Information, news, reviews and business school rankings for global MBA programs

How to Use Startup Experience in An MBA Entrance Essay

When you were applying to your undergraduate college, the essays were all about showing off your diversity and SAT skills. Maybe you waxed poetic about that summer you spent building houses with Habitat for Humanity in El Salvador.

Maybe you even included a photo of the time you won the clarinet competition. Or you leaned on the fact that you worked a half-time job throughout high school to pay for your first year on your own. That was all great stuff for an 18-year-old.

Now that you’re applying for an MBA, and the competition is going to be fierce no matter where you’re applying. Plus, MBA committees don’t care as much about test scores (does it really matter if you’re in the top 10 percent on your verbal?) and extracurricular activities as they do about what you’ve done to prep for the program and degree.

If you’ve been involved with a startup, you’ve already received a crash course in MBA studies and that’s a good thing. Use the six lessons below that you probably learned in the process to get you into that grad program.

1. Match your experience to the course descriptions

This is a great tactic, but don’t make it obvious (in other words, don’t repeat the course descriptions verbatim, but paraphrase them). For example, if one of the required classes is “Digital Marketing,” highlight how you headed up the Facebook campaign for your startup or designed an app that tied in with an e-newsletter you wrote on a monthly basis.

In this instance, you can certainly use the term digital marketing. But if the course is something a little more long-winded, you’ll have to change up the wording.

2. Highlight what you can give

MBA programs aren’t philanthropic organizations that really want to teach you everything there is to know about business. They choose students based on what each applicant can give and provide to the classes, the school, and the university as a whole.

The essay is your opportunity to highlight what you can bring that most other applicants can’t, whether it’s your experience with the 501(c)3 process or how you dealt with foreign clients.

3. Highlight what you can get

That being said, grad schools also want to choose applicants who will get the most out of their program. Show them you know what their courses are about, and make sure the committee knows this is your top choice (even if you have five other top choices).

It’s kind of like during a job interview, where you let the person know you’ve done your research on the company.

4. Describe your innovative funding

As a startup, you probably got a little creative when it came to drumming up capital. You’ll need to do the same thing when it comes to funding your MBA.

What will a committee think of an entrepreneur who’s asking for a full-ride scholarship with absolutely no mention of how he or she has come up with funding for a company? Many essays request a mention of how you’ll fund your education, so compare the funding outreach in your startup to your funding outreach for your education.

5. Showcase your preparation for round two

Being part of a startup is an excellent way to make a lot of mistakes and learn from experience. So why an MBA now? Let the committee know the mistakes you made, what you learned, and how their program can help you perform even better the next time around. Whether or not your startup is successful is moot; it’s all about the journey.

6. But don’t focus just on the startup

The fact that you were involved in a startup should be the foundation of your essay, but it shouldn’t be everything. Like it or not, committees still want diversity.

So talk about that volunteer trip to Ghana. Mention that monetized blog that has nothing to do with the startup. Most importantly, hire a professional writing service to give your essay that magic touch.

The 30 Day MBA Series

A while ago we reviewed Colin Barrow’s book The 30 Day MBA. Here we review the new and improved 2nd Edition 

together with three new titles in series.

About Colin Barrow:

Colin Barrow has had a varied and interesting career starting in the Army or his ‘family business’ as he calls it. He then starts a career in sales, but soon discovers that he has little visibility to the real business challenges that his employer faces and quickly becomes disillusioned when a business case he presents to his boss is rejected by the board for reasons he cannot fathom. It is a few months later when he finds out the real reason why his business case was rejected and it is then that he realises that he, along with most employees, had a very limited awareness of the bigger picture. It is this event that spurred Colin to leave and study for an MBA, which was later followed by a varied and successful career working all around the globe.

The great thing about Colin’s books is that he clearly remembers what it was like to be that employee with a limited understanding of his employer’s business and as such these books are packed full of practical examples and solutions that really help the reader to understand what is a complex subject matter.

These books are a must read for any MBA student, prospective MBA student or in fact anybody with the ambition of becoming a future business leader!

 

The 30 Day MBA 2nd Edition

The 30 Day MBA is well organized and intuitively structured, with 13 core disciplines covered:

  • Accounting
  • Business History
  • Business Law
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Ethics and Social Responsibility
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Organizational Behaviour
  • Personal Development
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
  • Strategy

A couple of things that stand out with these core disciplines is that business history is covered and there is also a substantial amount of time given to sales within the marketing section, two subjects that are often glaring omissions from MBA curriculums!

The book is packed full of case studies to help readers understand complex business scenarios and the links to business information resources would benefit even the most experienced managers!

