Preparing for your MBA journey

By Hang Nguyen, Global MBA Class of 2018

Deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your career. The journey can be an intensive process from preparing for the GMAT, networking with alumni, reflecting on your career goals to choosing an appropriate program and getting yourself ready for school. In order to help you navigate the application and preparation process for an MBA more easily, I would like to share some personal tips based on my experiences:

1. Self-reflection
Start looking back on your career and also think about the future. Where do you want to go and what field do you want to get into post-MBA? Why do you think it is a good time to go for an MBA at this moment? This is an important step to take, because introspection is the only way you will be able to identify where your interests truly lie and find your own path. This is also to ensure that you do not feel lost after completing your MBA. 

2. Personal research
Do your own research to get an idea of what a typical program will look like. Start reading business publications frequently. This will help you keep track of what is happening in the real world, to understand the courses better and to decide whether it is within your interest to study about these topics in the near future.

3. Networking
Talk to people who have the same career interest or have undergone a similar path as you. At this stage, take the time to listen to their stories about the journey instead of asking for too much advice. Everybody will have a different reason for joining an MBA, so this is simply to help you get a hang of what your life could possibly be like if you decide to go for the MBA.

3 Tips for your MBA Application

After you have done all your research and decide that an MBA will be the next step in your career, it is time to prepare yourself mentally to pursue your dream. Here are my top three tips for the MBA application process:

1. Be well-prepared while remaining authentic
Keep in mind that the admission team potentially scans through hundreds or even thousands of applications. Your goal is for you and your story to stand out from the crowd for positive reasons. You need to highlight all your strengths, showcase why an MBA will be valuable for you at this moment and tell a personal story that can illustrate those points. However, that does not mean you will present an unrealistic story with big words, empty substance and unreasonable goals. Your story should stay true to your identity, be realistic and relatable, and be supported with concrete facts and examples as well as detailed analysis.

2. Be energetic but patient
In your interview, show that you are genuinely excited about the opportunity to join the program. A high energy level along with a well-prepared story will help leave a strong impression on the interviewees. To be able to do that, stay on top of all the deadlines and plan your schedule accordingly. If you have to try forcing out a personal statement or rush to an interview at the last minute, your performance will inevitably be impacted. Proper planning can help you spread out the workload, maintain your energy level and prevent unnecessary stress as the application process can be rather taxing. Learn to be patient as sometimes it might be hard for you to keep up the momentum. You might run into unwanted results; however, learn that it does not mean the end of the road and that there is no hope left. Brush it off, keep your head held high and do not give up. We have all been able to go through it and so will you!

3. Find a buddy if you can
All experiences will be better or less painful once shared. Throughout my application process, I had a friend who was also applying, and we were each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We shared GMAT tips, studying schedules, essay inspirations, good and bad news, and held each other accountable. Having one person who is present, going through the same challenges and understanding the pressure you are going through will help make the process much easier.

I hope these tips can be helpful and reassure you that you are not alone in this journey. Stay strong and confident, and do not hesitate to contact our team of ambassadors if you need some insights in the meantime via ESSEC Talk. Good luck!

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