Applying for MBA Programs in the United States

Applying for MBA Programs in the United States

October 14, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


ADVISOR JENIKA HEIM:
Welcome everybody, and thank you for joining us. We’re going to go
ahead and get started now, that way we can give
David his full hour of time. So first off, I’d like
to introduce myself. My name is Jenika Heim, and
I’m the EducationUSA Advisor to Canada. I want to thank you all
for coming to learn more about applying to MBA
programs in the U.S. This webinar will be
recorded so that you can go back and watch
it later for anybody who was unable to attend today. A little bit about EducationUSA. We’re located in Ottawa, Canada. And as the only
advisor to Canada, I do a lot of my
advising online. And if you’re
interested in this, please visit us on our
website and join all of our social media networks. I will have those links at
the end of the presentation, but I highly encourage
you to follow us online. So let’s take a moment
and just say who are you, where are you from, and if
you’re currently or just graduated university, what
university did you go to? So tell us in the
chat your university and what city you’re from. And while you’re
doing that, I’ll go ahead and introduce
our speaker for today. So David Prince. David Price is an
Associate Director of Marketing Admissions
at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which is in
Boston– or Worcester, you’ll have to tell
em exactly where that is in relation to Boston. He joined WPI in 2007
as the Marketing Manager for the School of Business. In 2010, he transitioned
into his current role. David earned a BA in English at
the University of Rhode Island and an MA in Educational
Technology from Fairfield University. Before joining WPI, David worked
as an instructional designer in multimedia training with a
range of small and large scale organizations. So he has quite a diverse
educational background. So please join me in welcoming
David as our speaker for today. Go ahead and take it away. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DAVID PRINCE:
Thank you very much, Jenika. And thank you everyone
for joining me today for our presentation on how
to apply for an MBA degree in the United States. And also, let me see thank
you to EducationUSA Canada for letting us present today. As Jenika mentioned,
my name is David Price. I work for Worcester
Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. I’ve worked here for almost
8 years, the last 4 and 1/2 in admissions. Let’s move on to the next slide. So a little bit about
our agenda today and sort of what we’re going to cover. We’re going to start
out by first looking at a series of different
schools in the United States just to see what their
MBA requirements are, and how they measure against
one another, basically. Then, we’ll do a little
bit of application prep. Some of these you
need to think about before you actually engage
in the application process. Then, we’re just going
to start to drill down into some of the basic
elements of applying for an MBA in the United States. So we’ll cover test scores,
essays, transcripts, GPA. We’ll talk about
work experience. We’ll go through letters of
recommendation, who to ask for letters of recommendation. And we’ll sort of wrap it up
with interviews at the end. Normally with a
presentation like this we might push
questions to the end. If you have questions that
you’d like to ask at any point during the presentation,
feel free to do so. We have a smaller
sized crowd today, so I think it’ll be safe
to say it’s easy enough to sort of stop the presentation
at any time and answer questions for you. So let’s get started. Well, first school we’re
going to look at is Syracuse. As we look through the
examples, what you will notice is all the universities
featured, they each requires sort of the basic
same items, just in slightly different
proportions. So if you look at
Syracuse, they’re looking for two letters of
recommendation, two essays. And a lot of the other
features you see on this list, you’re going to see the same
for the other six schools that we present today. And we’re just going to go
through this list quickly before dive into the
rest of the information. So if we compare that
to UCLA, they only require one letter of
recommendation, one essay. And also a thing
to point out is, they don’t require
work experience, and that’s something
we’ll address later on in the presentation. Next slide. Here Purdue is looking for
two letters of recommendation and one essay. And this is about the only
change you’re going to see or the only big
difference you’re going to see between the
different universities, it’s going to be maybe
the number of essays, it’s going to be the
number of recommendations. Other than that,
it’s probably going to be the price for
the application fee. University of Minnesota,
again, three letters recommendations
instead of one or two. A personal statement,
application fee of $90. Really not all that different. Harvard University, two letters. They do accept the IBT
for non-English students. Their application fee is
$100, which makes sense, it’s Harvard, so. The Worcester Polytechnic
Institute, where I work, we require three letters
of recommendation. Application fee is
different, whatnot. So the key thing probably
to take away from this is not only that
when you’re applying to a variety of
different schools– and everyone does because very
few people apply to just one school– it’s going to be
sort of a similar experience no matter where you go,