 

The 30 Day MBA in Marketing

Once again this book is conveniently organized into core disciplines and explains the key tools and concepts needed to asses a wide range of business situations. The book intend to help readers in the following ways:

  • Find and analyse market data
  • Eliminate marketing knowledge gaps
  • Give your business and its product or services a real competitive advantage
  • Revise for marketing-focussed exams
  • Access hundreds of free marketing tools and resources

Even the most experienced marketeer could learn a few tricks from this fantastic book!

 

The 30 Day MBA in International Business

At Global MBA Report we have often discussed the rise of emerging economies such as India and with mega brands like Google, Microsoft, McDonalds, Apple, HSBC etc all being truly global, and the main recruiters of MBA graduates, it is essential for the modern business leader to have a firm grasp of international business.

The book contains many of the same core disciplines from The 30 Day MBA but in an international context and with the addition of ‘Selecting and maintaining global partners’, which overs mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, selecting local partners, negotiating alliances, exercising managerial control, reporting procedures and systems.

A really useful book for anybody who plans to be a global business leader of the future!

 

The 30 Day MBA in Business Finance

This book takes a deeper dive into the world of business finance and covers the following core disciplines:

  • The fundamentals of business finance
    • Business reports
    • The rules
    • Analysing financial reports (really useful!)
    • The role of finance in creating value
  • Corporate capital structures
    • The role of business structures in financing businesses
    • Debt finance
    • Asset financing
    • Working capital funding
    • Equity
    • Mezzanine finance
  • Financial strategies and specialist topics
    • Risk management
    • Business tax and reporting
    • Mergers and acquisitions
    • Business plans and budgets
More than ever with this book the case studies and examples really help the reader to understand the often dry and complex world of business finance. After 30 days with this book you will certainly feel more able to converse with, and possibly challenge, your Finance Director!

All in all a great set of books and reasonably priced too.

What can an MBA do for your career?

This article will explore various routes on how MBAs can sharpen up your skills to become a true, all-round leader of a successful organisation.

According to a recent report by CBS News, a Master’s of Business Administration, is a waste of time and money – this is simply not true. The truth is once you graduate from business school, it’s up to you what direction you want to go. Getting an MBA shows people that you mean serious business about your career goals and you refuse to feel stagnant in your career.

Let’s get one thing straight:  it is not for the clueless or the undecided – it shouldn’t be looked upon as a last resort when the going gets tough.  As these degrees are quite costly, it is best that you have a focused plan mapped out – knowing your next career move, knowing the industry you want to work for and what you want to achieve. If you have some valuable business experience behind you, even better! After all you can bump up your salary to the region of £65-£70K – and that’s excluding bonuses! Furthermore, you can take off anywhere in the world with this, as MBAs are internationally recognised.

So how can an MBA enhance your career? In a nutshell it helps you perfect the existing communication and management skills.  During the program your eyes will be opened to every aspect of a business organisation – sales, marketing, human resources and project management and how these departments work in sync together. Above all, you will be encouraged to think outside the box, to spot relevant and irrelevant information in a split second and how to spot and overcome unforeseeable problems and issues.  You will also be taught how to develop, in the broadest sense, people skills and strengthen existing relationships with co-workers by setting attainable goals. In fact once you have an MBA under your belt, you’re looked upon as a true leader of an organisation!

Despite the world of advantages it brings, there’s one thing you need to bear in mind – once you get that MBA, it does not guarantee a managerial position.  So if your place of work that doesn’t recognise the benefits of your hard work, then it’s time to seek for organisations that see the significance of having the business qualification.  This is where the networking skills come into play: In MBA courses, there are opportunities to mingle with fellow students and alumni to seek out exciting new opportunities. Remember these fellow students are also professionals with potentially valuable contacts.

There is another way of finding out whether the qualification is of value to your desired organisation: look up the bios of current chief executives and see if they hold similar qualifications.

So what’s the moral of this story? If you work hard for your MBA, in the long run your MBA will work hard for you!

Students from India & China keeping the full-time MBA alive!

With applications for online, part-time and executive MBA programs on the decline, the number of students enrolling in full-time courses are being kept high by international students.

The latest results from the GMAC annual survey suggest that business schools in the US are benefiting from an influx of foreign students, particularly from emerging markets such as India and China whereas applications to schools in the Asia Pacific regions are in decline.

Executive MBAs seem to have been hit the worst with less employees looking to further their career through business education. This could be more of a reflection on the employers themselves with less companies willing to fund courses and everybody expected to work longer hours.

