Posts Tagged ‘applications’

First I will introduce myself as this is my first post here: my name is Bruna, I am Brazilian and guess what… I was assigned to Stream B at LBS! I got a triple B here but still don’t know if the Program Office did it on purpose.

Before starting the MBA, especially after looking at the Programme Content, I had some expectations about how my student life would be. Some were totally mistaken and I’ll tell you all about this now.

 

1.Workload and Homework

 

Expectation: I knew the MBA was going to be busy with many different activities, but somehow we can’t really believe when others advise us… You look at the school website, the core courses and the program structure and it all seems totally manageable, totally fine! After all, we all had to work more than 10 hours a day, weekends and holidays occasionally. Of course, it takes some time to adapt to a new routine, but once it is established, I was sure it was going to be smooth.

 

Reality: Actually, there is no such thing as routine here! When you think you understood your weekly schedule, they just change everything on the next week. Thought I would never have classes at 8:15 in the morning, now I am having it for the next… well, have to check my schedule again. By the way, during the MBA you are going to say and hear this a lot! You are going to learn all about scheduling apps and methods to set up meetings. Get ready and find some space to install many apps in your mobile!

LBS MBA reactions reality cat too busy runnning bruna moreira

Source: reddit.com

 

2. Corporate Finance classes

 

Expectation: I do not have a Finance background and I knew a lot of my classmates would be aiming to intern in Finance positions. This meant high-level Finance courses since the beginning, no surprise! I thought it would be very, very, very hard to follow the classes.

 

Reality: I just loved the Corporate Finance classes! And I also think my whole class fell in love with our teacher Anna Pavlova, who read a Finance poem in our first class and proved we can have some fun in class (not as much as in a beach drinking piña coladas, but still…). Not that the content is easy, but it is taught in a way that everybody learns it smoothly.

lisa simpson in love bruna moreira reaction to LBS MBA

Source: giphy.com

 

 

3. Non-traditional post-MBA career opportunities

 

Expectation: My initial post-MBA goal is to continue working in Tech and Telecom and I thought it would be very hard to find opportunities for MBAs outside of the traditional Finance and Consulting industries.

 

Reality: Turns out that not only Finance and Consulting companies are talking about technology, but also the Tech & Media Club is one of the most active professional clubs at LBS. We seriously believe David Morris does not sleep! We get at least 2-3 career opportunities a week from him. And there are also jobs and networking opportunities coming from so many other Clubs: Industry, Net Impact, Energy, Infrastructure & Construction, Sports Business, and many regional Clubs.

cat confused with so many options bruna moreira reaction to LBS MBA

Source: unbounce.com

 

So, after all my research (I did a lot, believe me! Or look at GMAT Club and you’ll see it) before the MBA, I still had some wrong expectations. But it turns out to be really amazing and much better than I imagined! I am sure I did the right choice when I decided for LBS. I recommend you do a profound research and analyse how prepared you are before you start this journey. Then, just open your mind and dive into a new adventure.

 

Please leave any questions or comments bellow. I’ll be very happy to read and reply!

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John F. Kennedy — ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’

 

Having spoken and worked with admissions managers in recruitment, I learned that when they review applications, they often look for how applicants may bring value to the classroom and the wider LBS community.

 

The exact wordings of the essay questions on the application vary from year to year, but they are designed to help admissions managers to evaluate the following:

 

Are you bringing in experience, professional and academic, that is rare among members of the community (N.B. the community of current students, and not the application pool)?

When I was putting together my application for the MiM, I reached out to students in the programme via email and read their profiles (available online). I realized that what differentiated me from the pack was my experience in public service, combined with internships in varied fields (tech start-ups, government, and laws). Using that piece of insight, I started to develop a narrative for my personal statement.

 

Can you demonstrate that you have exemplified the core values (communal, courageous, engaged, ambitious and eclectic) of London Business School, and will continue to do so when you are here?