but it is very important to pay attention to exactly
what each university wants. Because if you deliver
less, obviously you’re not going to be
considered a good quality candidate as someone
else, or if you even provide more information,
sometimes that’s a distraction as well. So, for example, I’ve worked
with students in China who really want to
get into the school. And so what they’ll
do is they’ll send me more material
than I’ve requested, hoping that maybe the
additional materials will help sell their way
into a program at WPI. And to be honest
with you, I have to read so many
applications every semester during every enrollment
period that I don’t want all the extra information. And so, it doesn’t put
a negative spin on it, but it’s sort of
like, OK, I don’t need all this extra stuff. And I kind of have to
push it to one side and just focus on what’s
most important to me. And what it also says is,
people aren’t paying attention to what I’m asking. We try to be as
straightforward as we can about the kind
of materials we want, and that’s what we
want to receive. And you’ll find that
sort of across the board at different universities
through different enrollment processes is that it’s
very important that you pay attention to
instructions and directions. And you’ll see that sort of pop
up throughout my presentation today. So let’s move on to the first
slide of presentation, really. And let’s talk a little
bit about getting prepared or what should you think about. So applying to business
school, to be honest, can be very time consuming. Many of you may have a full-time
job, family obligations, extracurricular activities. And even if you don’t have
all these different things, the process of selecting
and applying to grad school, it can take time. So to improve your chances of
getting into good MBA program, like I said, it’s good to sort
of take a step back, break the application down to a
series of steps or stages, and start early in the process. It’s going to make the
process a lot more manageable, and you’re going to
be able to create a much better
application, a better representation of
yourself, because that’s where this comes down to. It comes down to you selling
yourself to a university. So preparing in advance
is going to increase your chances of getting
into a better MBA program. Here’s some basic tips. Prepare for the GMAT or GRE. Whichever exam you
decide to take, take some time to
prepare for it. I see a lot of people just try
and wing it and figure, hey, let me just give it a shot
and see how well I do. And they’re hoping they’re going
to get a good enough score. What happens is if they
get a good enough score, a lot of times it’s sort
of more towards the minimum of the scores that
we’re looking for, not the average scores that we
receive and generally enroll in our program. Or they fall bellow the
minimum, and then they’re forced to have to go back and
study, and retake the exams. It costs more money,
it takes more time. Test scores are important
because it’s really the one thing that universities
can use to measure your performance over others. One thing you can
try and do is really try to identify a
target score that you can reach for yourself. So what you might do is take a
pretest, Take a practice exam, see how well you score. And then as you study and
prepare for future exams, you can track your progress
as you take practice exams as you go along the process. It also helps you sort
of uncover strengths and weaknesses and allows
you to focus in or home in on the weaknesses
that you really need to strengthen in order
to improve your test scores. As for how much time to prepare? Well, from what I’ve researched
and heard from colleagues, anywhere from two to six months
depending on your comfort level, really. Another thing to do to prepare
is to select universities. When you first start
looking at MBA degrees, you’re probably
going to generate a long list of schools. My suggestion is
once you’ve developed this list is to separate
them into categories. So pick out, OK,
here’s the schools that are going to
be perfect for me, here’s the schools
that are safe in case I don’t get into the schools
that are perfect for me, and then here’s some
stretch schools. Here’s some schools I want to
challenge myself to see if I get into that type of program. Then break it down a little bit. And at first, don’t
get overly concerned about test score minimums. Good MBA programs are
going to gauge you on the total application,
not just on the test scores. But we’ll get more into
test scores as we continue. Another important area to
focus on, personal reflection. Like I said a minute
ago, your application is a chance to sell yourself. So you want to take some
time to reflect on you are. What have you accomplished
professionally, academically, or personally? We’ll take time during
this presentation to discuss what
schools are looking for you, what kind of
questions they’re going to ask. So what you want
to do is, you want to prepare in advance
an idea of who you are so that
you can then answer their questions effectively. They’re going to ask
you questions like, what makes you different
from other applicants, or in what ways are
you a great leader, or how are you going
to change the rules, and how have you
done so already? They’re going to
ask you about what you’ve experienced, maybe what
you’ve shared with the world. So first you’ve really
got to ask yourself, what makes you stand out
from other applicants that have possibly a similar