So what does this mean for the future of business schools and are they doing enough to attract the ambitious students and employees? Some business schools can appear to lag behind the times when it comes to advances in technology and perhaps this is putting potential students off? Can these large, and often set in their ways, establishments survive in a world where the ways of doing business change almost daily?

Another problem for b-schools is the rise in young entrepreneurs fuelled by the huge leaps made in digital technology in recent years. High profile figures such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk famously both dropped out of higher education and yet still went on to be incredibly successful and make vast sums of money! Spending 10 years working your way up the corporate ladder suddenly doesn’t seem attractive any more when you can access venture capital money and start something up with your friends and have a ball while getting rich!

It will be interesting to see whether this website evens exists in 5 years, will I have anything to write about?

MBA Influencers

A whole industry exists around providing advice and guidance on which business school to apply for and how to get accepted. In this article we look at some of the key movers and shakers within this sector.

In no particular order, here are some of the people with their finger on the pulse when it comes to all things MBA!

 

Stacy Blackman

An MBA graduate from Kellogg herself, Stacy has been providing advice on business school admissions since 2001 and is responsible for the MBA Admissions: Strictly Business blog on US News.com. A keen user of social media, you can also follow Stacy on Twitter @stacyblackman.

 

Linda Abraham

Linda is the founder of Accepted and has been helping wannabe business leaders get accepted at their business school of choice since 1994. The core business is helping prospective MBA students to write engaging personal statements and application essays. Linda has also authored numerous books on the subject. Another proficient user of social media, you can check Linda out @Accepted.

 

John A Byrne

John is the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of C-Change Media Inc who are responsible for a number of business websites, the most relevant to this topic being Poets & Quants. John is an extremely well respected author and his articles are often featured by many of the leading business websites and blogs, besides being an author he also specializes in dissertation writing service.

 

If you haven’t heard of these people then you should go and check them out now!

Also, let us know if you think we have missed somebody really important.

Should I go to Business School?

The question of whether you should attend business school depends on you.  It is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer because it will affect you differently based on your personal background.  Business school is just a training ground for graduate students to study business and gain skills and knowledge that will either help them advance in their current positions or help them start their own businesses.  It is just like attending any other type of graduate school and there is obviously no guarantee of whether or not you will actually be able to get a job once you have graduated.

How Do I Apply to Business School?

You will likely need to have 1 year or 6 months at the most to prepare yourself to apply to business school.  Most business schools require that all applicants have a bachelor’s degree in any subject area, a college transcript, a GMAT test score, two recommendations, an application essay, and a completed application form.  The admissions cycle for business schools usually begins in the fall semester around August or September and all of the application materials must be submitted around December or January.  It will likely take you a while to compile all of the materials so it is recommended that you get started working on them as soon as you realize that you want to go to business school.

On average, the business schools will expect that you have at least a 3.0 GPA, a strong work background, excellent recommendations, and a decent GMAT test score in the 600-800 ranged.  The more selective business schools have a more rigorous application process and it is likely that may you need to have a back up plan in case you do not get in.

How Do I Pay for Business School?

Business school is definitely not a prerequisite for having a career in the corporate world, so it will be largely your responsibility to pay for it.  Most business schools around the country cost upwards of $30,000-$60,000 per year and that may not even include all of your other personal expenses.  There are some opportunities to receive scholarships, grants, and financial aid, but there is very limited funding for these programs and chances are that the money you will receive will not be enough to cover all of your costs.  These programs are very competitive and they tend to give money to the top candidates only.  Some employers provide tuition reimbursement programs that will pay for a certain percentage of the tuition, but that is something that you must discuss with your employer.  The only other way to pay for business school is to take out student loans.  Student loans are not offered as freely as they were in the past, but they are still available and you must be very careful about how much you borrow.

The other difficult aspect of paying for business school is the fact that you may have to take time off from work in order to complete your studies.  Although there are a lot of part time and online business schools, the most selective programs are for full time study only.  The top business schools like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford actually prefer that serious candidates pursue two years of full time study on campus.  Either way, you will still have to take time out of your day to study the materials and attend classes whether they are online or on campus.

The Advantages of Attending Business School

– Additional education

There is always an advantage to having some additional education and attending business school will give you a master’s degree at the end of day.  You will always be able to use your education in some capacity and no one will be able to take it away from you.  It could lead to more jobs, higher pay, or even the start of your own business.

– Greater chances of employment or advancement

In general, having an MBA will improve your chances of getting a job and it will also help you advance in a company at a much faster rate.  A lot of major corporations target new business school graduates for their entry level management positions and even smaller companies are eager to have them as well.  If you are working at the same company, then they will probably promote you even faster since you have more credentials.  Many times these positions will also pay more money than average, so you could end up earning anywhere from $60,000-$100,000+ depending on the specialty and company.

