As soon as we start our MBA Program research, we are bombarded with the phrase “competitive edge”, and most of us wonder what that exactly means. While there is no exact definition, the term refers to the unique strategy we must develop to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the thousands of applicants.
For someone with 3 years of work experience looking to pursue an MBA in a Top International B-School, it is critical to understand that most applicants have at least the same years of work experience, and out of those many have bright academic results, along with a high GMAT score. In these cases, candidates must utilize their exclusive work experience as the competitive edge they bring to the MBA Admissions Team.
Below are the Top 5 Ways in which you can look at enhancing your MBA Application right from the inception until you enter the classroom.
- Get Promoted
Yes, easier said than done. While it can be one of the strongest parameters in your application, and many apply straight after getting one, a promotion is larger than just your MBA pursuit and must be looked upon seriously. One can get promoted to the next higher up designation, or horizontally while getting involved in other products or departments. It could also include handling a team or expanding the existing one. Some might be promoted to another division of the parent or sister company and others might move organizations to receive one. Either way, it will create the impression you want in the eyes of the Admissions Committee.
- Handle or lead a team
In many cases, candidates with over 3 or 4 years of work experience get the opportunity to build and manage their own team. Exhibiting team player and leadership skills is such an important demand of International MBA programs, that most ask a question or two about it in the essay part of the application. Currently handling teams or looking at expanding or acquiring a team from another department or office, in another city or country, constitutes a huge asset for your application. Working across cultures and in different time zones can test exactly what an MBA Admissions Team is looking for in a candidate. This might be easier said than done as well, but nothing spells MBA like Leadership.
- Getting involved in a project outside your Core Responsibilities
This is rather easy to do, especially if you have the hunger to explore various aspects of the business you are involved in. Yes, it can be time consuming, but can be brilliantly used as a tool to expose your time management skills, along with showcase your drive to learn more than what is asked of you. These projects can be for a team you work with on a day-to-day basis or something completely new to add to your existing skill set. It could be mentoring juniors, or redesigning existing company policies, systems or processes that you might or might not have worked with previously. These projects give you the opportunity to work with senior management across various functions, increasing your knowledge, scope and chances of gaining a third, yet critical recommender for your application.
- Working with International Colleagues or Clients
Being multicultural without stepping out of your own country might be challenging, especially if you are working with a startup or a mid-level company. However, most companies now work globally at some level or the other, hence interaction with colleagues or clients outside your comfort zone can be an edge not many showcase in their application. If you have not thought about it before, now can be the ideal time to discuss such an opportunity with your manager. Being culturally sensitive is no doubt a demanding skill for an MBA candidate, as you are not just expected to sit in class and make friends from across the globe, but to already know how to treat every single one of them differently, and together as a group. This is another question frequently asked by the Admissions Team as part of the Essays written for the Application and Interview Round.
- Get an additional Professional Certification
Most candidates try this if all else fails in the time frame from research for an MBA to entering the classroom. This is in fact an official way of letting the Admissions Committee know you are passionate and spent time outside of work and studying for the GMAT to pursue this. It also states you have passed the relevant exams, exhibiting your interest in learning about it too. This certification could be anything directly or indirectly related to your professional experience, or even something you have not explored yet in your career but are keen on. Many companies hold internal certification seminars including technical or soft skill development, and pursuing these shows dedication to your professional growth along with vesting into the company’s interests.
There are plenty of strategies to position yourself amongst others in the race to the MBA but as long as you can ensure that the strategies implement distinctly enhance your career graph and exhibit your passion, the MBA Admissions Committee will be looking at it as an asset over any other aspects of your application that might not place you in the brightest light. If there was ever a day to better yourself, it is today with your without the MBA being your next milestone.