How to Prepare for a Master’s Degree in Management

Jun 30, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

If you’re looking for a career push in the business world consider a Master in Management, or MIM.  You’ll study at a top-notch program with an international focus—and you don’t need all the work experience typically required for admission to an MBA program.  Looking for great degree experience that offers hands-on experience?  With a MIM, you’ll get it.  Many internationally-focused MIM programs partner with global businesses to give you hands-on, real-world experience right out of the gates.  Ready to learn more?  Let’s take a look at five must-do’s to prepare yourself to go get that MIM.

 

1. Assess Your Starting Position.

Figure out what you want from a MIM degree—is there a management specialty that interests you?  Have you researched MIM programs?  Does your undergraduate degree match the prerequisites for acceptance?  Do you need to take a prep course or other short-term course to fill in any gaps for the entrance requirement? Do you need to take exams, like the GMAT before you can apply? Make sure you have the right qualifications for the program of your choice before starting the application process.

This is particularly important if you are considering overseas MIM programs. Apart from academic qualifications, you’ll need to assess your language skills. Is the course taught in your native language or another?  If you need to brush up on language skills, now is the time.

Consider your academic starting point, too.  Make sure you take a diagnostic and figure out where you are academically before you start.  Knowing where your strengths—and your weaknesses—are will show you where you need to focus and where you need to improve. 

This is the time to fill in those gaps.  Need some help?  Contact the admissions office for the various MIM programs you’ve selected.  Someone there will steer you in the right direction. Or check out this handy tool that helps you compare and choose the right school.

Another strategy?  If you’re currently an undergraduate, make an appointment with your academic advisor—you won’t regret it. 

Once you’ve figured out where you are in relation to where you want to be, you’re well on your way to that MIM.

 

2. Gain Work Experience

Unlike the MBA, work experience is not critical to a MIM.  However, it certainly doesn’t hurt.  Between one and three years can increase your chances of getting into a program of your choice.  Don’t underestimate the power of the internship, either.  Strong internship experiences, obtained during or after your undergraduate studies, can be just as impressive as a year or two of work under your belt. 

What are the benefits?  You’ll have a taste of real-world experience—and with experience comes wisdom.

 

3. Top-Up Your Extracurricular Activities

This is your chance to shine, at least on paper—and to give an admissions committee real insight into your character.  Perhaps just as critical, if not more so, your extracurricular activities count.  Why?  They reflect your interests and passions.  What you do outside of work and school matters. 

Are you interested in sports?  Showcase your interests and abilities on your resume.  If you were involved in academic or university associations, list them—and make sure to note whether you held leadership roles in those organizations.  Volunteer work is also a fantastic extracurricular activity to showcase. Even hobbies, like stamp collecting, yoga or woodworking will make a positive impression on the admissions board.  The key is to make sure your extracurricular activities give a sense of your interests and abilities, but leave an admissions counselor at your selected MIM program wanting to know more about you. 

 

4. Prepare for the Interview

This is the time and place to show who you really are and what you care about—and what you can bring to a MIM program.  What made you choose a MIM?  Why did you select this school?  How will the program help you reach your goals?  What have you learned from your internship experiences?  How about work?  How do you handle difficult situations?  How are you helpful to your classmates.

Here’s the most important one: do your homework and make sure you ask at least one thoughtful question of your interviewer about the program or the school.  One caveat – in this case there are stupid questions. The answer to your question shouldn’t be obvious from the program’s website or marketing materials. 

 

5. Take the GMAT

Ready to apply for a MIM?  Take the GMAT, the world’s most widely used and highly respected exam for graduate business degrees. 

The GMAT will give you the competitive edge you want—and a high score can ensure that you will have a variety of options when it comes to choosing a MIM program. 

What does the GMAT test?  Analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.  There are over 600 test centers around the world, but remember that the GMAT is given only in English. Non-native speakers, take note: if you need to brush up on your English skills, do so before the exam (see #1), and study with some professional assistance.

So, why is the GMAT important? The Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAC, completed in-depth curriculum research and surveys of business programs and highly respected professors from around the world. And their research identified a quantifiable set of skills and metrics. Skills that business schools deem most important for successful students. Scoring well on the GMAT can’t ensure that you will become a business big-shot, but it’s a good indicator as to whether you’re prepared for the rigors of a MIM program. 

In fact, one of the ways the GMAT helps to identify strong MIM candidates is through the preparation process.  Preparing for the GMAT requires study skills, self-motivation and the ability to seek out and utilize resources, like prep courses and software, tutors and study guides.  Go for a combination of guided preparation by professional instructors, working on your own, and practice.  If you work best on your own, consider individual tutoring sessions, which you can do in-person or online.  If you enjoy group work, opt for a small, individualized course.

Finally, the GMAT is also a test of your ability to plan and manage your time.  You may have spent your undergraduate doing late-night cram sessions for exams, but the GMAT requires a time investment and dedicated study plan. How much time should you set aside?  Experts suggest putting aside 3-4 months of preparation time before taking the GMAT—and warn that a prep course by itself won’t prepare you enough. You can get an idea of what is in store by taking GMAT’s Mini Quiz.

Learn more about earning your Master’s in Management.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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