professional or academic profile? Ask how you’ve
impacted to the world and how you continue to do so. They want to know
what you’re going to accomplish with the
education they deliver to you. And really, what makes
you an effective leader. Sorry, my computer wigged
out on me for a second there. Just had to adjust it. Basically, when it comes
down to a business school, they’re flooded
with applications every single year– I get tons
of them every single year– and it’s just a lot of
material to go through. So figuring out the best
way to present yourself to an admissions officer,
how you separate yourself from the competition, is key. And to do that
effectively, you’re going to take some
time to prepare. So updating your resume. You want to fill your
resume with accomplishments, and you want to
explain any gaps. Schools want to know what you’ve
accomplished, where you did it, when you did it. It’s those accomplishments
that you will hopefully share with your
classmates, and that’s what’s going to create a rich
educational environment– something that’s
enriching for everyone. And so admissions
officers are looking for that type of individual
to join an MBA program because there’s a lot of value
delivered in an MBA program. It’s not just the information
you take from an MBA class, it’s also the network
that you develop there. It’s the engagement that
you have in the classroom. It’s interaction. It’s a learning
experience you have in a much more collaborative,
maybe case method style of learning, project based
learning, as we do here at WPI. So they’re looking for those
types of accomplishments, and that’s what you really want
to fill up your resume with, whether you’re looking for
a job or whether you’re looking to secure a
seat in an MBA program. It’s the accomplishments. People want to know what you
accomplished somewhere else so that you’re going to then
bring it to their environment. Also, if you have any
gaps in your resume, admissions officers
are looking for those. Those are red flags to people. So you want to either
fill in any gaps or come up with explanations
for why there are gaps. And we’ll get into that in
a little bit more detail later in the presentation. Recommenders. You want to reach out to
your recommenders in advance. There’s some time
saving devices that are built into letters
of recommendation through the online
application process, but it’s always a good thing to
sort of touch base with people in advance so they
feel comfortable with recommendations that
they’re writing for you. You want to be able to
give them enough time to write good letters. The people I’ve talked to,
and from my own experience, they say it’s good to give
recommenders a heads up three to the even six weeks before
letters of recommendation are due for whichever
schools you’re applying to. And like I said, we’ll
talk a little more about letters of
recommendation as we get more into more depth
in specific areas. Let’s jump in and
we’ll start talking about more of the specifics. So for test scores, I’m
going to cover GMAT and GRE. One thing I didn’t include
were English speaking tests, meaing the TOEFL
exams or the IELTS. I’m more than willing to answer
questions about those tests as well. I didn’t know how
much of a concern it was with students
coming from Canada. It is definitely a concern
with students coming from China where English is not something
they as part of their language. They learn English in
a very different way compared to probably how
a Canadian learns English. But if you have any questions
about IELTS or TOEFL exams, I’m more than willing to
answer questions about that. So GMAT and GRE,
basically it comes downs to three things, quantitative,
verbal, and writing skills, but there are differences. So the GRE has three sections,
verbal, quantitative, and analytic writing. The GMAT has four test sections. There’s analytical
writing assessment, there’s integrated reasoning
section, as well as the quantitative,
and the verbal. The thing about the GMAT
or the GRE, four years ago to get into an MBA program,
you needed to take a GMAT exam, and that’s changed. GRE changed it’s
formatting for it’s exams to try and basically
compete a little bit more with the GMAT test and maybe
grab a piece of that pie, part of that
population, and so they changed the format of their
exams for that purpose. And so one what
[AUDIO OUT] schools started to allow students who
wanted to enter a MBA program, they allowed them to take
either the GMAT or the GRE. And I can’t say whether
all schools allow that. And as you’ll find as we
work through this process, some schools will
actually prefer that you take the GMAT over the GRE. They’ll accept both,
but they prefer to take one of the other. And so it sort of gives you a
heads up in terms of which exam you should take. The GRE also opens you
up to a wider variety of degree programs, not
just the MBA program. If you decide that maybe the
MBA isn’t the right track or you and maybe you’d want to get an
MS degrees in something else. So first of all,
find the right fit. I’ve heard people say that the
quantitative section of the GRE is easier than the GMAT. If math isn’t your
thing, you might try to go that route
of going for the GRE. But to be completely
honest with you, if you’re going to struggle
with the quant part of an exam, you might want to think
about a different degree. The quant part grades very
highly with the MBA degree. You really have to figure
out what fits you best. And like I said a
moment ago, you’ve got to think about what
