Interview the Industry: MBA programs

What do you wish you had done to prepare yourself for an MBA?

Personal Goal Priority & Work Ethic: People apply to MBA programs because they have their personal goals to achieve whether they are learning business knowledge, pivoting industries/functions, working in other countries, expanding networks, getting into top firms, receiving better salary/future promotion, or just wanting to get a master degree. Achieving your own goals won’t be a problem until you work in group projects with others. The majority of your class assignments will be group projects, which means that you have to work with 4-5 people almost every day and receive the same score. Because there are neither restricted guidelines nor actual assignment leaders, there will be conflict of interests, especially for people who have different work experience or ethics. How you compensate with each personal goal becomes really tricky, and there are no defined solutions for it. Don’t expect your classmates to change or follow the team norm because people have their own goals to achieve and there is no right or wrong for doing that.

Rebuild Confidence: Most of your classmates will have worked in their prior industry for an average of 5 years indicating that your classmates are probably good and have some achievements in their prior jobs. However, the subjects that you are learning in the MBA program are new; therefore, you must always be open-minded and willing to learn. Also, for those who are pivoting careers, especially those who are transitioning into different functions, you will face a lot of obstacles and challenges during recruiting since you were used to your past work responsibilities but not the new ones. 

Look at Reality and Prepare More Plans: Many people who apply for MBA programs want to enter the field of consulting or investment banking. However, only a certain percentage of the students in high-ranking programs or types of personality can enter those fields. Therefore, being realistic and preparing additional plans are important when things don’t turn out to be what you expected.

 What skills are essential for success as an MBA candidate?

Time Management: MBA programs involve several activities including studying, working on group projects, social events, networking, job searching, and interviewing. With a limited amount of time, how you prioritize each activity becomes important; therefore, you must align your activities with your personal goals.

    How do you know what program/school is right for you?

Metrics: School location, program length, school reputation (ranking), alumni network, program specialties (course electives), historical employment statistics (industry, function, salary), program culture, tuition/scholarship.

For each applicant, there will be different weights of each parameter within the matrix because it is based on personal goals. There will always be trade-offs between each program. You have to think about how to minimize the lost opportunities or find alternatives.

14 keywords that are useful for your MBA resume

MBA resumes focus on quantifying accomplishments and transferable skills that are relevant among different industries. 

Ability to work with others: Coordinate, Collaborate, Communicate, Cross-functional.

Ability to lead the teams: Lead, Motivate, Initiate.

Ability to solve problems: Execute, Design, Develop, Forecast, Client relationship management, Propose, Due diligence.

Get to know David Chen

David Chen received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Biotechnology from Indiana University, Bloomington. After spending a year at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, he then went on to work in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in San Diego, California. He played a pivotal role in the success of Synthorx, Inc and was a part of the team during the $2.5 billion acquisition by Sanofi. David honed his leadership skills by serving in the Ministry of Interior of Taiwan. During his service, he was awarded an outstanding annual performance and received a certificate of appreciation from Taipei City Government.

David is currently enrolled in the Jones Graduate School of Business full-time MBA program at Rice University. As a student in class of 2023, David focuses on finance and strategy and plans to pivot his career to management consulting in the Pharma/Biotech/Healthcare industry.

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