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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

August 21, 2007


Admissions committees ask applicants to write about their goals after graduate school, but can applicants actually know what will be on the cutting-edge in two or three years? Not only those applying for an MBA, but those applying for degrees in any field need to think whether their goals are about the future. For instance, an applicant pursuing a LL.M. in corporate law better know about what changes are taking place in the law. Engineers need to know about the latest technology. Even Ph.D. applicants in art history should know about the state of present scholarly research. Every field undergoes change and as a graduate student you should develop the skills and knowledge that will allow you be a part of the future of your industry or academic field. While many applicants will be able to successfully apply with relatively standard goals ("I want to be a consultant because..."), putting together truly outstanding goals is one way of differentiating your application. But how to put together great goals?

Be informed. Admissions needs to believe you know what you are talking about. If you are changing careers, no one expects you to be an expert, but you should come across as having a clear plan based on real research into your future. If are planning on staying in your present industry, you should be well informed not only about the companies you have worked for, but the industry as a whole. If you are not already doing so, read industry related publications and network.

Those changing fields should most certainly read industry related publications in their intended field. Additionally, I suggest conducting informational interviews with at least one peer level and one senior level person in that field. Conduct a peer level interview to get a good idea of what it would be like to actually work in that industry. Conduct a senior level interview to get the perspective of someone who can see the big picture and all the little details as well.

Don't know anyone in your intended field? Network! One great way to start that is through LinkedIn. Another is by making use of your undergraduate alumni network and/or career center.

No matter whether you are changing fields or not, learn what is hot now and try to figure out what will be hot by the time you graduate. Now, of course, this is just a plan and chances are that what is hot in your industry or field now, may very well be cold in the future. The point is to come across to the admissions committee as someone who is not only well informed, but has CUTTING-EDGE knowledge. Some great general sources for learning what is hot:

LinkedIn Answers: I would suggest that anyone seeking a non-academic career and especially those pursuing a career in entrepreneurship, consulting, finance, IT, HR, ventures, marketing, or engineering join LinkedIn and make use of LinkedIn answers. LinkedIn Answers are a great way to tap into cutting edge expertise. Follow LinkedIn's rules and you will be able to obtain excellent information.

Hoovers: For information about specific companies, Hoovers is just a great way to learn about key facts including competitors (a very useful way of knowing who else you might want to work for and to learn about an industry). While primarily focused on the US, Hoovers does have listings for companies worldwide.

Vault: For scope of coverage, this site is a must. Vault includes both career and admissions information. It includes both company specific and industry-wide information.

Other sources: Read magazines, websites, and books that relate to your intended field. For information about other general sources click here. LL.M. applicants should click here.

-Adam Markus
MBA留学, LLM留学, 大学院留学
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