are your choices accepting. Like I said, a few years ago,
everyone wanted the GMAT. Now, people are changing
their minds and saying, OK, you can apply with
the GMAT or the GRE. You’ve got to, like I said very
early on in this presentation, read your instructions. Read your directions
about exactly what the universities you’re
applying for want, and follow those
instructions to the very end. Interpreting scores,
and I’m going to focus sort of just on the
GMAT for interpreting scores. Most business
schools will tell you that test scores are
just one component of the total application. What you have to remember
is, it is the one thing that they can use to measure
you against other applicants. It’s also the first thing an
admissions officer looks at. Generally speaking, when they
first see an application, they look at test scores. If you’re working with
an international crowd– and my role at WPI
is just working with international students
the first things I look at is how well did you
score at your GMAT or GRE and what are you
TOEFL or IELTS scores. So, piece of advice,
if you want to make a great first
impression, take the time and make the effort to
score well on your tests. Don’t just try and slough
it off and just get by. An official GMAT score report
consists of five parts. So there’s the
verbal scaled score. It’s on a scale of 0 to 60. There’s quantitative skills
score, the total scaled score, analytic writing
assessment score, and an integrative
reasoning score. All this you can
find online, and I’ll give you websites soon to do
more research on your own. Your GMAT score also
includes a percentile ranking that compares your skill
level with other test takers, at least in the
last three year period. So basically the
higher the percentile, the better you did
against other test takers. It tells us how well you
scored, but it tells us how well you scored
against your peers within a similar period of time. And to be completely
honest with you, the better your
score on these exams, the better it is
perceived that you can handle the rigors of
an MBA, just to give you a sort of insight as to what an
admissions officer is thinking about. So what’s an acceptable score? Acceptable scores are different
for different universities, and it depends on
the quality level of applicants that are applying
during a given enrollment period. So we start to judge exactly
what’s an acceptable– Let me take a step back. I can tell what we do here at wp
in terms of acceptable scores. So first of all, with the
GRE, if we receive GRE scores, what we do is we
enter the scores into an [AUDIO OUT]
that converts them into a GMAT equivalent score. When they reformatted
the GRE exam, they didn’t make it easy to come
up with just a minimum score. You can score one score in
quant, and one score in verbal, and get a total GMAT
equivalent score. But if I were to
switch those numbers, those exact same
numbers and just put them in the
opposite settings, I get a different
GMAT equivalent score. So we don’t really
have an actual minimum that we use for a GRE. Just like I said, we drop
it into this online tool, it converts it into a GMAT
score, tells us where we stand. So our GMAT minimum
score at wp is a 500. Bu the average GMAT score, lets
say for last fall, was 620. So my best advice for
this type of situation in terms of determining
what’s an acceptable score is to, for every school
that you’re trying to, they’ll tell you what their
GMAT minimums or GRE minimums are potentially. What you want to do is,
you want to also look for what’s the average score
that’s coming into the program? At WPI, 500 will get
your application read, but it’s not going to guarantee
you a seat in the MBA program is basically what
it boils down to. Retaking exams. As an admissions officer, I see
every version of– well, not every version of the exam. I do see at least the last
three most recent ones that you’ve taken that
you’ve at least agreed to submit to my school. Now, I can’t speak for
other universities, but at WPI, we consider the
highest scores you received. If you’ve taken
it three times, I see three different sets of
scores that you’ve taken, you’ve submitted
all of them to me. Even if the first one is
the best set of scores, you kinda went down
hill a little bit. I mean, I frown on
that a little bit, but really, we’re
sort of looking at the best set of scores
that somebody has to offer. And if applicants
have scores that are lower than the average,
it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not going to
read their application because, like I said, we look
at the entire application, but we’re going to
encourage you to retake the scores to at least get
them above the minimums that we’re requesting. I can’t say that
every university is going to do that, I don’t know. It’s just what the experience
I have here at WPI. And then, test preparation. As I said earlier, take a
pretest to see where you stand. Figure out where
you need to score for different universities,
identify the strengths and weaknesses based
on your pretests, and basically work towards
your desired scores. And again, as I’ve repeated,
give yourself enough time to accomplish the task. If you’re looking
for more information, there are a couple
good websites. GMAT exam, you
can go to mba.com. That is M-B-A dot
com for information about the GMAT exam. And for the GRE exam, you
can go to ets.org/gre. And all this information you can
get through your EducationUSA office. I’ll give you my e-mail
address at the end. You can feel free
send me an email if you have questions
