How to improve your MBA profile for top business school admissions
Written by Sameer Kamat
The question pops up on various forums frequently and there are two categories of guys who want to know. The first set are a few months away from application deadlines and have recently realized that their competitors look and sound better on paper than they do. This is the ‘uski kameez meri kameez se safed kaise’ syndrome. We aren’t talking about this category in this post (if there’s a strong response from apne bhai log out there asking for an answer, we could think about covering this later). For now we focus on the other category – those who have started their MBA preparations early and want to leave no stone unturned to ensure that their profiles fit into the ‘ideal MBA’ applicant framework.
Awright. First myth breaking moment. There is no ‘Ideal MBA’ applicant [glass shattering sound in the background]. MBA Admission Committees (Adcoms) aren’t looking for an ‘A’-list candidate with Aamir Khan’s creativity, Amitabh’s baritone, Amartya’s Sen’s intellect and Ambani’s business sense. Even if they did, they wouldn’t find anyone…as MCB team members have already completed their MBA degrees long time back (no, we aren’t arrogant, we just have a warped sense of humour that is difficult to rectify at this age).
But there is a set of characteristics that most Adcoms would find interesting in Indian candidates, an applicant pool that looks notoriously homogeneous. And the ‘A’ list that we just spoke about has some pointers to help us out. Let’s go backwards with it.
Business sense: You don’t need to be Ambani, but you do need to have a basic understanding of how businesses function. You pre-MBA performance is a good way to highlight that. If you’ve had a strong professional background, you’ve been better than your peers and you’ve shouldered more responsibilities than your job description warranted – then you are doing good, baby.
Intellect: This is the raw mental brainpower that drives most initiatives in your personal or professional lives. And if you aren’t found lacking in that department it would be relatively safe for employers and Adcoms to assume that your efforts would be in the right direction and that would benefit the organisations and institutions that you are associated with. Your academic grades, your GMAT score and the fact that you are sincerely committed to leaving your Farmville obsession behind would be good indications.
Communication skills: No baritone needed when you are making presentations and trying to sell a product or a service or just an idea. Though it’ll be nice if you don’t sound like the result of a cross-breeding experiment involving Minnie Mouse and The Great Khali. Ultimately it all comes down to your ability to assimilate all available data, structure your thoughts in your mind before your vocal chords expose your brilliant mind to the eager world waiting out there. For B-school applications, Adcoms will use your essays and your interview to judge this.
Creativity: This is an area where even the best business school will not be able to help you. But it’s that 1% inspiration that you’ve got to arrange by yourself so it helps you utilise the remaining 3 faculties. Aamir might have come up with that bald-attendants-in-every-theatre marketing gimmick for Ghajini that everyone in the media went gaga over. That’s the creativity part. For the remaining 99%, it came down to his ability to plan, schedule, communicate and execute the plan. Use your extra-curricular activities to demonstrate aspects where you’ve demonstrated creativity, leadership, and anything else that makes you an interesting candidate that your classmates would love to hang out with after your MBA classes are over.
If you have time on your hands to sculpt your profile, try looking at these 4 areas and see where you currently need some work. Did you find this post useful? Let us know. Any specific departments that you are struggling with?