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Navigating Beyond COVID-19 Towards Your MBA Dreams

April 7 2020 By The MBA Exchange
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by Deepak Punwani, Master Consultant at The MBA Exchange

During this unprecedented global COVID-19 crisis, everything we may have taken for granted including our physical security and economic stability has changed. Even your MBA plans may have become less clear. Are you less inclined to look ahead during these uncertain times? Do you work in an industry that may not rebound quickly from a recession? Had you planned to apply next year and now wonder if you should accelerate your timeline? While you may feel you are paddling aimlessly through muddy waters, one thing remains clear: in every crisis there are opportunities and now could be the perfect time to look ahead with purpose and plan your MBA admissions campaign. We can help you use the coming months to your advantage.

Consider these trends:

1) Reflection vs. achievement
For the first time in history, the entire world has taken a collective pause. Even extroverts are being forced to isolate, to slow down, to strip life of extraneous activity and achieving, to reflect. Since the most effective MBA application essays are deeply reflective, we can help you use your social distancing time to look inward and consider “why” as well as “what” when drafting your stories.

2) Standardized test scores – less of a gate keeper
With standardized testing centers closed for the foreseeable future, schools are becoming increasingly flexible about testing requirements. If a less than stellar GMAT or GRE score has kept you from applying to your dream school in the past, now is your moment! This is your chance to impress admissions committees with your other hard-earned credentials with less potential prejudice stemming from your performance one day on a test.

3) Virtual reality is THE reality
Virtual relationships and connections are now mainstream. Platforms such as Zoom have become the boardrooms and water coolers of our lives. So, expect more of the MBA application process to become virtual. Already Kellogg has suspended its face-to-face interviews and will be interviewing everyone virtually. Applicants who know how to present themselves well virtually will have an edge. So, use this time to sharpen your online communication skills.

4) Community counts
This is the first world event where every human is fighting a common enemy. We are ALL in it together, redefining the dynamic between competition and collaboration. Candidates with individually-oriented, competitive-natured profiles have never been favoured by admissions committees. This will be even more evident in the near future. Community orientation and collaboration will graduate from being mere buzz words to traits that applicants must demonstrate in order to be successful. Wharton and Michigan Ross have been assessing team orientation as part of their applications and we expect more schools may add similar assessments going forward. Use your time now to cultivate community, even virtually, and you will reap the benefits in your candidacy.

5) Technology sector recruitment bounces back fastest
There is no doubt students graduating this year face one of the toughest job markets. But “this too shall pass.” And when it does, companies will be looking for fresh talent unscarred by COVID-19 fallout. One prediction is that the technology sector might bounce back the fastest. Already sectors such as ecommerce, online gaming, health-tech, and ed-tech are seeing new customers come on-board in droves. This trend will pick up pace once the battle against the virus has been won. So, expect tech companies (especially those connected with health and wellness) to be one of the largest recruiters across campuses, hungry for new MBA talent for years to come.

6) Here and now vs. a vague future
The illusion of being in total control of our lives has been shattered. Nevertheless, Adcoms are more interested in your specific “here and now” plans vs. vague and generic long-term goals. If you can paint a vivid picture of your post-MBA goals, and exactly how you will make your vision a reality, you will have an upper hand. This may be challenging during these uncertain times; however, it’s still very important.

7) The rise of the mentor – alumni
Feeling an uptick in empathy, and “disposable” time, alumni may be more willing and able to share their perspectives with those who want to follow in their footsteps. For MBA applicants, this may be the best time to tap into alumni resources to learn about their experiences at schools and in their respective careers and use their perspective to sharpen their stories.

In summary, we encourage MBA applicants to imagine life beyond the current muddy waters and steer towards the calm, clear, pristine shoreline by riding the wave of these trends. From developing your goals, to cultivating alumni mentors, to reflecting on what makes you much more than a test score or the sum of your achievements, we can help.

If you’re still feeling uncertain and anxious about the best course toward your MBA dreams, contact us today or request a free evaluation of your candidacy. During this time of COVID-19, you may be physically isolated, but you don’t have to travel your MBA admissions path alone.