4 Things I Did to Successfully Apply to B-School While Holding Down My Job
By: Celine Tarrant, originally seen on themuse.com
Recently, I wrote a piece about balancing my full time job with applying to business school for one of my favorite sites, themuse.com. I addressed the tradeoffs I made in my life between work, life, health and a social life and shared my tips for surviving! Below is an excerpt and a link to the full piece at The Muse!
Between studying for the GMAT, attending admissions events, scheduling coffee chats, and working my full-time job, applying to business school was a lot to juggle. And to be honest, I found balancing it all—and maintaining some semblance of a social life extremely difficult.
But I did it. I still kicked ass at my job, made time for friends, and got into three top programs. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I can clearly see the four things that helped me be successful:
1. I Rallied Support (Inside and Outside of Work)
I have a very supportive boss, and early on in the process, I was upfront with her regarding what would help me most at work (exposure to more senior meetings, more leadership opportunities, and more opportunities to shine). This was important, because I wanted to show potential for growth in my career. And, since my manager was also one of my references, she had recent examples when it came time to sit down and write my letters of recommendation.
If you’re nervous about having this conversation with your boss, it’s helpful to imagine why you think they may not be supportive. Do you think they could be worried you’ll spend working hours distracted (or filling out applications)? Might they be unhappy about (eventually) replacing you, because of things only you know how to do? Come armed with whatever you need to put any fears to rest, be it a time management schedule or a plan to transfer your institutional knowledge.
Of course, I leaned on family and friends, too—which meant asking them to understand that I needed to pull back on social events. That doesn’t mean ignoring them: I blocked out time that was exclusively friend, family, or boyfriend time. But it did mean I saying no to some social events I would’ve gone to otherwise and trusting that the people who love me would understand.
2. I Prioritized
If you’re applying to top business schools, you’re probably a Type-A overachiever like me. Last year, my goals included:
- Writing the GMAT
- Applying to b-school
- Working on my side gig
- Running a marathon
- Exceeding expectations at my full-time job (where I’d recently been promoted)
It wasn’t until I completely bombed the GMAT on my first attempt that I realized that list was not realistic.
So, I listed all of my goals on paper and ranked them—making a conscious choice to devote my time to the top three. Since business school was my focus, taking the GMAT, completing my applications, and maintaining excellent performance at work were my top priorities.
Even though it was difficult for me, I decided to put my running goals and my side gig on the backburner, along with reducing my volunteering and the amount of events I attended. While it involved sacrifice, this strategy gave me the opportunity to achieve my top three goals, which was preferable than going for (and falling short of) every single one.