons and our case discussions have showed me the diverse perspectives that you can approach any problem with. I also wanted a longer course with time to delve into interest areas; at LBS you can develop a concentration through your elective choices and I plan to concentrate in economics.
Whatever your goals there is a school for you – just take the time to find it!
3. “Shipping beats perfection” – Khan Academy
This quote is a development principle at Khan Academy, one of the most striking examples of a business school graduate taking practical, entrepreneurial steps to impact social change.
It reminds me of my GMAT preparations – and not only because I used Khan Academy to brush up on algebra. Looking back on my application, I could have shipped things sooner. I delayed taking the GMAT for too long and was left with a pressured few months approaching the deadline.
There are lots of moving parts in the application; it takes time to arrange referees, get transcripts, polish your CV, complete the online form, take language tests etc. So book that test date. Sort out the easy things like transcripts. And get friends to skim over your essays beforeyou think they are perfect. Whether planning to apply next round or next year, it pays to start now.