Updated: December 30, 2013 11:18AM
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I am a college political science major who is hoping to pursue an MBA at a top school. Since it is difficult to gain admission to the best programs I would like your advice about what I can do to give myself an edge. Is there anything in particular that will make me stand out or is admission only based upon GPA and GMAT scores?
Signed, Hopeful MBA
Dear Hopeful MBA,
You are right, in that top grades and test scores are still the gold standard for admission to a top MBA program at schools like Harvard, Stanford and the universities of Chicago and Michigan.
The good news is that there is still an opportunity for you to market yourself so that you will have a leg up on the competition.
Many business schools are finding that companies hiring their graduates want more than just classroom knowledge of management. They want to hire graduates with proven technology skills.
Classes such as software development, digital marketing and other computer-related communications skills are taking on new meaning at many of the top business schools.
Technology is permeating all areas of business and is no longer left to the IT office. When the computer system goes down for even a few hours it can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue. Loss of Internet service for a few days can have devastating consequences.
The recent storms that wreaked havoc in the Midwest provide a case in point.
Many companies that ship products subcontract to trucking companies by digital shipping orders.
If there is a glitch or down time then who is responsible for fixing the problem?
Is it the manufacturer, the shipper or the Internet provider?
Top business management needs the skills to solve technology problems as well as to deal with the bottom line consequences.
In a strange way it is a master-slave relationship.
Either a company masters technology or becomes its slave.
In today’s fast-paced world it doesn’t take management long to find out which role they are playing.
For example, I have been reading that an understanding of how to use the newly enhanced Google AdWords campaigns can have a positive impact on a business.
These skills are now being taught in seminars at top business schools because recruiting companies are demanding that their new hires have this knowledge.
So the answer to your question is that I would suggest that you take some technology courses while you are still an undergraduate.
If you can prove that you have a grasp of management principles as well as a handle on the role that technology plays in a business setting you should have an edge in your graduate school application process.