Making Lemonade

If life gives you lemons, you know what you have to do…

One of the most common hurdles when crafting a winning MBA application is overcoming a checkered past.  Whether it be a convoluted work history, a poor undergraduate record, or both, you must work around your shortcomings and make some lemonade if you want to get into a good school.

Business school is the only graduate program which cares so much about what you have done with your life. 

Most other programs are all about GRE scores and grades.  While this can be welcome news for applicants who have better career achievements than academic ones, for those who were, well, adrift in their careers after college, it can be scary. Paying the proverbial fiddler now, MBA applicants often get stumped trying to explain what suddenly appear to be dumb career moves.

Finding a thread in your career is a must.

The good news for professional meanderers is that b-schools don’t really care all that much what you did, as long as you have good reasons for having done it.  What schools want to see is how you built progressively on your career moves and made the most of your missteps.  One of the most impressive qualities of any MBA applicant is maturity, and there’s nothing more mature than owning your poor decisions.  Reflecting on them with wisdom and perspective can often overcome the bad choice itself. 

Those who come out on top can also tie their past into their future vision.

It’s one thing to explain away a wrong turn here and there, and another thing altogether to use it as a stepping stone to what lies ahead.  If you can find the common link in all you have done and dovetail it skillfully into how you will forge ahead into a passionately conceived plan for the future, you might just be glad you fell on your face “back then.”

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