Choosing the Right MBA Clubs and Extracurricular Activities
There’s no doubt that clubs and extracurriculars can help you get into b-school. They’re an excellent way to beef up your application so that you stand out in the crowd; but what about once you get into your MBA program? Does that mean you don’t have to worry about all those “extras” anymore?
Not even close.
Successful MBA students soak up every ounce of experience they can during their program, and clubs and extracurricular activities are a big piece of that. In fact, what you do outside of the classroom can be just as, if not more, important than what you learn in lecture. They key is to make sure you go about your extracurriculars the right way.
We reached out to Alex Brown, an MBA Admissions Expert at Clear Admit, to glean his insight. Brown has spent 14 years in MBA admissions working at the University of Delaware and the Wharton School, so he knows precisely what it takes to succeed as an MBA.
Why Are MBA Clubs and Extracurricular Activities Important?
“Clubs can be a very important part of the job search,” explained Brown. “Some industry-related clubs will develop their own resume guides, conduct mock interviews, and undertake various other activities to compliment the work of career services. So, it’s pretty important to engage with the clubs that relate to your MBA career goals. It’s also important to seek out leadership positions in organizations that support your interests. Those leadership positions can help you stand out during the recruiting process. Also, if your school hosts industry conferences, then participating in the development of the conferences is a great opportunity.”
How Do You Choose the Right Activity?
The first thing to remember is that it’s impossible to do everything! You can’t sign up for 20 clubs in the first week and expect to handle them all. There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself with more than you can handle. Instead, you need to think long and hard about what activities fit your goals, lifestyle, and experience.
There are a few things that Brown recommends keeping in mind.
- Career Switchers: “You should absolutely seek out a career-related club for your new industry,” said Brown. Activities that allow you to explore your new industry before you start your new career can save you time, money, and frustration by giving you an early look at what you’ve chosen.
- Pre–Planned Job: “If you are staying in the same industry and have a job in hand after graduation, then more exploration might be interesting, especially in clubs focused more on a long-term goal,” Brown explained. Just because you’re not changing industries doesn’t mean that you can’t join a club or extracurricular that allows you to dig deeper into your career field.
- Looking Outside of Your Career: “It’s also important to remember that there are clubs that support interests outside of careers, as well as clubs that support certain demographic groups,” said Brown. Even if you’re not thinking about your career, there are still activities that will provide you with a supportive group of like-minded individuals, making your MBA experience more rewarding.
Matching Your Activities To Your Goals
It’s also important to consider your goals and ambitions before choosing the activity that’s right for you. It’s not as simple as choosing between clubs. There are also case competitions, international trips, and more.
“For some career switchers, the career clubs are very important,” said Brown. “While a business plan competition might be a good platform for entrepreneurs, for someone seeking more leadership experiences, a trek up a mountain with other students might be revealing. Those who aspire to develop their cultural intelligence will be more focused on seeking out international trips, maybe even a study abroad program.”
Helping You Choose the Right Activity
Now, all of this might sound great on paper, but when it comes down to it, how do you decide between the dozens of clubs and extracurricular activities? Well, it’s not easy, but you can start by reviewing your school website and undertaking traditional research. First, find out what sounds interesting to you and then start to dig deeper by reaching out to club members. Beyond that, there’s also help on campus.
“Once on campus, there will be events held to promote clubs and so forth, so attending those events will be important,” Alex said. “Just remember, you don’t want to end up joining too many clubs. You want to join the most important clubs for you, and make sure you have the time to really engage with those clubs’ activities.”
What’s the Biggest Benefit to Joining a MBA Club or Extracurricular?
“The biggest benefit is engaging with like-minded students who are members of the same clubs, and therefore share similar interests, as well as potentially networking with leaders in industries in which you are interested,” said Alex. “And having fun.”
There’s nothing to lose. So, go out there and find the clubs and activities at your school that fit you.