Get on course: how to find the right masters in management
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Is a MiM is the right choice for me?
Masters in management (MiM) programmes are typically tailored for recent graduates or those with limited work experience who want a strong foundation in management. Masters of business administration (MBAs) are generally better suited to professionals with a few years of work who are looking to advance their careers or change direction or sector.
“It’s essential to assess your experience, long-term goals, and the skills you want to develop before deciding,” says Massimo Spagnuolo, associate director of recruitment and sales strategy for pre-experience programmes at HEC Paris. “Research the curriculum, programme structure and career outcomes of MiM and MBA programmes to get a clear picture of what to expect — and don’t forget to reach out to academic advisers, industry pros and alumni who can share valuable insights to guide you on the right path.”
Amber Wigmore Alvarez, of the graduate careers platform Highered, recommends this exercise: find 20-30 job or internship opportunities in your area of interest and copy and paste the descriptions into an online word cloud generator. “This word cloud of most frequently used words will help you identify a pattern,” she explains. “You want to be sure the programmes you’re applying to will help you meet those criteria.”
How will I find the programme that fits best?
It will be difficult to find a programme that ticks all your boxes, but be clear on your top priorities. Otherwise, it’s easy to get sidetracked on to a degree that does not fit your personality, just because it sounds appealing. “Rankings are a good starting point to screen programmes systematically,” says Kerstin Fehre, director of the Masters in International Management and Strategy at Vlerick Business School in Belgium. “Once you identify programmes that meet your needs, take every opportunity to better understand [them] and the school — each has its own particularities, cultures and ways of teaching that may or may not suit your personality,” says Prof Fehre. “Sign up for online or on-campus information sessions, ask to speak with current participants and alumni and maybe get the opinions of some companies you’d like to apply to after graduation.”
“Don’t ignore your gut feeling,” says Nyenrode Business University MiM adviser Lisa de Bie, in the Netherlands. “How did students, professors and advisers at the school behave towards you? The school will be a place where you will spend a lot of time, in and out of lecture hours and group projects.”
What do I need to know about applications?
The MiM application cycle typically runs from September to May. “Some MiM applications may also require you to take a GRE [graduate record examination] and GMAT [graduate management admission test], so make sure you start the process early to give yourself plenty of time to prepare,” advises Sarah Wilsey, programme director at Imperial College Business School.
You may also be invited to interview — either online or in person — to demonstrate your academic level and explain your strengths and weaknesses.
“The interview panel expects to meet the real authentic you and not the best version of yourself,” says Franck Gavoille, director of the Master in Management at ESSCA School of Management. “You should show that you and the school are a genuinely good fit.”
How can I maximise my chances of acceptance?
Be genuine, vulnerable and open, advises Thibault Séguret, MiM director at Insead. “You’ll find lots of sources online promising you the best advice on getting accepted in the programme of your dreams, sometimes for a fee,” he says. “But some of this advice might be biased or inaccurate. I’d recommend going direct to the students in a school, or young alumni from the programme . . . They’ll have a unique perspective.
“Refrain from following generic advice on how to build a great application — focus on building an application that’s unique and resembles you to the core. It takes time to put in words who you really are, but remember that any generic advice has already been applied hundreds of times, so the admission team will have heard it time and time again.”
Demonstrate curiosity and eagerness to interact with others, recommends Céline Foss, director of the Masters in International Business at Grenoble Ecole de Management. “Not knowing exactly which type of position to aim for after graduation is normal, but it’s still important to show that you’ve thought about your short- and medium-term professional objectives. You’ll also want to show that the curriculum is aligned with the outcomes you want for your career.”
How can I prepare to make the most of my MiM?
Be proactive and engaged — take an active role in this stage of your education. “Attend classes regularly, actively participate in discussions, ask questions and seek clarification when needed,” urges Florian Stahl, academic director of the MiM at University of Mannheim Business School. Try to follow a healthy lifestyle too, says Emilie Lagorsse, head of international recruitment at Iéseg in France. “It will be essential to acquire autonomy, organisation and regularity in your work so you can meet the deadlines of all the various courses, group projects and exams you must manage in parallel.”
Remember that your degree will be defined by your overall experience — not just by the lectures.
“Make sure you know what clubs and societies are available, what leadership positions you can apply to, and what extracurricular projects or initiatives are on offer,” says Kerstin Fehre. “Approach your programme with an open mind and be prepared to challenge yourself throughout.”