While LBS, just like all the other great institutions, celebrates diversity and uniqueness, it also appreciates recruiting prospects that can unify under some greater, esteemed values. They just wanted to know what drives your decisions and actions when under pressure. Over the course of my study at LBS, there had been moments that were stressful, and I was very fortunate to have colleagues that truly exemplified those core values. They made my life so much easier (and I hope I did theirs, too). I figured that’s why LBS is interested in the values that you uphold and embrace. Knowing why the School asks this question, I hope this gives you some ideas for which professional experience you’d like to share in your application.

 

Do you show, through your application, convincing motivation behind your application and your qualifications aligned to the requirements?

I personally find this to be the simplest and, yet at the same time, the toughest question to answer. Simplest because the answer could be as simple as “I want to be a consultant and studying at LBS would help me achieve this goal.” Toughest because it is very easy to see through it if you don’t have a strong case for it. My best advice is to take time and think through this most important question (I’ve briefly touched on this topic in my first post), then answer as honestly as you can (and should).

 

What do you add to the (London Business School) community?

Don’t overthink on this one. If you are an avid basketball player as I am, feel free tell them you’re interested in joining basketball club on campus and help organise events. If you have a knack of building connection with people and/or have an extensive network in a particular field, then the community might benefit from you when you bring in guest speakers in lectures or on-campus events. If you have spent the last five years studying a particular subject, the class certainly could benefit from your sharing of knowledge and in-class participation.

 

Write your application from the perspective of the admissions committee; include details that are relevant to them, and leave out things that would distract them from appreciating your uniqueness. The application should be succinct to a point that, when they are done with reading it, they should be able to identify you in your own category.

 

The ability to create and communicate your own brand is highly valued by the admissions committee, as well as prospective employers. It shows self-awareness, strong analytical and communication skills, and a healthy dose of self-confidence – skills that reflect problem-solving capability. Being able to communicate your brand in a way that emphasizes your value to the organization (e.g. London Business School) is even better.

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Should I do my MBA at Harvard, London Business School, Wharton, or just carry on with my job and forget about this whole MBA business?

The 2015 Financial Times ranking came out today with the top three business Schools in the world being Harvard, London Business School and Wharton.

FT Rankings

 

Before I answer the question “Do I need an MBA”, I have a question for you. Why do companies value MBA graduates from these business schools?

Do you think it is because they have a good education? Do you think it is because they are clever? Do you think it is because they have demonstrated some sort of social skills?

Of course these factors are important, but you can also have all of these things without an MBA.

I mean let’s take a step back and ask, what is the point of an MBA? You can pick up Josh Kauffman’s book ‘The Personal MBA’, do some online courses and get the material off a friend and you are pretty much learning the exact same thing right?

Well there are many arguments for an MBA, one of the main ones being the network you build, but the most interesting one I will focus on will be something I didn’t initially think of before having this conversation with one of the leading Strategy professors at London Business School.

Before I tell you what our discussion was about, I first need to explain the concept of a firm’s signalling policy. If a company like Facebook has a great project that they think they can make money out of, (e.g. the Occulus Rift), they can take on some debt to finance and invest in this project. When a company that size takes on the right amount of debt, the “markets” usually react positively. This is because people in the “market” are considered as “clever” and know that well established companies are only going to take on debt if they are sure they have a good project. In other words, they are putting their money where their mouth is, rather than being all talk and just make an announcement saying “we have a great project coming up that will make us a lot of money”.

In the same way an MBA student is kind of like a company. He/she takes on debt to pay his/her MBA tuition fees, which can take on numbers such as £60k+. Firms see this as a signal and place their trust in an MBA student’s abilities. They are thus willing to pay them six figure salaries as the signalling concept shows how strongly the MBA believes in his/her potential.

A lot of the world is based on beliefs and expectations of the future. This is just some food for thought for those who hear about how much it costs to do an MBA and think “Do I really need an MBA”..  “I mean Wow, that is a lot of dollar”.

Posted 26/01/2015

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How can I start a company that is going to be the next Google? Is it even possible for a normal person like me to do such a thing?

