Over 2.3 lakh students vied for a seat in top B-schools in CAT 2016 and the results are now out. Some would have performed really well, while many others could now be thinking of taking a shot at belling the CAT again in 2017. If you are in the latter category, the thought of taking a year off to prepare for an exam must have crossed your mind. Is there anything useful that you can do along with your CAT preparation which helps build your resume - something which can help you get into a B-school of your choice and also take up a career after an MBA?
Well, there are several options that you can consider. And these can work not only for those who would repeat the exam this year but also for those who would write it for the first time in 2017.
1. Go for ‘meaningful’ internship experience
This should be first thing on your list - nothing builds your resume better than actual work experience and an internship allows you to get it in the limited time you will have. Also don’t forget the stipend that will lessen your financial burden and give you some capital power before you finish college.
An internship, especially a management internship, gives you an idea of what your working life would be like once your MBA is completed. What’s more, it helps you with group discussions and personal interview sessions: Having acquired practical knowledge while handling real projects in your internship, you are better equipped to participate and put forward your views with confidence.
If you are looking for an International MBA admit, then here’s the good news: Internships count towards your professional experience which can add value to your application, especially if you have little or no post bachelor’s work experience which is required by most of the B-Schools abroad.
2. If not an office, try home internships
If you don’t want to devote your whole day to the internship because you have coaching classes or college to attend, opt for virtual internships which usually require you to work a couple of hours a day from the comfort of your home. During the internship, take feedback from your mentor, set up weekly calls and work on deadlines to ensure that your internship experience is smooth.
Also, there’s more to internships than stipend - You get to polish your resume, hone your skills, learn the basic work ethics, get to use new technologies and solve real problems. This would help you (and your resume!) to stand out among the crowd.
3. Volunteer for a social cause
Volunteer and dedicate time to a social cause you believe in. Before stepping into a B-school, broaden your perspective. The experience and learning which you get as a volunteer is something which you won’t get in classrooms.
B-schools look for candidates who are sure of what they’re doing and are team players. You develop leadership skills and understand the importance of ‘team spirit’ – and this is the difference which the volunteering experience brings in.
4. Start a blog
Even if you do not consider yourself a ‘writer’, I would suggest that you start blogging. Building a positive digital presence will add to your profile. B-schools are looking for candidates with strong communication skills. Chronicle your life journey or write about something interesting that happened to you. Share a story on the blog or just start by writing about technology - some aspect which interests you. Polish your writing (and vocabulary) and ready yourself to write essays and applications for your dream B-schools.
5. Learn a relevant skill
Every day, there is news of some technology breakthrough, a new marketing tool or scientific development. It is essential to keep up with change and be updated on all that’s new. Learn a skill which is relevant to your field of interest. Refer to online resources or take a MOOC (massive online open course). Participate in online contests and case studies. International B-schools conduct contests for students who are interested in pursuing an MBA abroad - participating in such events could be a great experience. You would also get tested on your analytical and logical reasoning skills, even before taking the mock tests.
Having a bit of real-world exposure under your belt gives you an edge when you interview for that B-school spot. Building a great career (and a stellar resume) is a step by step process. Don’t wait for an opportunity to come and seek you, when you can build your profile right now.
The author is founder of internshala.com - an internship and training portal