that weren’t answered during the presentation. You can also purchase– there’s
lots of books out there. You can take tests provided
by test prep companies. There’s a lot of
opportunities for you to practice and work
through your weaknesses in order to cover as
well as you possibly can. So let’s move on to the next
screen, the application essay. In what way is the
essay important to you and important to an
admissions officer? Well, an essay is really your
best chance to sell yourself. It’s your chance
to tell your story, to persuade an admissions
officer to let you into the program. This is where we
really start to see you as an individual and
not just as a number. As I said, first impression
is those test scores. [AUDIO OUT] The
statement of purpose or the essays that
you might write, I get to really see who
you are as a person. And personally, I read
essays over test scores. Test scores are good
for measuring you against other
candidates, but I really get to know you in an essay. And make sure you read
the directions for essays. It’s something I’ve heard from
a number of different colleges. Is applicants who don’t follow
the instructions, as simple as the instructions
might be, they start to raise red flags for
an admissions representative. Another thing is, have people
you trust proofread your essay for content and grammar. I’m going to say that
again, have people you trust proofread your essay
for content and grammar. So what do you write about? Well, what separates you
from the competition? What makes you different? Well, why should I let
you into my university? The schools basically
want to know if you’re going to be a
good fit for the program, if you’re going to be a
good fit for the classroom. I had a college of
mine mention a acronym when I was doing some research
for this presentation. They were looking across
the internet as well, and they came across
an acronym, PAD, P-A-D, or what you want to
write about in your essay or statement of purpose. And PAD stands for P, provide
a window into who you really are, A, add value
to your application, and D, demonstrate your ability
to express yourself in writing. In a way, this is what the
essays really come down to. So let’s talk about
some common questions. Now, you could got
a range of questions and every school has
it’s own questions, but there are some
basic general themes. The big one says, why
do you want an MBA? Why an MBA and not
some other degree? The fact of matter is
that corporations gently push a lot of people
towards and MBA. It’s understandable,
it’s considered one of the more prestigious
degrees that you can receive, but you’re going
to have to defend your motivation for getting an
MBA to an admissions officer. You’re going to have to look
at your 5 or 10 year plans, and you’re going to
have to say, well, how does an MBA fit
into this direction that I want to follow? How does it help me
accomplish what I want? How does help me
chase my dreams? Another question they’re going
to generally be wanting to ask is, why this university? Why not some other university? Everyone knows that you’re
applying to multiple schools. So why do you favor one
school over another? I’m asking, why is WPI’s MBA
program more attractive to you than, say, MIT? So you want to do your
homework on the schools that you’re applying to. And if you have the
opportunity, visit them. Another piece of advice is don’t
copy and paste from one essay to another. Every once in awhile, I’ll be
reading an essay and somebody will say, the real
reason that I want to go to Northeastern
University is because. And it’s because
somebody tried to apply to five different schools
and, to take a few shortcuts, they copied and pasted
their essay from one school to another, and they didn’t
proofread well enough, and they accidentally dropped
the name of another school into an essay for WPI. I don’t want a student
coming into my program who’s going to try and cut corners. It’s just not going to be
effective for a classroom environment or an
education system. So it’s very important
that, you know, take a look at each school
individually and write an essay that targets
that school specifically and how it’s going
to benefit you. Another key question is,
what do you hope to achieve? What do you want to get
out of this experience? Again, how does the MBA fit
into your 5 or 10 year plans? You want to take some time
to map out your career plan, and then map university
MBA into that answer. Another key question,
and definitely has to do the classroom, is
what skills and experiences do you bring to the classroom? Students expect to learn
as much from each other as they do from
their professors. And when you get into a small
school environment like WPI, Professors want to learn just
as much from the students. So they’re for students who are
going to engage in a classroom. They don’t want wallflowers. They want students who are
going to collaborate and share their ideas and so that it’s
a rich learning experience for everyone in the room. Larger programs
may be different, but at WPI, it’s a very
small classroom environment, and everyone learns
from each other. So when I’m reading
application, I want to see what
kind of benefits are you going to bring
to the classroom? What are you going to contribute
in terms of previous skills and experience? And then the last question,
what makes you unique? Some schools may
ask you directly to share an interesting
fact about themselves. Whenever I am interviewing
students, I always ask them, what makes you different? What sets you apart