For me personally, no. Well now it might be, but if I asked myself these questions 3 months ago I would have said definitely not. I mean, I wouldn’t even know where to start, where to get the money from or who I should work with. In fact, I just had a bunch of good business ideas and thought “I’m going to start a business” without having a clue what my strategy was, who my customers were or even how I planned on making money.

So what has changed in these last 3 months? The answer is Business School. Three months ago I accepted my offer to start my Masters at London Business School and it really has changed the way I think. I mean, I didn’t even know what the Time Value of Money was. I literally thought if I sold my car and put the £5000 in a bank without touching it, that £5000 is still going to be £5000 in two years’ time when I buy new one. This isn’t actually true. In fact, when I got home after learning this I was like:

 

Surprised

 

For quite a while.

So I guess the question now is, should you go out and spend £28,000 per year (Masters) on business school fees to learn these important concepts? Well yes and no. If you can afford it, yes, I would highly recommend it – London Business School has been one of the best experiences of my life to date. If you can’t don’t worry. Over the next 6 months, I will be posting about every important concept I learn that I believe is essential in recognising how to become as successful as a Fortune 500 Business Leader. As long as you read all my blog posts, you will pretty much be learning everything I am, but saving yourself £28,000 per year . Stay tuned, follow me on social media and keep up to date with my blog.

Twitter: @umarahmed12

Instagram: @umarahmed122

Youtube: Coming Soon

Official Website: www.umarahmed.com

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So I decided to pursue an MBA degree. It is a thought process that many go through at some point in their careers. I did too. I even blogged about it. I finally decided to apply to the EMBA programme at the London Business School. Why, you ask? There were three very concrete reasons.

First was the structure of the programme. The modular format gave me immense flexibility. I could continue working and earning while I learnt. The format also enabled me to immediately apply what I learnt. Second was the nature of the programme. I am already past the individual contributor stage in my organisation. A General Management focus was just what I needed. Third was the brand name. Responding to the question ‘Where are you doing your MBA from?’ with ‘London Business School’ usually results in raised eyebrows (wonder, not suspicion) and a hint of a sense of awe. In fact, this programme fitted my needs so perfectly that I did not apply to any other MBA programme.

So, I started my application process. I have applied for full time MBA programmes at various top-ranked universities in the past. There is very less interaction with the admissions team until one gets an interview. With the London Business School EMBA, I had someone reach out to me almost instantly. The first thing I noticed was how nice she and everyone else I interacted with was. She was very courteous, knew all the answers to my (often frivolous) questions, and was prompt in her replies. It felt like they really wanted me to have a good application experience.

I went through the cycle of writing essays, re-writing them and then re-writing some more. The single most important piece of advice I can give you here, is that you must write from your heart. You’re combining so many pieces of information in your application that any discrepancies are visible almost immediately. Sure, you want to portray yourself to be the best candidate that you can be. But I think authenticity and honesty are valued immensely at the London Business School. I chose to focus on what I could bring that no one  else could, on my unique story and on how much I would really love to be part of this programme.

Lo and behold, I had an interview call. I visited the Dubai campus on a scorching June morning. The interview started on time and I had senior programme members interview me along with the admissions committee. I liked the fact that selecting candidates was considered a task important enough to have such senior people present. They covered an exhaustive range of topics through their questions, and it felt as though they wanted to understand me from a holistic perspective. Now I recruit for my company, and have interviewed over a thousand candidates during the course of my career. But this was a different experience. I thought I was really good at reading people, but I came out of the interview with absolutely no idea of what they thought of me. I thought to myself, ‘These guys are good. I have never seen such a poker face.’

In the end, I didn’t have to worry too much. I got my offer, and I accepted it without hesitation. The poker faces have been replaced with warm smiles. Now, with two modules completed, I am even more confident that my decision to apply to this programme was correct. But more on that later.

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As a Student Ambassador, I often get questions from prospective students around the world. They always go like this:

“My name is xxx, and I came from x country, and have done xxx. Do you think I have a good chance of getting in London Business School?”

