Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted
When working with Accepted’s clients, we always recommend they have four levels of goals: short-term, intermediate, long-term, and a backup plan. Short-term is immediately post MBA to about two years later; intermediate is about two to five years post MBA; long-term is what you want to do for the long haul; and your backup plan provides a realistic Plan B if you hit obstacles or hiccups along the way. Usually essays ask for short- and long-term goals, but you’ll need intermediate as the bridge between them and sometimes a backup plan to show that you’ve really through things through.
Short-term goals are the most specific, for obvious reasons – they’re closer in time and they’re also the direct link to the MBA program. As you describe successive steps, use less and less detail in each, because the further out you project, the less certain things are. Don’t go beyond what’s practical, e.g., describing in detail what you’ll be doing in twenty years. Adapt each phase to reality too. If your targeted industry (say, healthcare) is in great flux, that point should be reflected in your goals.
Responding to specific goals questions
Different sets of essay questions will emphasize different aspects of the goals; they’ll require different lengths and have different tones. Some are open, while other are focused and directed. The key is to read not just the words but the tone of the question.
Evaluate the question carefully, and emphasize in your essay what the question emphasizes (e.g., short-term or long-term equal or do they just mention post-MBA goal?). In other words, be guided by the question. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring in other elements, but they should support your main points.
Often the question asks why you want an MBA or why you want to attend that particular program. Your respond should link directly to your goals. When advising our MBA clients, we recommend that they weave in their school visit and/or interactions with students and alumni. We advise you to do the same.
Why it’s important to have a backup plan
There are compelling reasons why you should consider having a backup plan for your post-MBA goal. Not only will this provide good planning for you, but it will also enhance your goal essay’s credibility. It’s particularly important if you’re targeting a difficult-to-enter industry (VC, anyone?) or changing careers. By nodding to a backup plan, you’re acknowledging reality and helping the adcom see you as employable.
The challenge, however, is to discuss a backup plan without using a lot of precious space and without sounding undirected. To achieve this aim, focus your goals essay primarily on your main, short-term goal. Then add one to three sentences about a reasonable alternative that you’d also consider, explaining how it would also be an effective step toward your further goals. Example: an applicant is targeting an IT manager role post-MBA with the long-term goal of CIO; a backup plan could be a tech strategy consulting post-MBA job.
Do the research required!
Writing compellingly and realistically about your goals – whether it’s your Plan A or your Plan B – requires research on your part. Digging around on the web for a couple of hours or talking to people in careers related to your goals can yield rich detail for your essays. Moreover, mentioning this research in your essays enhances the sense of commitment to your chosen path. Read up on the industry and its current and future challenges, and conduct informational interviews regarding the industry or business function. Taking this step will enable you to write sharply and engagingly about your goals. It enhances the interest factor of the essay. And realistically, it is research that you should do about any field you’re proposing to work in anyways.
One of the questions you will almost certainly have to answer – either in an essay or an interview – is why do you need an MBA. Will you have a strong answer? Learn how to strategize effectively by downloading Accepted’s admissions guide, Why MBA? — get it here for free!
Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, US News, and Poets & Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.
I picked this theme for my first essay because it goes in tune with why we are all pursuing our education. I believe that everyone that what’s to feel accomplishment in live needs to have a short and long term goals. It is our driving force of what we want to become and where we want to be in any given point of our life and careers. We cannot just go through the motion of doing something, because we will never achieve what we want or who we want to become. We have to map out our goals in life, no matter what they are.
My specific goal (both short and long term) is to obtain my BBA. Although for most it might not be that much since more and more professionals have at least two BBA’s and a Master degree, for me this is what I have always wanted. There have been too many detours in my life that have kept me from obtaining my BBA. I have made this what I want for my own self satisfaction. This is my holy grail until I graduate from University of Phoenix within the next two years.
I have set my time for my assignments and study time in order to obtain my BBA. At least 4 or 5 times during the week I will go over my assignments so that I understand each subject correctly and it also helps me prepare for any upcoming tests. I have made my family part of my goal so that they understand how important this is to me and why I need to have my time to study and read. For this goal to come true, I have identified a space in my home where I can concentrate and do my assignments without any interruptions. I believe that everyone should have a private area where they can retreat work on whatever project they have with as little interruptions as possible.
Since part of my long term goal is to graduate with a GPA of 4.00, it is important to be able to maintain my dedication to my schedule and not deviate from it. I have to maintain my focus on this objective and try to do my best. I also want to continue my education towards my Master’s degree. If I keep to my action plan and keep this objective in mind, I know that I will achieve all my goals. You have to identify your objective, map out your goal and then go for it with all your dedication and will and never look back. Everything is possible in life if you keep at it and never give in to the easy things in life. Anything worth having will always be the most difficult to obtain.