from the competition? I get a wide range of
answers some times. I get some interesting ones,
some very unexpected ones. And yet, others times I just
get sort of the same old stuff that you hear. It’s almost like they’re
reading off your website. I want to come wp because
of blah, blah, blah, blah. But it’s really a key
question for you to consider. Now, after reading
multiple applications and interviewing
multiple candidates, if I’m asked about a specific
candidate later on, and I go and I review my call notes about
the candidates we were viewing over an enrollment
period, and I look and I see that one unique
item about an individual, it’s basically like a
flood gate opens up, And all the information
from that interview that I had with that
candidate comes flooding back. So having some unique
characteristics almost, for me personally, it sort of acts like
a keyword to a search engine kind of thing. That’s a great value,
especially if you’re applying to a school that
has rolling admissions. Because what happens
is admissions officers will read a certain
number of applications, and maybe a group of them
for a specific school will read a number
of applications. And then, at any given time
in the enrollment period, they’ll all get
together with all the– they won’t make decisions as
they move along necessarily on all these applicant. So I’m bringing this pool
of applicants to a meeting, and everyone will
sit there and talk about who they think the best
applicants are for a program. And having something
unique that stands out there sort of helps you
stand out from the crowd, helps your application
again stand out from the crowd when in a rolling
admissions meeting type thing. It also, it cements in my
brain certain candidates that I am very attracted to that
I want to attract or to bring to this university. But you also have to be careful. Telling me that you are
captain of your soccer team– or football team being that
I’m speaking to Canadians– shows me that you have
leadership skills outside of work. But telling me that you
get drunk with the team after winning game, well,
that’s not what I want to hear. That’s [INAUDIBLE] positive. As much fun as that might be,
it’s not the type of thing that you’re going to
be able to use to sell your way into an MBA program. Next slide. So transcripts and GPA. Business schools will want
to see your transcript. We saw that when we looked at
the different universities. Admission offices are looking
primarily for two things. We’re looking for
GPA and the courses that you’ve completed
that might apply to your performance
on an MBA program. So what do they want to know? They want to know,
like I said, can you handle the quantitative
work in an MBA program? That’s really sort of
what a GPA tells us. You need to really paint
a picture of who you are. Combined with your
test scores, you need to give us an idea of
what are your capabilities? Every school wants
to see you succeed during and after graduation. So they basically need to assess
whether you have what it takes or whether you don’t
have what it takes. So GPA gives us a little bit
of a window into, all right, this is how you
preformed in the past. Will this give us
a sense of how you might perform in the future? So what happens if your
GPA is too low versus, as I said before, scoring
well on your GMAT or GRE. It can do wonders
for your application, especially if you
have low GPA in your undergraduate experience. Sometimes there’s a
solid reason for a GPA. A death in the family
caused your grades maybe drop over a semester or two. Share that fact with
the admissions officer. Life happens,
that’s a fact here. And sometimes there’s
reasons for why you might have had a severe
drop during your college program and what sort of
dragged your GPA down. But again, maybe you
didn’t try that hard. You know, you were young, we
were all young once, right? And you played more
than you studied. Well, if that’s the
case, now is time to show that you’ve grown up. Show that you’re
serious about the future and, more specifically, with
this specific situation. Again, score well
on your GMAT or GRE. It can do wonders to help
overturn a little GPA. Or possibly, you
can take a course at a the local
University School. Score good on that course. It may not transfer that
program into your MBA, but it gives you a record
of what you’re able to do. Something that you can show
to admissions officer saying, hey, I’ve done this
at another university. I want to bring this is
the same kind of dedication to your university. And one last thing,
completed courses. When I’m looking
at a transcript, I’m looking at the
types of courses you may have taken that
are going to apply directly to an MBA program you might
take at my university. Maybe you don’t have the
right mix of courses. It’s not– at least at
WPI, it’s not necessarily going to stop you
from getting an MBA. But there’s nothing
wrong with just, even like I said, going out
and taking a few what you might consider prerequisite courses
before you jump into an MBA program if you feel that the
undergrad degree that you have doesn’t represent you
well enough or help sell you into a good MBA
program of your choose. It really comes down
to the target schools that you’re looking for. Some schools are
looking for a much more rigorous or specific
undergrad program that’s going to play into the
MBA program that they offer. So, work experience. All right, I’m going
to talk briefly about the two year minimum,
something that’s thrown around the industry a lot. It’s something that
