MBA Application Advice: Innovation is more than launching products

In addition to being a strong leader, a team player and an all-around impressive contributor to the workplace, business schools are looking for innovative thinkers.

When you hear the word innovation, many think of filing patents or launching products, both of which would certainly go a long way towards demonstrating innovative thinking to be sure, but innovation can be so much more. What business schools really like to see is creativity, even in roles where you wouldn’t think there’s much room for it. Perhaps you work in a bank and came up with a new and clever way to process the loan paperwork—something which cut down not only the processing time, but perhaps also the number of people required in the process? The accounting field is another one where you might not think a lot of innovation is going on, but there’s actually a goodly amount of creativity in managing the numbers, and showing the adcom how you have done so with passion can be just the right recipe for a winning application. After all, no two tax returns are alike!

Of course, entrepreneurs have a fairly easy time convincing the adcoms they are innovative, after all, starting up a company, especially one which has shown some success, takes a lot of ingenuity.

But what about intra-preneurship?

That is, taking processes and procedures within the rank and file of the everyday, established job and turning it upside down in a way which improves something for everyone involved? Even seemingly small, but creative contributions to your office can be presented in a way which shows the admissions committees you are unafraid to color outside the lines a bit and take a calculated risk in order to make things better. You might have even demonstrated innovation as a student, for example, by pulling off a high GPA in an engineering program when high engineering GPAs are difficult to come by. In fact, being creative in how you think of creativity at the workplace can show innovation itself! Don’t be afraid to make novel connections between what you have done both in and out of work and how you are a unique thinker. Business schools love to imagine their graduates will go on to lead the next generation of outside the box thinkers, so spend some quality time really asking yourself how you can demonstrate innovation in your own career and you will be on your way to impressing your target schools.

This is how we think about the process - from every angle. It's not enough to know yourself and the story you want to tell, you have to understand the challenges, obligations, and desires of your audience as well. We're here to help with all that and we do it at a higher level than anyone out there. 

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