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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Minorities and the MBA: Follow Your Passion

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Business school provides a path that allows you to follow your passion and advance (or recreate) your career, while gaining important leadership skills. And diversity - which brings unique insights, experiences and perspectives to the MBA classroom - is integral to the rich fabric of this invaluable business school experience.

Diversity in the classroom better prepares all students to compete in a multiethnic and multiracial global marketplace. It's also a key priority for employers across the country that target business schools with diverse student bodies.

That's all good news for minority candidates. Yet, even as many top business schools strive to boost minority applications and corporate recruiters clamor for a diverse pool of graduates, enrollment of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans remain significantly underrepresented. This under-representation can be attributed, in part, to lack of role models in both the business and academic worlds - a concern often noted by women as well.

Also, like many women, minorities often tend toward careers such as medicine or law, which they view as making a positive contribution to society (evidenced by a recent study citing under-represented minorities comprising 13 percent of law and 12 percent of medical school students, in comparison to just six percent at top business schools). At the same time, some minorities attribution their hesitation to pursue an MBA because of concern they won't fit the "business school mold."

Motivation, Commitment and Leadership Potential

The truth is, there is no "typical MBA type" that you need to fit into, regardless of the stereotypes that have evolved over the years. According to a U.S. Department of Education study, business school students studying in the United States are more diverse than any other graduate program.

And there is no single undergraduate major, business background or extracurricular accomplishment common to all MBAs. (That's not to say you won't need quantitative and analytic skills for business school. But you can always take courses like calculus, statistics or economics in order to achieve competitive scores on your entrance exams and, subsequently, to do well in the core curriculum of your MBA program.)

Neither is there a mutual career objective or industry in which all MBAs have set their sights on. Rather, business school students represent a broad range of backgrounds from sales, consulting and nonprofit organizations, to engineering, marketing and research analysts.

What business school students do have overwhelmingly in common, however, are clear goals, demonstrated academic ability, a desire to learn and grow, and an aptitude for leadership.

And if this sounds like you - then an MBA degree may be too.

An Abundance of Resources

So you've decided an MBA is for you...but where do you start?

There's an abundance of resources created to inform, inspire and support minorities in their quest for the MBA.

One such resource is MBADiversity (mbadiversity.org), a multicultural nonprofit organization comprised of MBAs and business talent worldwide who possess a shared dedication to creating a sense of unity among all races, nationalities, genders and creeds.

MBADiversity's three-pronged mission seeks to: support prospective business school students through test/application preparation and the identification of financial options; nurture friendships, job searches and unity amongst current MBA students and alumni; and to assist business schools and companies in promoting their institutions, recruiting talent and facilitating a true understanding of diversity.

MBADiversity includes a GMAT Prep Scholarship program, plus a Resource Center where you can find insight, advice and step-by-step instructions to guide you through the MBA application process.

Equally enlightening is Management Leadership for Tomorrow (ml4t.org), a New York-based non-profit organization with a mission of increasing the presence of qualified students of color in leading entry-level careers and major graduate business schools. MLT works collaboratively with numerous pre-college programs, higher education institutions and other nonprofit organizations.

Of particular interest is the MLT Career Preparation Program (CP), which helps prepare high-achieving minority college juniors and seniors for placement in business-related jobs that lead to admission to top MBA programs. MLT also offers a comprehensive 12-month MBA Preparation program. Designed to help young minority professionals successfully apply to leading business schools, the program's content ranges from GMAT preparation and individual work plans, to school research and selection, writing/interviewing skills, financial planning and essay/application strategies.

The National Black MBA Association (nbmbaa.org) features 39 local chapters spanning the country, each providing education, access and networking opportunities throughout the year. The organization holds an annual recruiting and networking conference, offers an employment network, and annually distributes more than $200,000 in awards to PhD, MBA and undergraduate students.

Similarly, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (nshmba.org), which serves 29 chapters and 6,500 members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, works to prepare Hispanics for leadership positions through graduate management education and professional development. The NSHMBA offers MBA prep events and resources, along with a scholarship program for outstanding Hispanics (membership required) enrolled in an MBA program at an accredited college or university.

Other membership organizations providing scholarships, various resources and networking opportunities for minorities include the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (cgsm.org). The Consortium, which promotes diversity and inclusion in American business, has 13 member schools (representing some of the top business schools in the U.S.) and offers various programs to students of any of its member schools. Additionally, the Consortium awards a number of merit-based, full-tuition fellowships each year.

Also well worth exploring - if you're aiming for the financial services industry - is the Robert A. Toigo Foundation (toigofoundation.org). The Foundation supports the ongoing advancement of exceptional minority MBA students and alumni within the finance industry through scholarships (available to students enrolled in one of the Foundation's 15 alliance schools), mentoring, internships and job placement.

Additional information about funding your MBA is available at FinAid (finaid.org). One of the most comprehensive resources about student financial aid on the Web, this easy-to-navigate site provides a wealth of information for minority students including step-by-step information about applying for financial aid form the federal government.

Virtual Visits to B-Schools of Choice

You'll also want to look to business school Web sites for information about the programs each has available. One of the best starting points is the Ten School Diversity Alliance (tenschools.com), which seeks to increase awareness and participation of under-represented populations in graduate management education.

The site provides information about the informational and recruiting events TSDA hosts throughout the year, along with direct links to each of the 10 schools in the alliance including: UCLA Anderson School of Management; Chicago GSB; Columbia Business School; Darden at University of Virginia; Harvard Business School; the Kellogg School of Management; MIT Sloan; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth; and Wharton at University of Pennsylvania.

A Rewarding Journey

The pursuit of an MBA poses a challenge in some form - be it emotional, academic or financial - for every prospective candidate. And for minorities, there are often additional and unique obstacles to overcome.

But you're not alone.

There are an abundance of people, programs and organizations dedicated to guiding you into and through your business school education.

True, business school may not always be the easiest path to take. Yet, ultimately, your MBA will transcend race and cultural boundaries, provide professional as well as personal rewards - and prove to be a journey well worth taking.


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Source by Chioma Isiadinso