Thursday, March 22, 2012

On the Importance of Research and Fit

Moving on to grad school or a new job is a big transition in life, and to make the changeover to your new situation as smooth as possible it helps if you are very familiar with where you are going. This is important at all levels: from choosing the right school or company to target in the first place, to demonstrating how you can fit in and contribute to their cultures and systems during your interview.

So..  do research!  For jobs, that means getting a feel for who works there, what the company does, what it sells, and how it differentiates itself from the competition.  For schools, it means understanding (among other things) how its culture and curriculum are different from other programs.  Not only are individual MBA programs very different from one another, but also they are constantly evolving to the forces around them. On that last note, here are a few places to get you started on reading about how the MBA curriculum at different schools is unique and evolving.  

1. Harvard Business School

This Economist article highlights the addition to HBS of a new practical learning opportunity, called FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development). 

2. UCLA Anderson

This article demonstrates the importance of having clear career goals BEFORE applying to the program, as there is now greater emphasis on the internship, and how it will lead you to achieve that short-term goal upon graduating. If you don't know what you want to do, how can you choose an internship that will give you meaningful experience? This is something applicants should consider as they write their goals essay.

Here are some additional details from the UCLA Anderson MBA Admissions Blog.

3. Carnegie Mellon Tepper

According to this article, there will be a greater emphasis on developing analytical decision-making ability and preparing students for the workforce.

Clear Admit offers a writeup of CMU's changes here with additional links.

4. Georgetown McDonough

The article states that, "From the very start of the program, the new curriculum is filled with both classroom and experiential learning that will develop Georgetown McDonough students into innovative, principled, and entrepreneurial leaders with a global perspective to make a substantial impact on business and society."

These are important attributes Georgetown is looking to instill in its students. Of course, if you possess such skills (like the ability to drive innovation or bring an entrepreneurial view to a problem) as an applicant and can highlight them in your application, than this could wok in your favor. The same applies to all schools above.  Show in your application that you already possess some of the attributes they are looking for, and that you can fit in to the culture they currently offer, or want.

I have these and other links at my delicious page. Not everything is related to your next steps, but there are lots of links to topics such as MBA, LLM, employment, the interview, and even the topic of fit.

John Couke