Preparing to do an MBA Overseas?

 | August 13,2010 06:52 pm IST

With the ever-rising number of queries I receive on what one needs to do to get started on the MBA abroad band-wagon, I decided to post a few thoughts on what one needs to do. Here are a few things you should do to get to a top-notch B-school: -

Work Experience: While cradle-snatching is increasingly in vogue, give yourself a minimum of 3 to 4 years of professional full-time work experience after your undergrad degree, before your target year in a business school.

Adding an international stint is great value-add. Growth, compensation, responsibility, mobility are key areas that are looked for.


Extra-Curricular Activities: Schools are always looking for things you've done outside of your standard career path - sports, community service, gap year trips, etc. Sports is an area which you develop an interest in, during the early part of your career. If you've missed out on representing your school, college or university or even your local club, it is unlikely that you will build on it in later years. Mere interest in sports or participation is often not enough. It is the competitive aspect that schools are after. Community service is often a standard part of western life, but is usually missing if you come from the Indian sub-continent. It is a highly valued aspect of an MBA application and you should try and increase your involvement with. Gap year trips aren't a standard part of Indian student culture, but certainly likely to become important going forward, as wage levels increase and the currency strengthens.


Research Business Schools: Start researching business schools at least 18 months before you target date and shortlist those that fit in best with your profile, post-MBA career goals, lifestyle, as well as geographic preferences. Check out recent placement records, average GMAT, key strengths of the school, and courses on offer, dual-degree opportunities, scholarships on offer, student mix, etc. This will go a long way in helping prepare a solid application.

GMAT: Aim high! Identify the median scores at schools you'd like to go to. Target nothing short of 700 if you want to raise your chances of going to a reasonably well-ranked school. This is not to say that you won't make it if you have anything lower, but it does add pressure on you to compensate in other areas of your overall application.


Recommendations: Nothing works better than getting a school's alumnus to recommend you, so try and network with those who are closest to you. Typically, these recommendations should be over and above the normal recommendations required from people you've been associated with professionally, socially or academically.


Application Round: Apply when you think your application is as ready as it could possibly be, rather than worry about the rounds you apply in. The earlier rounds are better, not because of probability but because it allows you to take corrective actions. But most certainly apply only after taking the GMAT, and/or the TOEFL/IELTS, if applicable.