Preparing for your MBA interviews might be gruelling and challenging, but they might not be the hardest questions you’re faced with this year. When you’re asked the inevitable—“What’s on your Christmas list?”—it's good to have a few ideas up your sleeve.
Here’s the five things every MBA applicant should put on their Christmas wish list. Loved ones, take note.
1. A sharp new suit
T-shirt, jeans, hoodie. Mark Zuckerberg has become almost as recognizable for casual work attire as he has been for his innovations in the social media world.
Work fashion trends seem to suggest this style is catching on, with formerly suited professionals being told to take off their ties and roll up their sleeves, literally, at work.
But studies suggest that the way we dress can really impact our success, both through the way we’re perceived by others and the way that we think. Wearing formal business attire allows us to think more abstractly; it also stands to improve our negotiation skills in the boardroom.
You don’t need to break the bank to get a Brooks Brothers three-piece or Gucci trouser suit—a well-fitted, simple suit can cost you less than $200 these days. Its return on investment may be even greater.
2. A MOOC subscription
Christmas might be over, but the cold, dark evenings continue well into February. Now’s the best time to trade evenings in front of the TV for evenings of learning through massive open online courses (MOOCs).
Websites like Coursera or EdX have a wide spanning collection of online courses in everything from data analytics to corporate sustainability. Moreover, it gives you access to top quality education from world class institutions including Harvard Business School, Wharton, and HEC Paris.
Most courses on Coursera and EdX are free to sign up for, but often you need to pay a subscription to receive an official certification, or to access certain specializations. Compared to the cost of an MBA, this is high quality business education for pennies.
3. A really good book
Curled up in front of the fire, there’s no better time than Christmas to get stuck into a really good book.
For those eyeing up their first try at the GMAT, Beyond The Content by Logan Thompson is a great guide to approaching test preparation through mindfulness and meditation.
MIT Sloan professor Hal Gregerson recommends The Creativity Code by Marcus du Sautoy, which offers a powerful insight into how creativity and artistic ideas are influencing the way that artificial intelligence is being designed.
A book doesn’t have to be the dud gift at the bottom of the pile—it can trigger inspiration, interest, and intrigue for all aspects of learning that you might come across at business school.
4. An Intention Tracker pad
Have you ever tried achieving everything you want and need to do? It’s impossible. MBA applicants might be juggling their careers, test preparation, business school applications, and free time—24 hours is hardly enough.
Time machines aren’t yet available commercially, but an Intention Tracker pad might be the next best thing. Each day you take a moment to carefully detail everything you want to achieve that day, in both practical and emotional ways. You can tick each thing off as you go.
If you’re a keen list maker, or someone who gets things done methodically, this might just be the stocking filler for you.
5. A new bike
Fed up with practising your putting game? Out with the five iron and in with the lycra—cycling is the new golf when it comes to networking.
Golf, the favored game of President Trump and rich white men around the world, has seen a 20% decline in players over the past decade, beckoning the rise of the more modern sport of cycling. Cycling spin-offs, like spinning, have boomed in popularity too.
A new bike might not be the cheapest present, and you’ll have to hope that you’re really high up on Santa’s nice list, but a fresh set of wheels could be the key to building a network inside and outside of the MBA classroom.