That’s a fair question, but not the right one to ask if they really want to attend London Business School. For those whose profiles meet the minimum requirements, I would ask them:

 

“What do you want, and how would London Business School help you achieve that?”

 

Life is a journey without a clear path, and business school is only one pit stop along the way. The last thing you want to do is to chance the course of your career without an idea of where you want to go. Therefore, the question to ask is “how can London Business School help me achieve my goals?”

Your past reflects what your goals might be, and your achievements indicates the likeliness that you would succeed, but what really matters is where you are going from there. At London Business School, students are diverse not only due to their backgrounds, but also their purpose of coming here. Some are here to secure a job in prestigious corporate or professional careers, some are here to meet future business partners, and a (very) rare few came here simply to have a memorable learning experience. London Business School is such an unique place, because most of these people would find what they have sought.

Just a month into my MiM year at London Business School, I completed a consulting project with a technology start-up, started one with a fellow MiM student, took on executive roles in student clubs and became a Student Ambassador.  Opportunities are abundant at the School, and it is easy to loose yourself in these seemingly hard-to-pass-on chances. To get the most out of your time at the School, however, you must know exactly why are you here. For me, I understand that my passion is in strategy and problem solving. I worked with these start-ups, not because I wanted to build the next Uber or Instagram, but because I wanted real-life opportunities to practice my consulting and execution skills. I am therefore seeking ways to do exactly that.

Once you understand your goals, then you would really have a chance to not only get admitted, but also succeed at London Business School. While the school life is fun, it is also demanding and could become stressful to those without a clear action plan. These students tend to sign up for too many  (irrelevant) company presentations, join way too many clubs, and try to attend social events every week while attempting to meet the assignment deadlines. They obviously do not know what they want and where they are going.

Before asking the question “would I get in,” ask yourself:

“How would London Business School help me in my journey?”

 

In my next post, I will talk about the questions that we (and the admissions officers) ask when we review applications.

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As the current class of MiMs throw up their hats to celebrate graduation and pack their bags to move on to bigger and better futures in their chosen careers, its inevitable to look back and think about what we wish we might have known before we began this exhilarating experience.

So I bring to you a few things that the current class said when asked about the best advice they received when applying to business school and the advice they would pass on to future MiMs.

“Think about what value addition Business School is bringing to your education” “Go to the school with the best name for your CV” were some responses. I would agree and add that this is especially key for those who are still deciding what they should be doing for the next year of their life. LBS added a lot to my CV due to the clubs and activities I was able to be a part of and it helped give me a balanced education with my engineering background. How would it help you?

“Manage your time well and try meeting one new person everyday” while ambitious, is great advice because of the tremendous benefits a good network can lead to. “Enjoy your last year of university” - no doubt advice that has been born from the nostalgia of leaving, all MiMs would agree that in addition to studying and securing a job, the importance of making the journey a memorable one cannot be overstated.

As far as particularly applying to LBS, “Prepare your application and interview thoroughly and get advice from someone who has been accepted into a top school” “Be prepared, you will be surprised how many candidates enter the interview without doing their research”. I put these first since I have also had a fair share of experience with candidates who go through the admissions process only to be surprised mid way through the process when interview questions leave them unprepared. The first stage of essays is also very crucial “Take it serious and let your friends and family proofread your essay’s. If they recognize your personality in your writing, you’re on the right track.” “Make sure to tell your story through your essays”.

Once accepted, this year can be overwhelming with opportunities. “Be mature, know your objectives. Be sure you are clear about them, and MiM will help to achieve them.” “Enjoy every event and meet as many people as you can because thats where you will learn the most from” “If you have a business background, the MiM at LBS will be more beneficial if you are looking for a programme that gives you a network and personal development training”

Others say “Be certain about atleast three career choices and know that you have researched them well. It might sound clichéd, but “be yourself” is sound advice – be the best version of yourself.” “Don’t underestimate Marketing!” and “Make sure you don’t forget to have fun!”