– Learn entrepreneurship skills

Since you will learn everything about business during your classes, it is presumed that this knowledge will allow you to start your own business.  You will have inside knowledge about how businesses really operate and what types of practices make them successful, so you can do the same for yours.

The Disadvantages of Attending Business School

– It will temporarily halt your career

Going to business school will temporarily halt your career because you will have to devote your time and energy to attending classes and studying.  A lot of schools prefer that you spend to two years studying full time because it is much faster, but you can opt to attend part time or online for about 2-4 years depending on the program.

– Very expensive

There is really no way around the fact that it is expensive to attend business school.  There are grants and scholarships available, but they will not cover everything in most cases and you will have to pay for a lot of things out of pocket.  You will have to decide what your education is worth and how much you can afford to borrow.

– Not worth the cost unless you attend a top tier business school

Unfortunately, most employers do not care very much about the lower ranked business schools.  They may see that you have an MBA, but the top companies will not recruit you from those schools and they will still offer you average salaries.  MBA programs are not created equal and they have different courses, recruiters, and networking opportunities.  Employers will only start to pay attention if you attend one of the top tier business schools.

– No guarantee of a job or promotion

In more recent years, a lot of new grads have had a lot of difficulty finding work.  No matter what school you came from, there is no promise that you will get a job when you graduate.  Your company may or many not decide to promote you after you have finished the program.  You must be prepared for either one of these outcomes even if you attend a top business school.

Business school holds a lot of opportunities for highly motivated students, but it is definitely not for everybody.  Make sure that you know exactly what you are going to do with your degree when you graduate and set goals in terms of what you want to accomplish while you are in school.  There is no guarantee that you will get a better job or earn more money, but it is a step in the right direction.

TOEFL – the basics

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is designed to evaluate the ability of an individual to use and understand the English language specifically in an educational setting.

TOEFL is actually a trade mark of Educational Testing Service (ETL) and is applicable globally.

TOEFL is a very important if you are planning to study in an English-speaking country and English is not your first language.

TOEFL measures student’s ability to use and understand the English language in reading, writing, listening and oral forms. More than 7,500 universities, agencies, and other institutions in more than 130 countries accept TOEFL as part of their admissions criteria.

These days the majority of students will take an Internet-based Test (iBT) or TOEFL iBT as it is often referred to. Although initially, the demand for test exceeded capacity, and candidates often had to wait for months, it is now possible to take the test within one to four weeks in most countries.

TOEFL is a four-hour test consisting of four sections main sections:

1. Reading
2. Listening
3. Speaking
4. Writing

Some tasks require integrating multiple skills and all tasks focus on language used in an academic, higher-education environment.

There are a number of organizations offering help with TOEFL – here is a selection:

http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/
http://www.toeflgoanywhere.org/
http://esl.about.com/cs/toefl/a/a_toefl.htm
http://www.testprepreview.com/toefl_practice.htm
http://www.myenglishteacher.net/toefl/

Financial Aid for Business School

So you’ve decided that you want to get a management qualification and you’re researching what business school you think will give you the best chance of future career success. Then you look at the cost! It can be a really daunting prospect when you first realise the financial implications of getting in to your chosen business school and it is not a decision that anybody should take lightly.

Before you even consider getting financial aid to enable you to get in to your first choice business school, you must make sure you are being realistic and that you have taken all other costs, not just fees, into consideration.

If you have your heart set on a top business school then here are the top 10 business schools ranked by ‘value for money’ according to the Financial Times Top 100 Business Schools Global MBA Ranking 2011:

 

1. University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, South Africa

2. University of Strathclyde Business School, UK

3. Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Belgium

4. INSEAD, France/Singapore

5. Cranfield School of Management, UK

6. IMD, Switzerland

7. Durham Business School, UK

8. Texas A&M University: Mays, US

9. SP Jain Center of Management, Dubai / Singapore

10. University College Dublin: Smurfit, Ireland

 

Once you have decided upon your preferred business school and are confident that you have a good chance of gaining admission you need to start thinking about how you are going to fund your MBA or other management qualification. You may be lucky enough that your parent’s can afford the fees and are willing to provide financial aid as an investment in your future. Unfortunately for many of us this is not an option and so here are the most common ways of getting financial aid for your chosen business school:

 

Grants and Scholarships

This will differ from country to country but there many kinds of grants and scholarships available to students offered by government, private institutions and business schools themselves. Sometimes these are merit based and other grants and scholarships are awarded to students with specific circumstances or from certain religious or ethnic backgrounds. The great thing about a grant or scholarship is that it does not have to be repaid, however, this makes competition for such financial aid very high!

