What are some ways I can improve my professional profile outside of work?

Hi, I am a recent college graduate that is currently working in commercial banking as a credit analyst. My current goal is to improve my profile to be competitive in top MBA programs after 4-5 years of experience. I have a 3.94 GPA from a non-target (Finance & Accounting), with multiple leadership experiences in business clubs, fraternities and the CFA research challenge. I have time to do some extracurricular activities on the weekends, but I am unsure on what to focus my efforts on, while pursuing my full time job. I thought about learning a 3rd language, joining a volunteer organization, enrolling in a part time Master's in Project Management, or being a math tutor at my brother's high school.

Comments (9)

May 31, 2018

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Jun 4, 2018

Hey there! Sounds like you are on a great path. I would do something volunteer or community related, but choose a cause or activity that matters to you and you're passionate about (possibly the math tutoring fits this). Bonus points if it allows for some leadership. You could also pick an organization related to your future career goals, if that helps you decide.

A 3rd language could be a nice bonus, especially if you think you'll apply to a school like INSEAD where you need to know 3 languages before you graduate. Have you had experience living/working/traveling in other countries? If not, that might be something to try to add, either through work (if possible) or a short volunteer trip.

I don't see a huge boost coming from the part time Master's, unless it's something your company wants you to do and you think will help you with post-MBA jobs. You already have a strong academic background, so that area of your profile doesn't really need more.

Kate Richardson
Senior Consultant, mbaMission
Sign up for a free phone consultation: https://www.mbamission.com/consult/

    • 2
Jun 4, 2018

I'm matriculating at an M7 school in the fall. Very clear throughout my process how much they value volunteer work. It helps to be able to genuinely talk about why you spent your time the way you did, rather than just "to beef up my application." I work in finance, and volunteered tutoring financial literacy so the story really tied in to my professional life and what I'm passionate about.

Jun 4, 2018

Would love to see a thread by you about how you got into an M7 (your success story).

Jun 4, 2018

I'll second the person who mentioned volunteering. Preferably do so for something that has a visible online presence, so it'll be linked to your name when your name is Googled. Another great thing would be to volunteer with new immigrants, teaching financial basics, how to make a budget etc...Resettlement organizations are always looking for locals to help, and you can parlay that into a unique experience for your application essay.

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Most Helpful
Jun 4, 2018

In no particular order of preference - just depends on what resonates with you most personally (as that's more likely to drive you to do it for its own sake):

If your religion is important to you, there are tons of volunteer activities and orgs affiliated with synagogues, churches, mosques, temples, etc helping the underprivileged - literacy, outreach to shelters, prisons, immigrant communities, refugees, etc, food aid, and so forth - whether helping locally in a city or helping those abroad. Lots of applicants ask about the sensitivities re: religion in terms of b-school apps, and the short answer is it's actually mostly a positive UNLESS you are openly proselytizing in the applications (plenty of folks in b-school that are openly devout Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, etc).

There is the 2018 midterm elections, and then the 2020 presidential elections (of which the campaigning starts in 2019). Choose your team. Plenty of work on that front if that moves you.

Do something fun and creative. Join an improv sketch comedy team at the Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City, Improv Olympic, etc. Volunteer for local theater productions. Start a band. Join a musical group playing to seniors or at a hospice.

Be a coach [insert sport of choice] working with kids/teens/adults with disabilities.

Tutoring is fine, but it's the default choice it seems for so many MBA applicant types.

Ideally do something that involves you doing something active as part of a community or affinity group. It's not just good for your apps, but it's likely going to engage you in a more meaningful way than sitting in a classroom (you've done that your entire life as a student).

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Jun 16, 2018

There is the 2018 midterm elections, and then the 2020 presidential elections (of which the campaigning starts in 2019). Choose your team. Plenty of work on that front if that moves you.

Given how polarized America is politically these days, is that really wise?

Having a partisan political campaign on your resume just seems guaranteed to piss someone off or make them think less of you.

Jun 17, 2018

Having worked with applicants who have been involved on both sides of the political spectrum (and with high profile officials), even after 2016, it's fine. Like religion, it's less about using the essays as a soapbox for viewpoints, and more about organizational effectiveness - what you did to raise money, sign up more volunteers, help run a campaign office, etc.

Again, as long as you're not helping a white supremacist/Nazi, or a child molester, being involved in public service/politics, like religion, can be a positive aspect of your profile. In fact, every single year at just about any top b-school, there will be a handful of people who worked full time at one point in their careers for senators, reps, foundations, etc both at the fed and state levels for both parties (from memory, it seemed to be a decent enough balance that I couldn't say one side was more prevalent in b-school than the other).

In any case, it's not like you can hide your political leanings these days - from the resume alone and a few markers such as your interests, books you read, etc (and the essays as well - even if no politics is even mentioned) you can pretty much sense which direction someone leans.

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Jun 4, 2018