How to Set Career Goals for MBA


MBA aspirants are asked about their career goals as part of the application process, either in the form of an admission essay or during the interview with the admission committee. This may pose difficulties if you do not prepare in advance to explain in concrete terms both your short term and long term goals.

MBA, being a career-focused program, needs to be taken up with a certain amount of clarity of purpose. So, first of all, ask yourself what exactly are you seeking to achieve by spending valuable time and large amount of money and whether the MBA qualification is absolutely necessary.

Such a situation would necessarily make you focus on your career goals. For example, you have been working in a position where you have to carry out only some specific tasks but dream of becoming an entrepreneur. In this case, an MBA would provide wider exposure to management practices including leadership development.

Now that the long term goal is set, it is time to move to the more specific short-term goals, including the path selection. You could choose management consulting and brand management. While management consulting would give you exposure to different scenarios in various industries, geographies and different scales of business, brand management would provide experience and skills to introduce a product to market.

You will have to do a little bit of research on the business schools offering the subjects of your choice and their suitability by going through the class profiles, employment reports, faculty and other factors. At this juncture, it would be good to contact the alumni, current students and faculty members to get a fair idea about the institute.

Next comes the task of convincing the admissions officer about the seriousness of purpose and how you propose to achieve them. The goals, of course, have to be realistic and achievable. You could train, participate and win a local marathon. But the same thing cannot be said about the long term goal of winning a medal at the Olympics. The B-school will be able to help you achieve the short-term goals within the curriculum framework. This particular point could be put forth at the interview. You may also have to state how the skills you acquired at work would be useful during the program and how you propose to develop them further.

While explaining your long term goals, it is necessary to bring some passion into the argument. Thus, instead of the bland “I want to become the Managing Partner” say that you want to rise up from the ranks to become the CEO. Of course, you should yourself be convinced about the goals and not just parrot the lines set by a career advisor. Apart from the essay, this question will come up during the interview and admission officers would detect any sort of hesitancy.

If for some reason, you feel that the alumni interviewer has been unnecessarily harsh on you and was trying to pick holes in your story, you could always ask for another interview. Do not get upset and approach the interview with the same level of confidence as the first time.

At the very outset, take some time on deciding about an MBA. Plan out the preparations at least an year in advance. Seek out a career advisor or mentor and spend time explaining your career goals. They would be able to iron out any shortcomings and train you properly. Attempt the GMAT or GRE tests after at least six months of preparations to land a good score.

Make arrangements for financing..Full-time MBA programs can cost anywhere from US$20,000 to US$150,000, depending on where you want to study and what type of program is best suited for you. Online programs, for example, tend to be more flexible and cheaper, but they can also be considered less valuable than traditional programs in the eyes of certain employers.

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At this time, you could also sign up for some of the MOOCs (MOOCs) designed for MBA candidates who want to gain business knowledge before getting into a traditional program.(Image