Today we want to talk about arguably the biggest and most common mistake we see on MBA applications, which is failing to market transferable skills. More importantly, we want to talk about how to fix that problem.
In working with clients of all age, gender, nationality, and industry, one thing we're always trying to do is identify things that connect everyone - common elements that become and remain true, regardless of differences. To be honest, there aren't many such elements. Almost everything about the MBA admissions process is a contextual exercise. You can almost never divorce a unique applicant or a specific school from your analysis. It's part of the reason this is such a difficult endeavor for people, part of the reason why so many admissions consultants do a horribly incomplete job of advising candidates, and a huge part of the reason why admissions consulting even exists. You have to do a lot of things right and you have to do them with great contextual specificity. If you confront "one size fits all" advice, typically you can sprint away from that as fast as possible.
That said, there is one universal truth that we have uncovered that seems largely overlooked by the rest of the MBA admissions landscape and that is how enormously important it is to abide by what we call the Art of Transferability.
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. 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?
Andrew was a re-applicant, having applied to Columbia Business School the year before. He knew that he would be under the gun to answer “what had he improved since late applying to Columbia.” However, since last applying, his professional situation had taken a turn for the "worse." Andrew had been laid off from his New York City based financial services job. Further complicating his situation, Andrew did accept a new role – an unpaid position that was outside of his finance industry.