With all the gardening commercials on TV these days and my allergies going crazy, I thought I'd devote this posting to planting the seeds for your MBA. For those of you planning to apply to business school in the fall/winter, here are some things you can do now to put yourself in the best position.
- Take the GMAT now. I know this isn't on anyone's top 10 list, but get it out of the way early and save the last few months to work on your application. Trust me...you don't want to be dealing with your application and the GMAT at the same time. To continue with the garden metaphor, this would be the equivalent of planting a rose garden and raking your lawn at the same time. Once you have the GMAT out of the way, you will have much more time, energy and just all-around happiness to devote to creating your best application.
- Start talking to your network. Ok, I know I say this at least once a post, but start talking to the people that are in the jobs that you want to be in. This will give you the best and most relevant information on your potential career. Start looking at your network in terms of degrees of connections. Who is in your close circle that you could tap? Do all of your friends know your career goals? Perhaps they went to school with someone, work with someone, are childhood friends with someone, are neighbors with someone...who is doing the job you want. This world is very very small...don't underestimate the power of an email coming from a trusted friend.
- Begin thinking about your recommendations. Time is the most important factor in writing a recommendation, second only to recommenders who actually like you (just kidding). Start talking to potential recommenders about your business school plans so that you're not surprising them with the recommendation request out of the blue. This will also mean they are invested in your plans to attend business school and will do what they can to help you in the business school process.
- Create a calendar of deadlines. Establish your deadlines early on...especially for those items that you can accomplish in the spring/summer months. The fall will be busier than you think (for all those of you who have just finished the admissions cycle, can I get a woo hoo?). Know where you'll need to spend your time and what areas you'll need to focus on. You may even have time to see your friends in the fall.
- Don't worry about school selection just yet. This seems to be everyone's favorite part...but don't get ahead of yourself. The late summer/early fall is the best time to do this. Right now, admissions offices are holding open houses, making sure everyone pays their deposit or enrolls in the appropriate classes, and perhaps even still dealing with applications for this upcoming fall. The current class is graduating as well. Suffice to say, they aren't going to be able to pay a lot of attention to you when you visit. And in case 5 is your lucky number and you just decided to read this point, there are plenty of other items to take care of before you start making your list of schools.
So, all in all, the early bird gets the worm and has no crab grass. Devote the appropriate amount of time now and you'll be stopping to smell the roses in the fall.
Shameless plug: If you are starting your business school process and need some help, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the sunshine!