Applying for an MBA at a top global business school is tough so how do you make yourself stand out among all the other applicants?
As well as a matching the minimum academic and GMAT/GRE requirement for your chosen business school, you’ll also need to impress admissions committees with other aspects of your profile, such as your leadership and global experience, extra-curricular activities and interpersonal skills.
Here we offer suggestions on how to improve and maximise your MBA profile, as we begin the recruitment for the Cambridge MBA class of 2018/9.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Self-awareness is highly valued at Cambridge. It’s a key attribute as you learn to work effectively in and lead teams – a core part of the Cambridge MBA learning experience. As you prepare your application and possible interview at business school, showing the ability to reflect on your skills and opportunities for growth, and what you might contribute to the development of others, will show maturity and a willingness to learn – both qualities in the kind of MBA graduate Cambridge Judge wishes to produce.
One of the best ways to develop self-awareness is by seeking open and direct feedback from friends, colleagues, and peers. Learn to accept their comments without judgment and then act on the feedback you receive.
Take the lead or pick up an ambitious project at work
There are several phases of an MBA where you may need to be part of a high performing team – for example on the Cambridge MBA as part of the Global Consulting Project, where you are responsible for meeting the demands of a real-world client. Evidence your ability to do this in your MBA application and interview by taking up new project responsibilities at work and getting the right people involved. If you can make these initiatives have global reach – in terms of outcomes or team profiles – even better! Any experience of working across cultures and territories is valuable experience to highlight.
Be mobile in your role
It’s advantageous to demonstrate your flexibility to adapt your skills to a new role, as you’ll need to leverage these skills both on, and after, your MBA. If you’ve spent several years in the same position, consider making some changes prior to taking an MBA, whether through securing a promotion, a desirable sideways move or, if necessary, a company change. If a title change isn’t an option, look to gain more senior responsibilities or high-level project involvement.
Show that you have passion for something – we recruit a diverse class for the Cambridge MBA, from world-class jazz musicians to rugby players. Activities outside of your work show a well-rounded person, and give you the opportunity to demonstrate other important skills valued on an MBA such as collaboration, creativity and resilience.
Mentor or volunteer
In addition to showing your commitment to a cause, volunteering allows you to demonstrate your organisational and leadership skills within a different context. It shows flexibility and a willingness to pass knowledge that you have gained. Much of being a MBA relies on building a community within a school through student interest groups and activities outside of core classes, so admissions committees will be looking for evidence of this as part of your profile.
Keep up-to-date with business news
Observing how high-profile leaders from all industries cope with the global and digital landscape will help you figure out your point of view and give you an idea of the kind of leader you want to be. Talking about current events demonstrates to admissions committees that you are aware of business issues and culture, which is essential for a global MBA candidate. Be interested and interesting – read business journals, write a blog, listen to audio books and podcasts, and engage with the world. All of this will help give you the global outlook a top business school is looking for.
Attend an individual profile review (IPR)
Finally, if you are interested in the Cambridge MBA specifically, we hold IPRs around the world with members of Cambridge MBA Admissions. They’ll look at your CV and advise you on ways to improve your profile, and your suitability for the Cambridge MBA, and the educational experience at Cambridge more widely. You can book these IPRs online on our website.
Working on your MBA profile is not an easy task, but as well as making yourself more appealing to an admissions committee, it will also help you work out what your priorities are and what you want from your MBA too.