a few years ago it was pretty much required
by most universities that you have at least two
years minimum of work experience before you apply
to a MBA program. That’s changed a little bit in
that trying to find good MBA candidates, it’s challenging. It’s probably one of the most
competitive areas of education to try and recruit students. So some universities have
dropped their two year requirement so that they can try
and attract students directly out of an undergrad program. But what I want to say, and you
can take this to heart or not, I would beware of
universities that say you don’t need the
two years work experience to apply for an MBA,
and let me tell you why. Without the two years
of work experience, after completing your MBA,
you will have the knowledge to be a manager, but you’re not
going to have the experience. You’re not going to be able
to find managerial job. So you’re going to
go out [AUDIO OUT] and you’re going to try
and find work as a manager. And what’s going to happen is,
employers are going to say, well, you’ve got all
this great knowledge, but you don’t have any work
experience as a manager, so I can’t hire you
on as a manager. You’re going to have a difficult
time finding job opportunities, even though you have
an MBA on your record. Now, with the two years of
work experience, it was OK. You’ve got the MBA, you’ve
got some practical experience that you can apply
it to, yeah, you’re more likely to get a
decent managerial job. So what’s going to happen
is, you’re going to take and you’re going to
try and shift gears. You’re not going to be able
to find a job as a managers, so you’re going go to try
and go to another company and get more of
an entry level job to try and earn those two
years of work experience. Well, managers see
through that as well too. Hiring managers will
say, well wait a second, are you just coming
to my company to get a couple years
of work experience so then you can then
apply it to your MBA and move on somewhere else
and get a managerial job? Because I might not move you
into a management position after only two years
of work experience, so you’re probably going to
have to jump to another company. So they’re going to
see through that. It’s basically, again,
it all boils down to weak job prospects. So my best advice
to you is to get two years of work
experience before you apply to an MBA program. The school itself, it’s not
going to matter so much, but for you, after
getting your degree and wanting to get
a better job, it is going to matter
to hiring managers. One thing you want to
do with work experience, you want to share
your specifics. When you’re describing your work
background, be very specific. We want concrete examples,
not vague– I can’t say that one– generalities. And any way that
you can quantify what you’ve accomplished,
the better your resume is going to look. So don’t simply say, we
greatly increase production. When you can something like,
we increased production by 23% between
January and July, it shows very specific
concrete examples of what you’ve accomplished. And again, there’s the word
again, accomplishments, we come back to the resume. What have you accomplished? If done properly,
your resume should list the jobs you’ve
held, but also describe the accomplishments
you’ve achieved. And as I said before,
accomplishments translate nicely into
classroom discussions. Stories and examples,
I can’t say enough about the importance of
stories and examples. Whether you’re interviewing
for a job or a seat in an MBA program, you want
to be able to tell stories about your experiences. You’ll be sharing your
professional and your personal life in essays and interviews. And being able to describe
in detail your experiences is something that admissions
officers and myself, I know, are going to be looking for. It gives me a better
sense of how you’re going to engage in the classroom. So we have gaps in the
work history as well. So again, maybe you took some
time off for personal reasons, maybe you were laid off. As I said before, life happens. And business schools knows
this, everybody knows this, but you still need to have
some sort of explanation. Many universities, you’ll
find when you’re filling out an application, will
provide some extra space on your application just
for this type of use. My advice is keep
the explanation short and to the point. Explain why you have the
gap in your work history, and take full responsibility. Talk about what you’ve
learned from the experience, and maybe how you
spend your time off. We all fall down at
someone point in our lives. Admissions officers want to see
how well did you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and
kind of move on with everything. So letters of recommendation. It really comes down
to the recommender. Their responsibility is to
talk about the great work you have done. It’s really their
only responsibility. And a lot of schools,
as well as WPI, we provide some basic
questions that we offer as part of the
[AUDIO OUT] when you fill out your application to help
recommenders guide what they’re going to write about. A key thing though is
to provide instruction. When you ask somebody
for a recommendation, let them know the
instructions, and there’s nothing wrong with just
requesting that they follow the instructions. I told you in advance
that it’s very important to follow the instructions
and directions when you’re filling out an application. Letters of recommendation
is something that you almost don’t have any
