In the past few months, I have received many emails from folks who wanted to apply business schools but were concerned about their unemployment status.
I have worked hard to put together How To Get Into Top MBA Program After Layoff, a premium report you can purchase at Scribd.com Digital Bookstore.
Below is a preview I would like to share with fellow GeekMBA360.com readers. Happy New Year!
The layoff "ruined" my master plan.
I graduated from college in 1997. With a Computer Science degree and a red hot job market, I was flying high. After a couple of stints at a large management consulting firm and a fast-growing, medium sized enterprise software company, I joined an Internet start-up that was backed by three top venture capital firms in the Silicon Valley.
I didn’t want to miss the dot com gold rush. But, I also knew that there were tremendous amount of risk associated with start-ups. If it didn’t work out, my plan was to attend a top business school to get an MBA. In the start-up company I worked for, I was the only product manager without an MBA. Five of my product management colleagues were recent MBA graduates from Stanford Business School.
I did a lot of research about applying top MBA programs. I identified people who could write my recommendations. I worked really hard to be a star at work. I got involved in volunteer activities. I felt that in a couple of years, I would have built an excellent resume of career advancement and leadership activities to make me a strong candidate for top MBA programs.
Things didn’t work according to my plan.
Less than 11 months after I joined the start-up, it laid off 50% of its employees. I was one of the victims.
The dot com bubble was bursting everywhere. There were a lot of unemployed, hungry, and frustrated young professionals hanging out in cafes, backpacking in developing countries, or moving back to live with parents.
Quarterlife Crisis was a popular read among young professionals at that time.
I was one of them. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I felt that I was in a very awkward position.
- I knew that I wanted to apply a top MBA program. But, how could I explain my layoff to the admission committee?
- Should I bet everything on going to a MBA program, and spend all of my time and energy to apply MBA programs in the next three months while I was unemployed?
- A lot of young professionals were applying business schools during the recession. The competition was fierce. What if I was rejected by all of the MBA programs?
- What if I was able to get another job? Should I stayed at the company for a couple of years before I applied business school? I knew that MBA schools didn’t like job hoppers. I was at the start-up for less than one year, which looked bad on my resume.
- Should I even apply MBA program? Maybe I’m better off by focusing on getting another job.
After the layoff, I spent three weeks to decompress, "relax", reflect, and figure out my next steps.
I remember for several days immediately after I got laid off, I went to a coworker’s apartment, watching TV, drinking beers, and commiserating about our bad lucks. But, I was really anxious, and stressed out inside. After a week, I told myself that I needed a structure, and a plan. I didn’t want to waste my time.
I spent a lot of time in cafes, writing down all of my thoughts. The writing process really helped me organize my thoughts. There were a lot of conflicting ideas, emotions, and thoughts in my mind. My ego also took a hit as I was laid off. I thought I did a good job, but why I was laid off while some "slacker colleagues" kept their jobs?
After about a week of reflection and thinking, I felt much better.
I told myself three things
- It’s bad that I was laid off. But, to put things into perspective, it’s much better that I got my first layoff when I was 26 years old, and single. I should be thankful for the experience, and not let it happen again to me when I got older with more family responsibilities.
- I would aggressively look for a job AND apply MBA program at the same time. I needed to do both.
- I needed to create a structure for myself. Otherwise, I would be wasting my time everyday by surfing the Internet, hanging out with other unemployed friends, sleeping in, and feeling depressed.
- I got a job offer with 15% pay raise in six weeks.
- I applied two top 5 MBA programs, and were accepted by both. According to official MBA admission statistics, it was the most competitive year ever in the history of MBA admission.
The layoff "ruined" my master plan. But, I made "game time adjustment", and figured out a better game plan that worked.
Let me share with you the specifics of my plan, and how I executed.