Improving your B-School profile during undergrad
The Masters in Management (MiM) degree is arguably the one business school degree which has come into prominence the most in the 21st century. More and more young graduates are looking at MiM programs with keen interest, as they see it as a launchpad for a successful career in management from a young age.
While applying for MiM programs is a very different process as compared to MBAs, one of the biggest points of difference is the importance of your undergraduate years. While MBA applications do look at undergraduate scores and experiences, there is a significant amount of emphasis given to the work experience of applicants as they have been working for a few years. For MiMs however, your undergraduate years are at the very core of your experiences and application, which is why it is crucial to make the most of these years if you are targeting the best schools in the world after you graduate.
P.S. If the concept of MiM programs is new to you, please check out our MiM 101 article here, and then come right back here to know more!
There’s no two ways about this, having an outstanding academic record during your undergraduate studies is hard to replace completely with any other part of your application. Some schools even have minimum GPA criteria to apply to their programs! In an ideal world, you should try to be on top of your academics from day one. One or two poor scores over the course of your study aren’t a major worry, but your overall grade and performance should be positive.
What if you’re already towards the end of your program and haven’t had a great record so far in your grades? Like we mentioned earlier, there isn’t an exact substitute, but a few ideas to show your academic potential could be to write and publish academic research papers on topics of interest, undertake independent academic projects under the guidance of faculty, and of course, to have an outstanding GRE/GMAT score.
Extra-curricular activities are an outstanding way to make your profile stand out, display your interests and strengths, and even highlight your leadership potential. While there are no rules about which activities you should pursue, here are some opportunities you can look at:
Leadership roles in college student bodies: Most student run clubs have a core leadership committee, which involves a variety of responsibilities. Holding such positions allows you to demonstrate leadership qualities and could also give you many great experiences to talk about in your applications and interviews!
Participating in societal activities: Every locality has problems it needs to solve, and often has local bodies/committees to help with the same. Volunteering your time and skills in these areas could be another great choice.
Nonprofit activities: There a number of nonprofit volunteering and work opportunities available for students in every city. These experiences can be very fulfilling on a personal level, and also look great on applications if done well.
An important note for all the above-mentioned activities! Schools see thousands of applications every year and can easily spot participation which is not genuine. Just volunteering at a nonprofit will not secure you an admit, so don’t try to squeeze in a few weeks of it just to add a line on your resume. Find activities that genuinely interest you, so that they can be a truly fulfilling and meaningful experience for you and add to your complete profile.
Professional work experience is normally not a prerequisite for applying for MiM programs, since these are early career programs. Indeed, many schools even have an upper limit on work experience of around 2 years. That being said, having some professional work experience in the form of internships during your undergraduate year can add a lot to your profile, and also give you insights into what kind of career you want to go for in the future.
The most important point to remember when evaluating internship options, is to always prioritize the work you’ll be doing and the opportunities you will have. Working at an unknown startup, where you’ve been given real responsibilities and your actions have had a genuine impact is better than working at a big brand where you’ve not gotten the opportunity to do anything meaningful at all!
Make sure you look at the different options you have, and try to speak to others who have worked there previously to get the best picture of what you’re walking into.
We’ve covered some of the key aspects above which college students can work on to build a strong profile for MiM programs but perhaps the most important point to remember is that no one segment of an applicant’s profile determines their success. Business school admissions are holistic in nature and look at all the different elements before making decisions. So while it may not be possible to have done phenomenally well in every department, students should strive to maintain a balanced profile, as opposed to throwing all their eggs in one basket!