The summer before your MBA is a great time to travel, spend time with friends and get a head start on a busy fall semester. Quit your job, relax and get ready for an amazing adventure.
Here are 10 recommendations for MBA admits:
1. Take a Career Assessment Test
Half of all MBA students are career switchers and many arrive to school without an idea of the industries they would like to get in to. Don’t wait until school starts to figure this out! Below are some resources that can help you in this process.
StrengthsQuestCost: $9.99 This report will give you your top 5 themes and your personalized strengths, e.g. “what makes you standout”? It will also highlight how to use your skills in order to enhance your career.
CareerLeaderCost: $95 This tool will reveal your interests, motivators and skills. It will then create a career and culture match. It is built on the premise that “one’s interests, motivators and skills will drive…future career success and satisfaction.”
pymetrics Cost: Free! pymetrics uses neuroscience games to measure different cognitive and social traits. The results reveal your strengths and weaknesses while also providing insights into what kind of roles you might excel in. The game format eliminates the unconscious bias present in many other self-assessments, like the Myers-Briggs Test. pymetrics is a highly recommended resource for potential industry and/or function switchers.
The MAPP™ Career Assessment TestCost: Free sample, $89.95 for full results The MAPP is a comprehensive assessment test. In the free sample you will receive insights concerning your top traits as well as 10 possible career areas.
*Contact the career center at your school for free versions of these tests.
2. Firm Up on Your Industry Knowledge & Prepare for Technical Interviews
Keep up with current world events and familiarize yourself with business language by reading the WSJ, Financial Times and The Economist. Use Vault & CareerBeam to explore industries and companies. (Inquire about free memberships for these sites from your school’s career office)
Read - You will not have much time for leisure reading once school starts. Preparing for technical interviews the summer before school will put you ahead of your peers.
- Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation, 7th Edition by Marc P. Cosentino
- What I Didn’t Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World, by Jay Barney and Trish Gorman Clifford
- Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers & Acquisitions, by Joshua Rosenbaum and Joshua Pearl
- Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Heylar
- The Portable MBA in Finance & Accounting, by Theodore Grossman and John Leslie Livingstone
- Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, by Geoffrey A. Moore
- Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping--Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer and Beyond, by Paco Underhill
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh
- Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street, by Michael Lewis
- Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System – and Themselves, by Andrew Ross Sorkin
- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
- Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
Get used to getting outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself to be bold. Don’t be shy to reach out; about 50% of students get their jobs out of personal connections. Make sure you write personalized, short emails that are typo free. Use LinkedIn to find alumni and make sure to join your school’s admitted students Facebook group.
4. Polish Your Resume and Cover Letter
It’s a good idea to have several versions of your resume if you are applying to jobs in different industries.
- Check out The Muse for a list of powerful active verbs to include in your resume
- Use the STAR method to write your bullet points
- Resume Genius can help you with resume formatting
- Create a generic cover letter that can be tweaked for different companies
5. Brush Up On Your Quant Skills
If math and finance weren’t your major in college, you might need a little refresher before you start b-school.
- MBA Math ($149) is a comprehensive online tool that reviews basic economics, finance, statistics, accounting, and spreadsheet principles
- Khan Academy is a free resource to watch video tutorials on many MBA subjects
- Training The Street is a boot camp style course to learn valuation and financial modeling in Excel. Courses are usually 3-5 days long and there are several locations both in the US and abroad. Recommended for industry switchers that want to pursue a career in financial services
Not thinking beyond your cost of attendance is a common mistake. Be aware of finances, but also keep in mind that these two years are a once in a lifetime opportunity to take advantage of the greatest resource you have: time.
- Mint is an excellent online budgeting tool that integrates all of your bank accounts and allows you to view the trends in your spending and get a big picture of your finances
- Left to Spend is an iOS app that allows you to set up spending allowances in a simple and effective way. It prevents users from getting too caught up in reviewing spending graphs instead of investing time in what’s really important: school, networking and finding an internship/job
- Use the Facebook admitted students group to look for potential roommates
- Contact outgoing students for furniture deals and the possibility of taking over their leases
- Use Hot Pads, Lovely or PadMapper to find your new place
- Beware of craigslist scams, especially if you’re moving to large cities like New York and Chicago
Time management is one of the most useful skills to master in business school. It takes practice, being organized and staying healthy. Get in the routine of doing exercise. It will clear your mind and help you release tension during stressful periods such as finals and recruiting season. You’d be surprised what exercise and a good night’s sleep can do to enhance your productivity.
Take advantage of being in school again to join intramural teams. Start training in the summer.
Learning how to cook healthy meals can be a huge plus and it stops you wasting money on eating out. (Pro tip: If you’re not a good cook, become friends with a classmate who is.)
9. Take on a Volunteer Project
Reach out to that organization or cause you feel passionately about but have been too busy (or lazy) to work with before. Start by looking at organizations in your city. If you live in NYC try cariclub or New York Cares, platforms that connect people with multiple volunteer opportunities across the boroughs.
For the more adventurous ones, spend the summer volunteering in a developing country! Want to spend a couple of weeks helping at an orphanage in Tanzania? Visit Glorious Orphanage. Go Abroad filters volunteer opportunities by location, type and duration. Other useful resources to find volunteer projects abroad are Cross Cultural Solutions, UBELONG and Volunteer HQ.
If you don’t know where to begin, look for causes and organizations that companies you are interested in support; it can be a great conversation starter for a future interview.
I cannot stress this enough. Quit your job as soon as you can and GO EXPLORE! Some trip ideas and suggestions:
- Backpack in Europe if you have not done so already. Europe is more affordable now than it has been in the last 10 years! According to TripAdvisor, the cost of a one-week trip to Europe has declined more than 11%
- Visit South East Asia. Check out Leave Your Daily Hell for itinerary suggestions
- Road Trip through the US. When will you ever have time to do this again? Get inspired by this list
- Want to have fun and improve your resume? Spend 1-2 months in a new country learning a new language: How about learning Spanish in Colombia or Portuguese in Brazil?
- Climb a mountain. Check out this list of brag-worthy mountains to climb for beginner climbers
Cristina is an MBA Candidate at Georgetown University and a summer business development & marketing intern at pymetrics. She enjoys traveling and pretending to speak the local language everywhere she goes.