More questions regarding the course can be directed to MiM student ambassadors or leave a comment below

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Almost two years ago I started my MBA. The application process for it started a year or so before that. I remember being bewildered by the number of business schools to choose from and that, aside from location and their ranking, they all seemed pretty much the same. Students and alumni at every school claimed they were amongst the best for reputation, for recruiting, and for academics. And to an extent these claims were all true.

But that didn’t help me narrow down my application list. Instead, my application short list was based largely on the impression made by the wholly unrepresentative sample of students and alumni that I met from each of these schools. It seemed like the best method at the time.

With hindsight, now I can confirm that, yes, the top schools are all very similar on the surface. But with a little digging it’s possible to find a large number of differences between business schools. Those differences may be small things like whether a school hosts free drinks each week or how you select your electives. As you add up all these differences though and then compare schools, you’ll definitely see distinct pictures of the schools emerge.

Why should you care? The first reason is that you’ll likely be studying there for two years. That’s a decent chunk of time so it’s in your interest to find the place best suited for you. That can be hard; you may not know what is ‘best’ for you now. Also, chances are that if you enjoy business school at one place, you would probably fit in and be happy at another school too. But still, the little things can make the difference between a good time and a great time.

The second reason, and arguably more important (or at least more Machiavellian), is that it will help with your application to that school. If you have a good knowledge of what really sets that business school apart, that will impress in your essays and application.

So what actually are the differences between the top business schools? You could ask questions like ‘What’s the best thing about this school?’ or ‘What’s the worst thing?’ Boring! I often asked these types of questions and I would get similar responses at whatever school I visited. But I want to make life easier for you. Here’s where I’ve observed some big differences between top business schools. It would be in your interest to think about and learn the answers to these questions before applying to your chosen business schools.

Academics

Is the school better at any particular subject area?
Every business school offers courses across every subject area. But some schools excel at certain areas. Kellogg is known for marketing, LBS is known for finance. In these departments at these schools, you’ll likely benefit from better professors; more elective options; and access to influential outside speakers. You may not necessarily improve your employment prospects in these fields (nor harm them in others), but it could mean you get a far better education in these subject areas. The subsequent benefit being that you become more knowledgeable and better connected than your peers at other business schools in that subject area.

How rigorous are the classes and how many hours outside of class are required?
Some schools have a higher workload than others. This can also vary within subject areas at a school, for example, finance courses may require more outside work than marketing courses. Academic rigour is good, but if you’re constantly hitting the books in the library, when do you get to take part in clubs, socialise with classmates, and search for the post-MBA job? There is more to the MBA than just the academics.

A word of caution: it’s a universal truth that the workload of MBA students initially is high, so making a comparison against the first semester won’t be useful. Instead, ask about the workload after the first semester or after the first year.

How many core classes are required?
Some schools require you to take a prescribed list of classes in your first year, with little exception. Others provide you with more flexibility. If you’re looking for a well-rounded learning experience, the former is good. But if you want to become an operations management guru, you may want the latter so that you can skip straight to the electives that matter.

Are their streams/sections/cohorts? How are they chosen? How do people interact and socialise within the sections and between sections?
Most business schools have some concept of a section: a group of 60-90 students you do the majority of your classes with. Usually schools try and create a mini version of the United Nations by amassing a variety of nationalities and professions. The personalities of sections even with a school can vary significantly, so what you hear from current students may not be reflective of your own experience. But nevertheless, find out whether people enjoyed it.

Are there study groups? Do they matter?
Some schools place you into a study group that you keep for your entire first year. These are an even smaller cross-section of your stream. Other schools change study groups every semester or even in every course. There are tradeoffs between the two approaches: the same study group for the entire year can lead to great friendships, it’s also easier to share the workload around. On the otherhand, you miss out on working with a greater variety of personality types and may miss out on friendships being formed.

Some schools have courses where a large percentage of your grade is based on work you do as a study group. At other schools it’s just an informal group for discussing the classwork. Think about which you prefer and find out which approach your business school takes.

