A key part of establishing your MBA application story is to cast a compelling vision. The easiest way to ensure your rejection from top schools would be to fall short doing so.
There are many components to your story, and MBA programs are always on the lookout for unique applicants who offer something different than the average MBA wannabe.
There is something, however that MBA programs are looking for in every applicant: maturity.
There are myriad reasons why b-schools want a mature student body. Mature applicants get along well with others because they have handled conflict. Mature applicants demonstrate wisdom which can only come from experience. Most importantly, however, mature applicants know what they want and have a plan for how to get there. This is the essence of casting a vision.
Schools don’t really care that much about specifically what you want to do, but they do care about how you plan to make it happen.
When I say they don’t care, I mean it’s not all that important. You could have your eye on a corporate job, a startup or a government job and what each program is going to want to see is a rational approach to achieving it. Think about the steps you plan to take to make it happen, beginning with your first job after graduation, followed by where you want to be five years out, followed by where you see yourself ending your career. This three-pronged perspective will orient the admissions committees around your career plan and give them a solid view of how you see yourself leveraging the MBA.
Getting an MBA should not be included in your vision statement—your application makes it obvious you have included the MBA as your next step. Casting your vision is about what you will do upon graduation and beyond, and incidentally, it’s not all about career steps. Make sure you include personal goals as part of your vision as well. Business schools want to see their alumni getting involved in the community and making an impact for the greater good.
Having an alternative plan is also a key part of casting your vision.
A mature person knows that things don’t always go the way you plan. If you can’t offer a plan B, and think your dogged determination to achieve your plan A will impress your target school, think again. Not having a backup plan only telegraphs to the adcoms that you are not mature enough to know better. Even if you are 100% dedicated to your primary plan and are 100% confident you will make it happen, you should still come up with a backup plan to tell the admissions committees. Doing so will at least assure them that you know enough to have one.