Why MBA? Why XYZ School?
Assess yourself on the following questions:
Where do I stand today?
Where do I want to be in the future?
What skills are required for getting there?
Do I possess these skills?
How can an MBA help me acquire these skills?
Now read through the two scenarios given below and see if you can relate to either of them.
A. Your career goals are a continuation of your career so far, and you would like to take on bigger responsibilities after your MBA. If this is your reason for pursuing an MBA, you have to guard against projecting lack of ambition. You also need to describe as to why you can’t learn the skills at work itself? The way around the situation is to analyze your job responsibilities in detail, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and after listing the skills you will need in your future positions, try to figure out the best way to acquire the missing competencies. There would be some skills that you are likely to gain only at work, while others would be best achieved through an MBA.
b. If you are aiming to switch careers, you need to convince the admissions committee that an MBA will help you make this change. Additional skills and experiences would also be needed. Specify for how long you have kept this goal in mind. Why do you think you are a good fit for your goals? What steps have you taken so far to prepare for the change?
In each case you will first need to show that you are aware of what it takes to achieve your goals. Then, try to describe how you will benefit from an MBA. You have maximum likelihood of profiting from the program if you enter it with specific and clear objectives in mind. List those objectives while answering the Why MBA? question.
Why XYZ School?
While describing 'Why MBA?' you should try and connect your reasons with something specific to the program offered by the school. A simpler case is when the school offers a specialization or a unique program that not many other good schools offer. A more complex case is when your interests lie in investment banking and almost all schools have matching curriculums. You then could look at other factors:
School's location - New York will offer you networking opportunities while studying...
Teaching methods - The case method will help you take over 400 real time business decisions in different functional areas...
Culture of the school - Students not only study in teams but are actually responsible for running several functions at school. You have excelled in team settings and would like to learn and contribute...
Don't go by the above standard answers; find one of your own by researching the school's website. When you connect your reasons seamlessly with your strengths, past experiences or future goals, the results can be amazing. A visit to the school or insights from a present student can be very useful too.
Chapter 1: Achievements
Chapter 2: Career goals and career progress
Chapter 3: Leadership and Teamwork
Chapter 4: Unique Applicant
Chapter 5: Weakness, Setback and Failure
Chapter 7: Miscellaneous issues
During undergraduate school, while focusing on finance, I also took special interest in studying management. Constant interaction with people makes any type of management an ever-changing, thus interesting, occupation.
Towards the end of my first college year, I started working in the largest mortgage bank in my country. One of the first questions I asked during the job interview was whether the bank offers management training programs. Almost two years later, the organization’s training center publicized a tender for a new “Future Management Course”. The requirements included, among others, having commercial-banking experience, as well as a college degree – two demands I did not meet at the time. I did not let this stop me, however.
Knowing that I wanted to become a manager, I was determined to apply for the program. My supervisor supported this and gave me a recommendation for the tender, yet, he claimed that in such a large organization, applying without fulfilling all requirements was pointless. I had to persuade the admissions committee that I could handle participating in the program while completing my college education, and overcoming gaps in professional knowledge. The effort paid off. I was accepted into the program, thus creating two precedents: I became the first person to be accepted into this program before completing a college degree, and the first to do so without any previous experience. The program required that I move from the Mortgage Department to the Commercial Division, where I am currently employed as a Private Accounts Manager.
During college, I decided that when the time was right, I would acquire an MBA education. Now is the perfect time for me to do so. On the one hand, I have gained several years of work experience. On the other hand, I am still at the beginning of my career and believe that an MBA degree from a world-class business school such as Stern will help me mold an effective managerial style.
In addition to these considerations, I would like to make a career change. In my current, position I recruit new clients and market financial products. In the future, I hope to engage more with the essence of finance, rather than the marketing of it.
Upon completing my MBA, I hope to work as a financial consultant in a leading investment bank such as Goldman-Sachs or JPMorgan. More specifically, I would like to help companies develop their equity structure and financial strategy in order to maximize their financial utility. As a consultant, I will gain experience developing economic strategy by doing financial analysis, profit-cost considerations, and research regarding competing firms.
I hope to grow within my organization and become involved in the financial management of the firm, eventually reaching the position of CFO. In this role, I will be called upon to set the financial agenda of the bank, determining policy and deciding which industries to get involved in. I will be required to successfully manage dozens of people, having to motivate and guide them toward executing our strategy. Yet my aspirations do not stop there.
After gaining expertise in capital and equity finance, and acquiring leadership experience, my dream is to man senior positions in the public financial sector. I was raised on values such as actively contributing to my country’s security and future; my grandfather, a building construction contractor, helped build some of first towns in my country. He, my father and I have all been called upon to defend the country during wartime. While my grandfather built the country with a saw and hammer, I would like to build up its financial strength by developing its capital markets. I hope to assume leadership roles in such bodies as the Ministry of Treasury or the Israel Securities Authority. The path of gaining experience and expertise in international financial institutions, and then taking positions in the public sector, has been followed by a number of key figures.
My current position as a commercial banker has given me experience working with businesses from different industries, making credit decisions, motivating employees, and managing campaigns. To succeed as a financial consultant however, I will need to acquire skills in analyzing capital markets and quantitatively evaluating investment possibilities. An MBA from a program which combines a rigorous grounding in quantitative analytical tools will give me these skills.