Monday, July 8, 2013

The Value of Introspection

Last year going into the applications, I was far too occupied with the GMAT and did not spend nearly enough time preparing for and writing my essays.  Granted there were other flaws to my candidacy, but I believe that this was a major one.  During the months of July, August, and part of September, I was solely focused on studying for the GMAT, I hadn't even started thinking about application essays until a few weeks before they were due... huge mistake.  My next big mistake was writing my essays with pretty much zero prep.  This was due to my lack of understanding of the amount of time needed to truly produce good essays, and because I had pushed off writing until after I finished the GMAT the second time.  The result: six dings and a huge shot to my ego.

Looking back, I am glad I didn't get in last year.  I wish I could have all the money I spent on applications back, but it was a good learning experience.  After recovering for the dings, I decided to wait another year to apply rather than applying to "safety schools."  I vowed to not make the same mistake and started my preparations for the 2013 Round 1 apps this past January.

So what was I going to do this time?  Read more program websites?  Talk to more admissions consultants about my chances of being accepted?  Spend more time on the boards of Beat the GMAT?  All good things in their own way, but I had done all those things before?  What was I missing?  INTROSPECTION!

Why do I need an MBA?  What do I really want to do in my career?  What is my passion?  What really matters to me?  How are all these things related?  These were all things I asked myself before, but only superficially.  When I applied last time around, I thought I wanted to go into consulting, but in reality, I didn't really know why.  I didn't think too much about it, just thought it would be an interesting career with a nice paycheck, but I never thought much deeper than that.  I have a son who just started asking questions about everything.  He has turned into the annoying little kid that is always asking "Why?  Why?  Why?"  But if you think about it, there is a very valuable lesson to be learned from that child-like frame of mind, both for discovering your reason for going back to school for an MBA and for life in general.

Why is introspection important?  Because it helps you uncover the core of your professional and personal motivations, which are very valuable to know when writing your application essays.  Knowing your core motivations will better help you understand what you want to do in life.  It will help you better articulate what you dream job is.  Once you know that, your long-term post-MBA goal becomes clearer.  Finally, when you know what your long-term goals are, you can map out why you need an MBA and what you will do within 5 to 10 years post-MBA to get to that long-term goal.  Before I was thinking small picture first.  However, in doing so, I never really had a clear understanding of what I really wanted to do in the long-term.  I wanted to be a management consultant at McKinsey.  If someone asked me why, I would have said, "because I like to solve problems."  If someone were to ask me why again, I probably couldn't answer them.

This approach may not be for everyone, but it was really helped me.  I started asking myself why about everything regarding why I wanted an MBA and about what I though my short and long term goals were.

"Why do I want to go into management consulting?"

"Why do I like to solve problems?"

"Would being a management consultant make me happy?"

The more questions I asked myself, the clearer my core motivations became.  The clearer my motivations became, the clearer my career goals became.  Once I understood what I really valued, and what I wanted out of a career, I was able to better see the big picture of my career.  What I really wanted.  What I would be happy and satisfied with when all is said and done.  Once I understood that, filling in the road that would get me there wasn't too hard.

"Ability is what you're capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do.  Attitude determines how well you do it." - Raymond Chandler


  1. thanks a lot MBA Reapplicant..reading your experience has really helped me..though i would certainly want to know how you figured your long term goals considering the current dynamic opportunities that we have ..i am having a hard time coming up with the answer to this question as i truly believe that even if i feel that marketing is the best for me but after working for some time in this field i might realize that i am more suited for a product managerial role..i am saying this because i started off as a technical consultant but after 6-8 months i realized coding was not realy my thing and so switched to a functional role as soon as i got an opportunity..any inputs is much appreciated

  2. Hi Sanchit, thanks for your comment. I agree with you, in today's work environment, there are some many different opportunities it's hard to know what you are really going to be doing 3 to 5 years down the road, let alone 10 to 20. However, the key to answering this question on b-school applications for me was first identifying things I am passionate about. From there I tried to think of what career long-term would be my dream job where I would be able to incorporate some of the things I am passionate about into my career. Once I had that identified, it was a matter of painting the picture of how I am going to get to that dream job. That being said, more likely than not, I won't end up doing what I think is my dream job. Why? Because there are some many opportunities I will come across in the future that I don't even know about at this point. In spite of that, I can still have a goal, something I am working towards, that is pertinent to who I am and where I am in my career now.

    These are just some things that have helped my. Hope they can help you out a little. Good luck!

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