Unlike with short-term goals, the challenge with long-term goals is not to map out a perfect plan that everyone can achieve collectively. Here, you want to dream big and put as much of you - your passions, your inspirations, and what you care about - into the answer as possible.
Think about goals the way Stanford GSB used to ask applicants to think about them: "What do you REALLY want to do?" If you say that your short-term goal is consulting, you are creating the foundation for just about any long-term goal. You might think it wise to say "I want to then climb the ranks to become a managing partner" and feel like that is a smart, safe play. Well, it's boring. Worse, it is impersonal. Literally anyone on earth could write that. What do you want to do? Really?
If the real answer is to rise through the ranks and become a managing partner, well, why is that? There must be some greater good you want to serve or some burning desire that drives that aim, right? If it is just financial security, is there something in your past that makes that paramount, above all else? There is always a way to make your long-term goals about you and that is what you have to do. You do not have to make your long-term goals 100% achievable. You do not have to make your long-term goals about connecting back to previous areas of expertise. You just have to pick goals that are personal and that require this MBA path you are on, at least on some level.
There is an incredible amount of freedom in shaping your long-term goals, so be yourself, be interesting, and pick a path that you can truly own.
STEP 5 - OWN THE GOALS.
This is the part where perhaps we have come to assume too much over the years and where our case study client seemed to run into trouble. Once he had a path that made sense, ensured that he had achievable short-term goals (complete with highlighted transferable skill sets), had a long-term goal that was interesting and personal, and all of that was wrapped up with a bow in his essays, the mission had been accomplished. When he received an interview invite at a top 10 school, we prepped him for the interview and showed him how to bring that goal narrative through to the interview setting.
However, here is where it fell apart. How and why?
As best we can tell, he got unlucky with his alumni interviewer. Instead of hosting a friendly interview, this person demeaned the applicant and tried to poke holes in his resume and aspirations. This is a tough break, for sure, but something that future applicants can deal with. First, if this happens, call the school and ask for another interview. The schools know that there is some risk inherent with a heavy reliance on alumni interviewers, so they won't be surprised nor will they likely refuse your request. Second though, you have to ditch that experience and approach the new opportunity with the same level of confidence you had before.
This is where our case study client failed. He got rattled by the first interview and lost confidence in his whole narrative. Now, this is partly because he had bad luck but in equal part because he never truly owned his own goals. He was too reliant on his consultant to formulate a plan and he was never strong in what he wanted from an MBA and his life.
When you don't own your story (the first piece of advice we give for interview prep, by the way), you can too easily be bowled over by the first raised eyebrow or harsh word. And if you start scrambling to explain yourself or start getting wishy-washy with your goals, it is game over. After all, if you can't sit there proud and strong and say "this is what I want" with conviction, what can you stand strong for?
So this is Step 5 and one we never realized we needed to hammer home: own your goals. It's your story, not the interviewer's. It's your life, not anyone else's. If you can't get comfortable with the goals in the essay, rethink your goals until you do.
If you follow the above five steps, you will never fall victim to the pitfalls that have taken down thousands before you.
You won't be rejected for asking too much (or not enough) of the school in the short term, you won't lose the reader's interest with impersonal long-term goals, and you won't blow your interview by losing conviction in your own path. Remember that if everything makes sense and follows these steps, nobody can tell you what to think about your life and path.
Management consulting career path is an often-traversed path for most MBAs, and there is a reason why an MBA from a top Business School will enable candidates to take that path and transform themselves into successful consultants. The history of the Founders of two of the top Three Management Consulting Firms – McKinsey, BCG and Bain & Company, is evidence of the long association that the top Management consulting firms have with Business Schools.
James O. McKinsey, the Founder of McKinsey & Company, was the professor of accounting at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Bruce Henderson, the Founder of the Boston Consulting Groups attended Harvard Business School. Bill Bain, the Founder of Bain & Company worked for BCG, and was considered the successor of Bruce Henderson but in 1973, Bill changed his career path, and started Bain & Company.
To understand how an MBA can contribute towards developing a career in Management Consulting, candidates should understand the seven Skills that Management Consultants must develop to be successful in the industry.
A consulting engagement requires the Consultant to understand the client’s need, clarify the requirement, and understand the actual needs behind each requirement. In order to understand the underlying message behind every communication, consultants must develop the skill of active listening – both verbal and non-verbal.
2) Analytical Skills
To make sense of the latest trends, and potential of a company, Consultants must be strong analytically and be able to convert data into trends, and translate strategies into Key Performance Indicators.
3) Industry Knowledge
Having a strong Analytical mind will only take the consulting engagement to the halfway mark. The real work happens when Consultants understand the Context of each problem, and develop solutions accordingly. This requires a deeper understanding of industry best practices, how the Business works in the Industry – its unique position, competitors and bottlenecks, and the dynamics of how each element in the Business eco-system interact with each other.
4) Effective Communication
Consultants must be an effective communicator and define clear client expectations. They should develop skills in probing, salesmanship, capturing 360-degree feedback, managing client expectations, and ensuring that the deliverables promised under the consulting engagement are fulfilled.
The most important skill that a Management Consultant should possess is leadership. The consultant must take personal responsibility of the engagement, and should play a key role in overseeing the analysis, planning, and implementation of the project. She should review the quality of deliverables in various stages of the project. The consultant’s leadership skills are leveraged to develop the intellectual capital for the organization.
6) People Skills
Consulting engagement involve interacting with stakeholders across companies at various job roles. The consultant must be adept at training, talent spotting, and motivating team members at all levels.
7) Creative Skills
Although analytical thinking is a pre-requisite for Management Consulting career, solving complex problems happens when the consultant introduces creativity to the environment. Although creativity is an inherited trait, lot of the characteristics of creative thinking can be developed.
From the 7 Key Skills, MBA will provide the tools to develop skills in leadership, Listening, communication, and creativity. The industry knowledge can be acquired through an internship at top Management consulting firms. One defining factor that favors an MBA route for aspiring Management Consultants is the relationship that Business Schools have with top Consulting firms. According to Case Interview, there are HR representatives assigned to each school – one HR will be in charge of Harvard, another for Kellogg and so on. Traditionally, such opportunities do not open up with non-MBA career path, especially in the US.