Defining Your MBA Career Goals in Your Application


Defining Your MBA Career Goals in Your Application

October 17 2023 By The MBA Exchange
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As you apply for a spot in a top Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, it’s essential to formulate a compelling and authentic answer to the question: “What is your long-term professional goal?” This question is crucial not just for your career essay and interview responses, but for your overall application as well. Crafting a strong MBA goal statement brings you closer to your short-term goal of MBA admission and sets a foundation for your long-term career success.

The Importance of Clear Post-MBA Goals

Many MBA candidates find it challenging to articulate their post-MBA career goals. Simply stating a desired job title, like “I want to be a CEO,” may show confidence but falls short of convincing admissions committees that you understand the journey to the C-suite and why an MBA is essential for that path. Admissions committees want to know how you plan to make a difference, what impact you want to have, and how you intend to change the business landscape. Addressing these questions in your career goals essay is key to demonstrating your commitment and vision:

  • How do you want to change the world? 
  • Where do you want to have an impact in your life? 
  • What is the burning problem that you want to solve? 
  • How are you going to change the business landscape? 
  • Where and how do you want to have an impact? 

Why Post-MBA Career Goals Matter

Predicting your future career path can be daunting, but it’s a critical part of the MBA application process. Some applicants avoid this question due to uncertainty or fear of being judged. However, clearly stating your post-MBA goals can set you apart from other candidates with similar backgrounds. Admissions committees use this information to understand your unique candidacy, motivations, and the potential impact you can make with an MBA.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to describe your post-MBA goals in a focused long-term goals career essay or short-answer question that poses that specific question. Other times, you’ll need to weave your post-MBA career goals into your response to an open-ended essay question. You may also be asked to describe your post-MBA career goals during the MBA admissions interview. In any case, there’s no way to avoid this often stressful but always important topic.

The “Why” Behind Your MBA Aspirations

The most significant difference among MBA applicants is not “what” they’ve achieved, or even the “how” of how they’ve accomplished it. Rather, the biggest point of difference is their ability to articulate “why” they have done what they’ve done. Revealing the inspiration, vision or raison d’être behind past actions and future plans is the best way to differentiate and elevate a business school candidacy.

Ironically, many individuals don’t even try to address this topic in making their case for admission. Perhaps they don’t know or have never thought about questions like “why” they’re going to business school. Maybe they don’t feel that the admissions committee really cares about or would understand their motivation. Or is it just too personal and private of an area to communicate to a faceless admissions committee? Regardless of why you, as an applicant, might be reluctant to share the “why” behind your candidacy, if you’re serious about gaining admission, it’s a must. 

Reasons to Articulate Your Post-MBA Career Goals

Before you take the easy route by ignoring the post-MBA goal when preparing essays, consider why it’s so important to include this information. Here are a few reasons why you need to have a good answer when it comes to your post-MBA career goal.

Show Self-Awareness and Confidence

Sharing your professional dream reveals self-awareness, confidence and values in a way that no other element of the application can. You can help the adcoms start to understand and respect you by painting a verbal picture of your future plans.

Explain Your Motivation

The opportunity to gain knowledge, expand perspective and build relationships is appealing to every b-school applicant. Who wouldn’t want those benefits? But there’s a fourth attraction that should be on that list: achieving a specific career goal that would otherwise be delayed or unattainable without an MBA. So, specify!

Align with Target Schools

Most MBA applicants apply to several schools in order to maximize the chances for admission. However, each school wants to believe that it is your top choice, the place where you’ll actually enroll if offered a seat at multiple schools. 

Convincing the adcom that you’re focused on their MBA program requires specifying by name which classes, clubs, events, etc. are most attractive to you. But unless you also identify a post-MBA goal, your list of offerings and resources will be viewed as random selections from the school’s website rather than a truly cohesive combination that you want and need. By identifying the school-specific offerings that will make your vision attainable, you’ll be creating an air-tight case for your admission.

Influence How Your Profile is Viewed

Your college grades, GMAT or GRE results, and job history reflect certain strengths and certain vulnerabilities. By providing a post-MBA goal in your essays, you can help the adcom see the relevance of your strengths and the irrelevance of your vulnerabilities in terms of your future plans. In the absence of a post-MBA goal, adcoms will have no choice but to evaluate your academic and professional profiles without guidance from you.

Differentiate Yourself

No matter which college you attended, which industry employs you, or what specific jobs you’ve held, it’s almost certain that other MBA applicants have comparable credentials. However, by conveying your post-MBA career goal with specificity and passion, you can and will distinguish yourself in the eyes of admissions committees and encourage them to buy into your vision.

Prepare for Interviews

Even those business schools that don’t include goal-related questions in their required essays can inquire about your career plans during the subsequent interview. So, rather than hiding this information in a way that could convey uncertainty or lack of direction, you can seize the opportunity to present it in your essays and then elaborate when you meet in-person.

Confirm Your Rationale

The six reasons above focus on the perspective of the admissions committee. This seventh reason is more about you, the applicant. The cost of attending business school – in time, in dollars and in hard work – is huge. Before you make that massive investment, you’d be wise to consider how you’re going to put all of the benefits to work after graduation. 

Envisioning a post-MBA role and responsibilities that justify the cost, align with your values and fulfill your highest potential will energize you to pursue and make the most of a top MBA education.


Your post-MBA vision should be authentic, unique, and compelling, providing context for your past and present experiences. Avoid generic statements like “I want to be a CEO.” Instead, describe the specific impact you want to make, leveraging your unique abilities and experiences. This approach will help admissions committees understand why you deserve a seat in their MBA program.

At The MBA Exchange, we help clients balance relevance to their past and present with a clear vision for their future in their essays. By digging deep and sharing your dreams with us, you can craft an MBA application that stands out and maximizes your chances for admission.