control over to some extent. So if they’re not paying
attention to the instructions, it kind of doesn’t
help out at all. So it’s all right to just
ask your recommendation, I’m thrilled that
you’re going to write this letter of
recommendation for me, just make sure you pay close
attention to the instructions. I can walk you through them
just so you understand it completely. I just want to represent
myself as best I possibly can. And them, who do you ask? Who do you ask to
write recommendations? You should try to find
recommenders that you worked with in some capacity. They should know you well. They should also really
understand your work ethic. And most importantly
is, they should be able to site specific
examples of your work style. Now rank is not as
support as familiarity. For example, if you’ve never
worked directly for the CEO, his or her rank is not
going to help you, OK? So it’s more important to
find people who know you and like you. A question I get a lot of times
is, well, I’m a freelancer or I work for myself or
I own my own company. I don’t have employees that
I can ask for recommendations or supervisors that I
might be able to ask for recommendations. My advice is go talk
to you customers. They’re the people you’re
working with day in and day out. So ask them to
recommendations for you. And the last point I’ll
make is objectivity. Your recommenders
need to be objective. They need to comment objectively
on your work performance. Excuse me. So let’s go move on to
the last item, interviews. Before you step in
for an interview, one thing I would advise is go
through your entire application again. Just be familiar
with the application for the school that you might
be conducting an interview at. Review all the essays you might
have written for that school so it’s all fresh in your brain. And the three top questions that
I would recommend you just sort of make sure you
answer in your head again before you walk in for
that interview is, why do you want to attend this university,
what do you hope to achieve with this degree, and what
skills and experiences do you bring to the classroom? Examples are important. With each accomplishment,
I would sit down and write a short description. Focus on what you achieved. As I said before,
past performance predicts future behavior. Now, many of the questions
you’re going to get are going to be
behavioral in nature. Well, how will you perform? You want to be able to
tell stories and examples to demonstrate that
past performance. Another good piece of advice
is practice your stories. And as you practice
them, try to keep them more and more concise. Remember that good stories
have four basic parts. They have a situation,
something to set up a situation. They have a challenge. What challenge were
you presented with? They have actions. What actions did you take in
response to this challenge? And four, what were the results? What were the results
of the actions you took to solve this challenge
within this given situation? And a few other things
here just they’re small, but they are important. Appearance, make sure
you dress professionally. Don’t wear anything that will
distract the interviewer. Key point, you want
them to remember you, not what you wore, OK? Be on time. Don’t be late, but
don’t be too early. I used to work in sales
[AUDIO OUT] quite a bit, and I had a salesperson
who said to me, that you have a 73% better
chance of closing a sale if you have fresh
breath and a smile. So appearance is very important. Handling yourself professionally
is extremely important. Not just with a job
interview, but with applying for an MBA program. And I guess one other thing,
I can’t tell all the questions you’re going to get because
different universities use different questions. Well, one of the
more common ones is, hey, walk me
through your resume and tell me why an MBA
is going to benefit you. Another just example
of [INAUDIBLE] you really want to take time
to prepare for in advance. And lastly, send
a thank you note. Send a thank you note either
hand written or by email, or even better by both. So basically, that’s all
I have to present today. I just want to say thank you
very much for joining us. I hope what I had to share
will provide you some insight and help you get
rolling and started on applying for an MBA program. If you have any questions,
feel free to ask. Thank you very much. MS. HEIM: Thank
you so much, David, for taking the time to present
this information to us. It was very helpful. So, we appreciate
your time that you’ve taken and all the
research that you’ve done. There was some
great specific steps for students to take there. If you missed some
of the presentation, you can watch the
recording, which I will put on our YouTube channel. As you can see, all of
our social media channels are listed here so please follow
us on these various channels that you use. My email address is
[email protected], feel free to email me if you’d
like to engage in one-on-one advising about applying to
MBA or any other program in the U.S. I’d also like to draw your
attention to the U.S. College Expo, which is coming up. This is 2015, April 11th
through 18th in four cities across Canada. This is exclusively
U.S. universities that will be coming into town
to discuss their programs. So if you are interested
in studying in the U.S., I highly recommend
that you attend. Thank you again,
David, and you can expect my thank you note as
well after the presentation. I hope everyone has a great
day, and we look forward to joining us for
our next webinar.