Using Covid19 in your MBA application

The Covid19 question is of course front and center in this MBA admissions cycle. There will be applicants who have been cut or furloughed, and some who have not, and it’s better if not, but not the end of the world if you are.

This is because a lot of things have been beyond the control of a lot of people this year. You won’t be penalized for this. But the question becomes, so what did you do?

How have you developed–if not something out there–then in yourself? What impact have you made, somehow,  even when you have been in lockdown at home, even if it’s only an impact on yourself?

Often MBA applicants  think their accomplishments get them in. Or their lack of accomplishments gets them dinged. That’s part of it for sure. But it’s not the whole story.

Another huge part of what gets you in is character. How do you show character? Certainly not by merely awarding it to yourself in empty sentences. You establish your character via evidence, where the evidence is challenges and transitions you have faced, the hard choices you have made (and what you chose), leading to a pattern of personal responsibility and reflective growth.

This is also another way of saying: you don’t need to be some kind of superstar. You do need to stand out, that is be unique in some way, and stories of character can be that way.

Also, character development is often the most interesting thing about someone. What path they’ve chosen and why, how they navigate choices, and what stimulates and inspires a person in making them is much more interesting to Adcom than the bald facts of their career progress.

Furthermore, if you talk about these things, and other things about you that matter to you, you also raise the passion and authenticity in your application which creates a bridge with your reader.

That’s a bridge you can walk across to… you know where.

A Good MBA Motivation Guide: People, Planet, Profit

Oftentimes the simple and clear strategy is the one that works.

When I was reviewing a client’s essays recently, there were many good themes there, and a lot to like. There was evidence of successful interactions with colleagues and teams that spoke well of leadership potential, and a powerful theme of innovation towards sustainable resources use, with career experience to back it up.

But there was no “business” there; or at least not enough. And this put me in mind of the now common mantra of managerial balance:



You’ve seen and heard it before, no doubt. But it’s worth a reminder. The leader of the 21C enterprise will have to do well by and for people (colleagues, staff members, wider stakeholders); for the planet in being a steward of sustainability and of irreplaceable resources; all while at the same time being a custodian of financial investment and ultimately rewarding it.

To balance these three imperatives is no easy juggling act. They drag you in different directions.

First prize in your MBA application would be to show some evidence of having juggled these priorities successfully already.

But even if you don’t have the direct experience, if you can show awareness that you will need to simultaneously satisfy these three competing stakeholder priorities, and give Adcom an idea how you plan to do it in your chosen industry area, you will be well on your way to positioning yourself as a values-driven, forward-looking leader of tomorrow.

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