Are there any unique requirements?
LBS and INSEAD both require you to learn a second or third language. Some schools have components that require you to study overseas for a week as an international business experience. Is this something you want? Or is it an unnecessary burden for you?

What are the campus facilities like?
Places like Columbia, NYU and LBS are in the heart of major cities. It’s a great experience being in New York and London, but it comes with the concession of being constrained by space. Some schools also share their facilities with undergrad students. Does that then mean it becomes a challenge to find a desk or study room in the library? Or perhaps the bench press in the gym is always in use.

How are electives allocated?
Some business schools have a bidding system, at others you must rank your preferred courses, others still probably leave it to some mystic incantations to determine which courses you’re allocated. It’s important to know how courses are allocated to better understand whether you’ll be able to get on the courses you want.

Who are the good professors and will I be able to study with them?
Every business school has its rockstar professors who feature on various top lists. Chances are you want to take a course offered by one of these professors. But will you be able to? Some of these professors only teach to the Executive MBAs, or teach at a satellite campus on the other side of the globe, or they only teach once a year (which may then clash with your overseas exchange/extended internship/beach holiday). Even if you overcome those hurdles, can you then get on the course (see previous question)? In short, if there is a particular professor you want to study under, find out how easy it is to take their courses.

Clubs

What clubs are on campus?
Clubs are a great way to learn and extend your ability in both professional and social pursuits. If you’re founding a startup, get involved with the tech and entrepreneur clubs, or if you want to become a consultant, join the consulting club. They’ll help you immensely move ahead in your chosen industry. They’re also a fantastic way to meet people and have fun. I immensely enjoyed my two years as part of the rugby club.

Of course, if a club isn’t on campus, you could always start one and you’ll certainly gain some great skills in doing so, but those skills may be more in organisation and admin than in the actual industry, sport or hobby.

Which ones are active? In what way are they active?
Even if a club exists on campus, how active is it? If they’re only organising activities or meeting once a semester, it’s not going to be a great place to meet people and develop new skills or have fun. On the otherhand, an active club is a fantastic way to meet new classmates, network with alumni and learn about an industry or have fun taking part in a sport or hobby. Also find out what the club does, for example, if it’s the media club, do they just organise a yearly conference and a trek somewhere, or do they also organise more regular events.

Are there fees for joining or attending events?
Some clubs charge membership fees for covering their costs. These can sometimes be in excess of $200 per club, especially for sports clubs. Sometimes clubs may charge to attend visiting speakers on campus. I would say that almost always it’s worth whatever the club is asking. But perhaps those fees are the difference between exploring an area you’re vaguely interested in, and not.

Extracurricular

Can I go on exchange or study overseas?
There are many benefits to studying in another location and many schools provide that opportunity. Some schools offer exchanges to other business schools around the world: LBS students can go on exchange to over 30 partner schools. Other schools offer the opportunity to study at satellite campuses around the world: INSEAD students often split their time between France and Singapore campuses.

Where can I go? How likely is it that I will get to go to my desired place?
If it’s an important factor being able to study away from the main business school campus, you want to find out how easy it is to take advantage of that opportunity. Exchange schools may only have one or two places available to students from your business school and these may been hotly sought after by your fellow classmates. Is the decision based on grades, essays, interviews, or something else? Imagine the disappointment if you select a business school for its exchange programme, only to then discover that you can’t go to your desired place.

Are there weekly drinks?
I think weekly drinks are universally offered at business schools around the world. They’re a great focal point for your class to come together and catch up with people you haven’t seen during the last week (or longer). Often students from different programmes attend, often faculty attend as well, so it can be a great place to meet new and interesting people. But not all drinks sessions are created equal. Ask if many people attend these. And ask if they cost to attend (some charge a fee per semester or year).