Examples of grants and scholarhsips:

US & UK 

Fulbright Commission (visit website)

India 

Minority Welfare Scholarship System run by the Indian government (visit website)

Students from developing countries wanting to study in Europe

Erasmus Mundus Scholarships (visit website)

 

Corporate Sponsorship

For Executive MBA students already working it may be possible to get an employer to fund all or part of an MBA program. Obviously this is more likely to happen with a larger organization and they will probably want you to commit to staying with the company for a set number of years. You should consider this carefully as you may feel that you want to spread your wings and embark on a new challenge once you have your MBA!

Indian Oil Company offers over 2,000 scholarships to talented students across India every year. For more information click here.

 

Loans

Even with a scholarship or corporate sponsorship it still may be necessary to take out a loan to fund your management education. Our advice here would be to speak with an independent financial advisor and do your research thoroughly before committing to any kind of loan.

 

Finally, if the costs associated with business school are prohibitive and you are unable to secure financial aid then a cost-effective alternative is an online or distance learning program.

GMAT – what is it all about?

The first hurdle facing most prospective MBA students is the GMAT. This article aims to give an overview of the test and provide advice on how to prepare

The Graduate Admission Test or GMAT as it is now known was first introduced in 1953 and was created by a small group of Business Schools who’s aim it was to develop a standardized test to help business schools to take a consistent approach to entry criteria. The test is taken more than 200,000 times annually and is now used by over 1,500 business schools globally.

The test is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) who has recently announced plans for a ‘Next Generation GMAT’, which will be introduced June 2012. Global MBA Report will be looking at these changes over the coming months so watch this space!

So what is it all about?

  • Analytical writing assessment section – requiring two essays
  • Quantitative section – consisting of 37 multiple choice questions
  • Problem solving – including arithmetic, basic algebra and elementary geometry
  • Data sufficiency – tests quantitative reasoning ability
  • Verbal section – consists of 41 multiple choice questions
  • Sentence correction – examines knowledge of English grammar, usage and style
  • Critical reasoning – tests logical thinking
  • Reading Comprehension – examines ability to read critically

It is difficult to give guidance on what is the exact score required to gain entry to your chosen business school as most do not publish a minimum score or provide statistics on previous scores. However, you can usually find out the average score obtained by the latest intake, for example the following statement is taken from the London Business School website:

“Our average for the Class of MBA2012 is 701 with a range of 600-780. However, the GMAT is just one of several admission criteria. Just as a high score does not guarantee admission, a below average score does not eliminate a candidate. You must ensure that your score is still valid on the 1 September for the year you will be matriculating. Scores are valid for five years from the date you take the test. For example, for the class beginning in 2011, we will only accept scores obtained since 1 September 2006.”

http://www.london.edu/programmes/mba/faqs.html

It is important to note that you can overcome a low score with impressive real world achievements, a good undergraduate performance, high quality references, strong personal connections, strong application essays, or as a member of an under-represented group.

Last month Global MBA Report looked at Essential Reading for Prospective MBA Students, which included some useful books providing advice on business school admissions policy.

In addtion to the books reviewed above, the GMAT Review provides advice specific to the test and is now on its 12th edition. Here are some tips taken from the book on how to navigate the quantitative and verbal sections of the test:

  • DON’T resort to random guesses. Instead, try to eliminate at least one answer choice before confirming your response.
  • DO look out for sucker-bait answer choices.
  • DO pace yourself so that you have enough time to consider every available question — but don’t be a clock-watcher.
  • DO take your time with the first few Quantitative and Verbal questions.
  • DON’T succumb to perfectionist tendencies.
  • DO use your pencil and scratch paper (both will be provided).
  • DON’T waste time reading directions while the clock is running; you should already know them.

Visit the MBA Book Shop where you can browse and purchase titles recommended by Global MBA report.

gmatclub is a useful resource including blogs and extremely active forums where you can find a wide range of useful information. gmatclub also partners with organisations offering training/coaching.

Another fantastic information resource is 800score.com, named after the highest score attainable on the GMAT and run by a group of very clever individuals who have all achieved impressive scores, including a few 800′s! 800score.com has helped over 100,000 students since 1999 making it one of the leading online test preparation organizations.

Finally, GMAT Prep Now, created by Brent Hanneson who has over 20 years teaching experience, offers an affordable online GMAT prep course with over 400 premium videos, a comprehensive learning guide, and a money-back guarantee. Prices starting at just $10/module!