Does an MBA make sense for you

Self-Assessment: The Real Edge:

Self-assessment should be the first step in any major career or life change, including the decision to apply to MBA programs. But what is pre-MBA self-assessment? Before you commit to earning an MBA, you should take time to reflect on your work experience, your abilities, and your ambitions. You should ask, Am I where I want to be in my career and my life? And, What would it take to get there? Assuming an MBA will help you achieve your goals, think about what specifically you want to learn and gain in an MBA program.

Why should you self-assess, and how? With sufficient self-assessment, you will stand out in the MBA admissions process as someone who is prepared and motivated. These qualities can help give you a real edge over the competition.

If you self-assess well, you'll be better able to articulate your career and educational goals in relation to your strengths and experience; you'll also be able to say exactly how an MBA at a particular school will help you meet your goals, and how you will contribute to the program.

Good self-assessment will also help you answer the following important questions:

  • Why am I sure an MBA is right for me?
  • What do I have in common with MBAs and business professionals?
  • What post-MBA careers fit my personal strengths, interests, abilities, and work-related values?
  • What kinds of business schools, companies, and corporate cultures seem to suit me?

Define Your Career Path

Your Career Choices Should Guide Your MBA Choices

The MBA is a powerful tool to help you take charge of your career, but the degree will do you the most good if you have a clear sense of what you want your career path to be and how the degree will further your goals. In addition to your personal network of family, friends, and colleagues, there are many resources right here on mba.com to help you explore MBA career paths and determine whether one is right for you.

Especially in this competitive market, MBA applicants who have solid career goals tend to do best in the admissions process; they are also most likely to be happy with the outcomes of their degree.

Unfortunately, some MBA applicants try to do things in reverse—they apply to business school before they really know what they want to do in their careers, believing that once they get in, they can figure it all out. That's not the best plan. MBA programs typically don't allow you time or opportunity to change your mind about what you want to study; it's best to know what your career goals are up front.

Also, if you have a career plan, it will be easier for you to choose the school, program, courses, and MBA concentration that will help you succeed. Keep in mind that MBA programs are very different from one another and excel at different things. Also, they have recruiting relationships with different companies, which means that you should make sure that the schools you apply to can help get you a job where you want to work. For instance, if you want to be an operations manager at a manufacturing company near where you live, the programs you should apply to may be different from the ones your neighbor should apply to if she dreams of a career in international finance.

You should compare schools only after you're sure of what you're looking for.

Just as you look for the schools that suit your goals, admissions officers look for applicants who are a "good fit" with their programs—people whose goals match what the program has to offer. Being able to articulate a realistic, convincing career plan is an important part of showing that you are a good fit for a business school.

Get Expert Help Defining Your Career Path

It's one thing to have career aspirations, and it's another to ground them in reality by making sure your dreams match your experience, abilities, and preferences.

Once you select the career and the type of workplace environment you're looking for, you will be much better prepared to—

  • select schools to which to apply
  • answer admissions essays and give great admissions interviews
  • ask the questions of admissions staff that will help you determine whether their schools have what you are looking for
  • find the right school at which to further your career

Take Charge of Your Career, and You Won't Go Wrong

If you take the time now to define realistic career goals and learn as much as you can about the career or job you wish to pursue, all the decisions ahead of you will be easier. You'll know whether an MBA is right for you, you'll have a good sense of what to look for in a school, you'll do well in the admissions process, and you'll be happier and more successful when you graduate.