What to do with your pre-MBA summer

Guest post by Jessica Burlingame, senior admissions consultant, The MBA Exchange

The summer before you begin business school is an exciting time. We’ve seen clients at The MBA Exchange use the time to finish up significant initiatives at their current jobs; travel the world; explore short-term internships and service opportunities; and get some well-deserved R&R before transitioning from the job-and-applications grind to the new world of a top MBA program.

These are all terrific pursuits, and any of them – or some combination – can serve you really well as a new admit. We’re here to add one essential, high-value activity that will serve every MBA student before arriving on campus: clarify your vision and goals. A two-year program is so intense, and is over so quickly (with the effect magnified at one-year programs like INSEAD’s, for example), that being as clear and solid on your purpose in seeking the MBA, and your agenda for fulfilling that purpose during your brief time as a student, is key to maximizing your educational ROI.

Some questions to ask, and actions to consider, in this effort are:

Clarifying your purpose: In your flurry of selecting, applying, and committing to a top program, the “why?” that drew you to b-school in the first place may been muffled – or drowned out entirely. Now is the time to revisit those essays about your short-term and long-term goals with some questions in mind:

o Do those goals still excite you, now that you’ve been admitted?
o If not, what’s changed – or what’s missing?
o If so, can you gain even greater specificity about what you wish to achieve?

Setting your agenda: Now that you’ve committed to one school, you can cultivate a deeper understanding of how that school’s specific resources can support you in achieving your goals – and begin to plan for how you’ll connect with those resources as soon as you arrive on campus. You may consider these factors:

o What electives and faculty members will cultivate the skills and insights you seek? How will you approach required courses to gain maximum benefit?
o Which campus clubs, research opportunities, networks, and other non-academic resources show the greatest potential to support your professional and personal growth? How will you investigate and connect with these on campus?

In this summer period, talking with as many smart people as possible about your goals (within or outside your field of interest), and exploring as many "maybes" as you can, will fuel you with the enthusiasm and clarity to direct your studies in the way you want them to unfold. This is the rocket fuel of your MBA experience. We hope you enjoy your preparation for liftoff!