Category Archives: MBA Admissions

Talking To Your Employer About Your MBA

Getting company buy-in and (possibly) even financial support for your MBA matters.

There are some resources out there to help. Here’s one from the Cambridge Judge School, and another from INSEAD.

Be aware that for study while on the job, you’ll need to secure your employer’s understanding and support, and demonstrate that to the admissions committee.

Judge says: “You’ll need to demonstrate how your employer will benefit from you gaining an MBA.”

Its text is oriented towards EMBA applicants, and references the schools specifically, but the observations are widely relevant to managing employer perceptions anywhere, for all forms of MBA, at any business school.

Note also that many of the topics overlap with those you need to attend to, when writing good MBA admissions essays.

Some highlights:

Know your company

This is your opportunity to demonstrate to your employer that you have thought about the value of an Executive MBA from the company perspective.

Areas you might like research or discuss with your employer:
 Has your organisation ever sponsored employee education in the past? What is their policy on this? Do any of your competitors sponsor Executive MBA’s? Have any senior managers taken an Executive MBA or similar course? What benefits did previous employees gain from their Executive MBA? What were the benefits to the organisation? How might your colleagues/ line managers/ subordinates support you? How can you obtain buy in from your manager as well as HR?

Know your chosen programme

There are a number of Executive MBA programmes available – it is important that you are able to show why you feel the Cambridge Executive MBA is the right programme for you and your organisation.

You therefore will need to be able to address the following questions:
 Why is the Cambridge Executive MBA right for you personally and professionally? How do you expect to benefit from the programme (improved performance, networking opportunities)? Which courses are going to make your more effective in your current role? Which course will directly benefit your employer? What individual project can you carry out that will help you/ your organisation? How will the Cambridge reputation add value to your career and organisation?

Know yourself

This is probably the most important section for you to consider as a complete understanding of your motivation for undertaking the Cambridge Executive MBA will be vital when discussing the programme with your employer and may influence the type of support you require.

Why is this the right time for you to start an Executive MBA course? How will taking this course improve your performance? How will you balance work, study and the other aspects (family/partner) of your life? How do you plan to make use of your personal and professional development?

How to Work the Room at an MBA Fair

MBA fairs are events where many business schools are present in one place, each at a school-branded booth, ready to provide information to prospective applicants.

During Corona times, these have been held virtually. But it looks like, pending anything unforeseen, we are back to live events.

So, how should you, the applicant, navigate these events? Here’s a 10-point guide:

1. Know why you are there. You are there to find out information about schools that is *not* on their Website. Ask questions that will fill out your knowledge of the institution and the program, so that you can make good decisions where to apply. Also, if you find out what’s not obviously said elsewhere, that may give you and edge in your MBA admissions essays or short answers.

2. Know why they are there. The schools pay large sums to attend, and their goal is to promote their school brand and get the best set of applicants. They also want to provide enough information about dates and timelines so good potential candidates get themselves together on time (including getting visas, etc.)

3. Be realistic about how many potential applicants any school rep will see in a day. That is, hundreds. That means she very likely will not remember you when you apply. But you may still reference a conversation you had at the booth, in your application.

4. Keep a savvy distinction in your head between a school rep and the admissions committee. It’s possible but distinctly unlikely that anyone from Adcom is at the booth. You are meeting the reps.

5. Knowing your’e not talking to Adcom, and that the rep won’t particularly remember you, you can relax. This is not the time or place to sell yourself. Ask questions. Find out as much as you can. That’s what you’re there for, and all that matters. If you are simply yourself it’s not going to harm your chances in any way. For the same reason, there’s no need to dress up for an MBA Fair. Dress normally. (Wear comfortable shoes!)

6. Knowing the school rep you’re talking to doesn’t make any admissions decisions –not even the first cut– also means there’s no point in monopolizing their time. Find out what you need and move on. Play nice for others who may be waiting.

7. Depending on your style, it’s worth having a planned route. You will have a good idea of the schools you want to talk to, and with a floor plan you can cover your ground in the most efficient way. But don’t shut out serendipity. Part of the benefit of an MBA admissions fair is discovery of the school you never thought of.

8. Quality of engagement is more important than quantity. Having had a handful of significant chats with school reps is more valuable than saying picking up the marketing material from 30 booths.

9. Go early. You want to catch the reps when they are fresh and when they have relatively more time for you.

10. Keep it professional. You’ll share some of your back-story and motivation in a decent conversation with a school rep, but you should remain at a business-like level. Your time at the booth can’t get you admitted, but it can dent your chances.