What treks are typically offered? Will they break the bank?
MBA students love treks. What is a trek? It’s a fancy word for a trip and they broadly fall into two categories: business treks and social treks. Business treks usually focus on visiting companies in certain industries, for example to New York for finance, Silicon Valley for technology, or Paris for luxury goods. Whereas social treks are about experiencing a new place and socialising with your classmates. Often classmates from the country you’re visiting organise the social treks; it’s a special experience travelling with friends who know all the hot spots to visit!

Treks are a great eye-opening experience and were one of my favourite things at business school. Some treks are generally offered every year, but some only take place when someone can be organised enough. Ask where the most popular treks go (perhaps start planning your holidays now?). Ask how tough it is to get a place on them (there is sometimes a cap, especially on business treks). And ask how much more they’re going to send you into debt. On second thought, you may not want to know.

Jobs

Do the employers I want to hire me recruit from this school?
Don’t take it for granted. I heard of one top consulting company not recruiting from a top US school for a number of years after a certain incident. Also, some locations are better at recruiting for certain industries, for example, the percentage of graduates going into the tech sector from Stanford and Berkeley is much higher than most other MBA schools.

How many people have those employers historically taken? How does that compare with other schools?
One school may have 10 graduates hired each year from a certain company. If this is the company you want to work for, then this may sound great. But ask at another school and you may find 20 were hired from there. Potentially this means that the company has a preference for hiring from the second school and you may be better off there. But you need to look beyond just the base numbers. Take into consideration the class sise. Also, how many of those 20 hires are returning employees? If most of them are returning, maybe the better school for you is the one that only had 10 graduates hired. But take all of this with a grain of salt, as company preferences and hiring tendencies can change from year to year.

How good is the Career Services department at finding potential jobs for you?
There’s many ways to find a job, but one of the fastest and easiest is when your Career Services department is able to get companies recruiting at school and advertising directly on your school website. If the Career Services department is good at this, it may indicate those companies have a preference for hiring candidates from your school.

How good is the Career Services department at preparing you for interviews and jobs?
Good Career Services departments will also run a range of other activities and workshops to help prepare you for your interviews and jobs. These could be: networking and information sessions with companies; help with preparing your resume; practice interviews; practice case studies; practical skills for when you start your internship. Make sure to ask about what the Career Services department does to help students and also ask whether students got any benefit from it.

Other

Do you want to live in that city?
For me, this is one of the most important factors in choosing a school. Perhaps the most important. Your school’s city or town is where you’re going to live for the next two years. Perhaps you want the restaurants, nightclubs, and everything else that the big cities offer. Or maybe you’re happy living amongst the trees in New England.

The location of your school will also likely determine where your post-MBA job is: a West Coast school will get you a West Coast job; an East Coast school gets you an East Coast job; and a European school most likely gets you a European job. This is because it’s much easier networking and interviewing with employers when you’re in the same location. This is obvious if you’re in different countries. But you could be surprised by the difference even between New York and Philadelphia if you’re looking to find a job in New York. It’s much easier and cheaper catching the subway than catching a train from Philadelphia for a coffee chat in Manhattan.

Does the school provide much financial help?
An MBA is a big financial investment and often you’re going to need financial help to pay for it. To what extent does your school help you? It may be that they have a large endowment and most students are provided some sort of scholarship. Or maybe the school has partnerships with banks or other institutions to offer you loans. Not all schools are able to offer this financial support, so if it’s important to you, make sure to ask.

Conclusion

There are no doubt many more questions you could ask to learn more about the differences between business schools. In fact, comment below on what other differences you’ve discovered.

Now that you have a better understanding of where the differences, my final advice is to dig deeper and find what makes your potential business schools different from each other. It’ll stand you in good stead for your application and to have a great time doing your MBA.

Follow me on Twitter at @jrjclark

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Continuing on my previous post, here is a quick (personal) view on the right background / experience / timing to apply to LBS.

