Reaching the necessary requirements for an MBA at a top global business school is tough – from securing those crucial GRE/GMAT scores to, in some cases, attaining the necessary English Language proficiency.
But what are other ways you can stand out from your fellow applicants? Whether you call it your MBA profile or ‘personal brand’. Here are some ways to improve:
- Keep a note of your successes and failures
Be it project outcomes, budget management or personnel management. You will then have a log of your achievements that can then be used as part of your MBA application and in your CV. On the flip side, take note of professional failures – it’s important to acknowledge and learn from these. The same goes for during your MBA study – continuing to track successes and learning points will help you articulate yourself when you come to the job interview stage.
- Be mobile and accountable
If you’ve spent several years in the same role, look to make some changes in the year(s) prior to taking an MBA. Whether through securing a promotion, a desirable sideways move or, if necessary, a company change. This will demonstrate your flexibility and test the transferability of your skills to date. If a title change isn’t an option, look to gain more senior responsibilities or high-level project involvement.
- Take the lead
Take up new project responsibilities and get the right people involved: this will help you recognise your own strengths and the skills of others. Or if initiatives aren’t in place, look to instigate them. Leading an initiative will put you in good stead for the project phases of the Cambridge MBA where you may be selected to lead a project team and responsible for giving actionable deliverables to your real-world client.
- Think globally and identify stakeholders
Take the opportunity to diversify your business experience in order to maximise your exposure to global markets. Any international exposure will prepare you for the MBA and beyond, where you will be expected to show awareness of different business cultures. Think also about how you can evidence working with a variety of different stakeholders, where possible, across a global landscape.
- Master soft skills
Which brings us on to ‘soft skills’, currently employers’ number one desirable in employees. There are many branches to the area of ‘soft skills’ so do some research to understand further. Self-awareness is one theme trending in this area and a good place to start. Read books, journals and practice, practice, practice. This is something that, far from being intuitive, will take a surprising investment of time and effort.
- Be a mentor
If the situation arises, mentor new staff in your organisation, or via a scheme outside of work. Sharing knowledge can have a valuable impact on your own development. During the Cambridge MBA year classmates actively share their knowledge and work to help one another achieve goals, for example, collaborating towards MBA competition prep, sharing interview feedback or hosting workshops in their Student Interest Groups.
Make the effort to organise social events or voluntary activities; these are great for forging better working relationships and refreshing your perspective. Again, use your initiative with this – if your company could be doing more in the voluntary area spearhead this. When you join the Cambridge MBA, you can get involved in impactful charity work through our connections with the Cambridge charity Aiducation, for example, doing projects in the beyond profit space or through the direct opportunities of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation.
- Get connected
Use social media to connect with MBA graduates. LinkedIn is ideal for speaking to MBA graduates with a similar profile to your own, researching career outcomes or joining relevant industry groups or discussions. But be selective when contacting individuals (don’t message en-masse!) – and remember networking should be a two-way exchange.
- Everyone’s an entrepreneur
Or rather, an ‘intrapreneur’. Entrepreneurial activities are a great way of testing your core business competencies – from finance to marketing. If there’s a start-up scene near you, do engage with it. Cambridge Judge Business School has a thriving one, with all stages of the startup process covered. Even if you don’t start your own business there’s lots to be learnt from the community- from growth hacking to pitching for investment.
- Follow your passions
Most importantly of all, engage in what interests you – whatever this might be. We recruit MBA students with every hobby from alpine skiing to dog-grooming. If you’re truly passionate about something this will show through authentically in your application. What’s more, it’s likely you’ll find someone who shares your passion in one of the 500+ University societies available when you come to Cambridge.
- Stay tuned
Get a macro understanding of business issues and culture by being aware of what is happening in the world: across all sectors, fields, and nations. Be interested and interesting – in journals, blogs, audio books, economic papers. In particular, observing how high-profile leaders from all industries cope with the global and digital landscape will help you figure out how you want to lead – something you’ll learn more about at Cambridge through the Leadership in Organisations course.