You aced the GMAT and poured your heart into your admissions essay. The payoff arrived in the form of the long-awaited MBA admissions letter. This was just a preview of both the rewards and challenges to come.
Now, as you enjoy your summer, it’s time to start thinking ahead to your future as an MBA student. Make the most of this precious time with these key preparation activities:
If you only take one step to prepare for your MBA program, it should involve cracking open a few business-oriented books and familiarizing yourself with the concepts you’ll delve into as a graduate student. Even a few minutes a day can make a world of difference.
At minimum, academic reading will help you return to the student mindset you may have forgotten since obtaining your undergraduate degree. Reading could also help you determine which areas of business administration you find most interesting—and where you may run into challenges.
Select a diverse range of books covering several topics related to your MBA coursework. Possible areas of interest include marketing, finance, organizational behavior, or economics. Assign yourself at least one book per month, or, better yet, one a week.
Don’t worry about delving into dry textbooks; the best MBA prep books are engaging and easy to read. Feel free to add the following to your list:
- The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, And Purpose by Tony Hsieh
- Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brene Brown
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
2. Listen to Podcasts
There are a wealth of options available to learn about cutting-edge business concepts. Podcasts, in particular, provide access to insights from today’s most brilliant leaders. These can complement your well-rounded reading list and are often short and digestible enough to enjoy during a daily commute.
Business podcasts run the gamut from casual interviews to in-depth, analytical episodes. There’s a place for both in your download list. This is your chance to sample a variety of episodes to determine which are worth listening to on a regular basis.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out the following favorites:
- Exchanges at Goldman Sachs
- HBR IdeaCast
- How I Got Here
- How I Built This
- The McKinsey Podcast
- Bloomberg Businessweek
3. Brush Up On Your Communication Skills
Effective communication is crucial to success both in your MBA program and in any business pursuits you take on after graduation. While many of your MBA classes will help you cultivate your written and verbal communication skills, advance practice never hurts. You’ll quickly find that you’re able to contribute more to discussions and written assignments when you’re already in the habit of academic communication.
Finding opportunities for interacting at an elite level can be challenging. Thankfully, the digital world provides a range of possibilities for connecting. Essay contests deliver an excellent incentive for exercising your writing skills—and many are targeted at current or aspiring graduate students. Case writing competitions are even better, as they offer wonderful practice for a central component of the MBA experience: case studies.
If you’re confident in your writing abilities but are concerned about public speaking or roundtable discussions, consider joining a local chapter of Toastmasters or other public speaking clubs. While these may not be specifically targeted at MBA students, they can help you build the confidence you need to use your voice to the fullest in grad school.
Networking events can also be helpful, particularly if you challenge yourself to break out of your shell and ditch the small talk in favor of deeper-level discussions with fellow intellectuals.
4. Find a Mentor
The right mentor can make all the difference as you face the challenges of grad school and entering the workforce. This person will provide encouragement, motivation, and a valuable sense of perspective.
Consider building a mentor-mentee relationship with an MBA graduate or business leader before your classes begin. During the summer, you’ll have more time to dedicate to building rapport with your mentor. You’ll also face less competition, as promising mentors are more likely to be inundated with requests once the semester kicks off.
Alumni from your MBA program make for excellent mentors; do your research on LinkedIn and don’t hesitate to reach out. Otherwise, potential mentors may exist within your personal or professional life. One underutilized option: Expanding on your relationship with a leader at your place of employment. You can also launch a discussion with a friend or family member who boasts a business background.
5. Update Your Resume and Social Media Accounts
Does your resume reflect your upcoming status as an MBA student? This may be of interest to prospective employers, so take some time this summer to make necessary updates. Remember, even if you haven’t yet graduated, admission into an MBA program represents a huge achievement in and of itself. Highlighting your admission status early on could give you a competitive edge as you seek new job opportunities.
This is also a great time to adjust your LinkedIn profile. Begin by investing in a new headshot. This will grant your page a fresh feel in keeping with your updated status as an MBA student. Next, add your latest academic pursuits, along with the start date and expected end date for your MBA program. When fall arrives, you’ll be ready to add further updates, such as participation in activities or links to external documents or presentations.
6. Develop Strategies for De-Stressing
The demands of your MBA program are manageable, but you’ll find it far easier to maintain a positive mindset if you’ve already developed a system for handling stress. Without a dedicated approach, it can be easy to let mental health sink to the bottom of your priority list. Instead, use the summer months to determine how often you need to focus on self-care—and which solutions will most effectively ease your stress when you’re short on time.
No one approach is ideal for everyone, but many MBA students find that they benefit most from combining physical activities with mentally calming pursuits. Yoga is a great example, as it frees the mind of negative self-talk while also easing the aches and pains associated with studying for hours on end. Other students may benefit most from short nature hikes. This summer, explore your options to determine which solutions make you feel most at ease.
How you spend your summer can determine whether you feel confident or overwhelmed as your MBA program launches in the fall. Don’t miss this opportunity to prepare yourself for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
For more information on how the MBA programs at UTC’s Gary W. Rollins College of Business can help you pursue your career goals, contact us today.