While every business school tends to build a community with students from extremely diverse backgrounds, LBS takes it to a whole new level. Pre-MBA experiences of LBS students broadly cover all major disciplines. The largest disciplines include financial services that forms c. 30% of the student population, consulting forms c. 25%, manufacturing is c. 8%, IT is c. 6%, and Retail/FMCG is c. 5%. Other disciplines include Not-for-profit, Energy, Media / Marketing, Defense, Legal services, Healthcare / Pharma — each of these forming c. 3% of the student population. There are minor representations from few others – e.g. travel / tourism, real estate, sports, music etc. Well, the key take-away is that there is no right or wrong background to apply to LBS. It’s highly likely that someone with the same experience as yours is (or was) a student at LBS. However, it is also important to note that if you are applying with one of the common backgrounds – for instance IT services or Real Estate – you need to have a very strong application across all key aspects to ensure that the application covers up for ‘common’ professional experience that you’ve had.

On an average, an LBS MBA student has 5 – 6 years of work experience. The whole range varies from 2 years to 15 years. Ofcourse, a candidate with 2 years of experience will typically have a very strong set of achievements. And a candidate with 15 years of experience will typically have a non-business background and is pursuing MBA at LBS to develop those all-rounded business skills. Please note that candidates who have recently finished their under-graduation and have no work experience should not apply to the MBA programme at LBS. These candidates should consider applying to the MiM programme (please read about MiM here). On the other hand, professionals with significantly longer experience should consider applying to executive programmes listed here.

Finally, the question remains that what round do you apply in. My personal experience tells me that the most important thing is to have a robust application, and not the round. One shouldn’t put in an application in an earlier round if one believes that there’s a potential to improve the application. So, the first step is to build a strong application. Now, there’s not much difference between the first and the second round — both rounds will have a significant number of available seats for a good application to get selected. It gets slightly tougher in the third and the fourth rounds. This is purely a factor of supply and demand. The demand continues to be high, but the supply (i.e. available seats) is low in these later rounds. So, one should consider applying to one of the first two rounds.

For those who need data and statistics for further understanding on professional background, years of experience, and what LBS programme to choose, there’s some very useful information available here

That’s it. It’s pretty simple – (a) You don’t require any particular background to get into LBS – you need an application that demonstrates well-rounded personality, (b) You can consider applying to LBS with more than 2 years of experience – ofcourse, it’s harder to get in with low years of experience than average (5 – 6 years), and (c) You should consider applying in the first or the second rounds.

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As one of the ambassadors for my MiF PT 2013 course I participate in open-door events for the prospective students. I noticed that many of those who drop in to ask questions, grab a brochure and have some coffee + biscuits, exhibit high interest in the school without a firm awareness of which programme they would like to apply for.

So if you aspire to be a part of the LBS community and haven’t a clue which programme suits you most, the below test will help you quickly figure out your personal path of the least resistance in the school.

Which movies are you more likely to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon ??
(a)
“The Godfather”, “La Dolce Vita”, “Avengers Assemble”, “American Beauty”
(b)
“Margin Call”, “Wall Street”, “I don’t know how she does it”, “American Psyco”
(c)
“I am number 4”, “Horrible bosses”, “Thank you for smoking”, “Captain America”
(d)
“Inception”, “Fast & Furious”, “Jeux d’Enfants”, “American Pie”

How do you get to work every morning ??
(a)
“My chauffer Edward calls on me, but honestly, I would much rather cycle to save the environment”
(b) “I get a cab from my Chelsea flat to the City / Canary Wharf” or “I usually just walk – its not too far from Pimlico to Mayfair”
(c) “I am trying to use public transport to save up for an upcoming considerable investment into my further education”
(d) “I don’t have a job yet – still writing my thesis”

How would your friends describe you ??
(a) Mature and classy
(b) Adventurous and urbane
(c) Tenacious and suave
(d) Motivated and agile

ANSWERS
- mostly (a): sharpen your strategic thinking with Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy designed for successful leaders with more than a dozen years of experience;
- mostly (b): dont wait any longer to apply for the world’s premier and ultimate qualification, turning you into a true Master of Finance;
- mostly (c): boost & accelerate your career by giving MBA / EMBA a bite;
- mostly (d): widen your horizons and get noticed with Masters in Management.

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