2Minute GMAT

Guest Post From Stacy Blackman

Your Candidacy:  Community Service/Extracurricular Activities

Business schools pride themselves on training future leaders, not just educating a bunch of people who know how to calculate an IRR and overuse the word “leverage.”  They look out for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them.  Some young business people feel that even though they have not prioritized “extracurricular” activities early in their careers, they will definitely emphasize these sorts of activities once they are more established.  However, more often than not, the patterns we establish towards community activities early in our careers remain fairly steady.  If you feel that your commitment over the last several years to outside causes does not reflect the balance you want to establish in your life…well, put your money where your mouth is and get involved.

Leverage your interests

Why are extracurricular activities important to begin with?

  • They show that an individual is multi-dimensional.  They demonstrate interests, passions, and personality.
  • Being involved outside of work shows that you can balance multiple commitments.
  • They can show that you have a larger view of the world – that you see what is happening outside of your office and you are interested in being involved and contributing in some way.
  • They make you a more interesting person – someone that can contribute to the diversity and vitality of a class and alumni network.
  • It’s an opportunity to demonstrate qualities such as creativity, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and initiative.

If you haven’t been participating in outside activities, look up a few opportunities on the internet and get involved next weekend.  It’s really as simple as that, to be honest.  Candidates who get involved even early in the year they apply will have a six- or even nine-month track record by the time apps are due.  Or, if you have been involved with outside activities over the last couple of years, consider stepping your activities up a notch.

When thinking about ways to become more involved, don’t get hung up on traditional volunteer work.  There are many, many ways to become involved and highlight your unique contributions.  A good place to start is with your own interests and passions.  Think hard about what excites you, and how you can leverage those interests.


Founded in 2001, Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped thousands of MBA applicants gain admission to the most selective business schools in the world.  The Stacy Blackman team, comprised of MBA graduates, former admissions officers and expert writers, editors and marketers, helps clients develop and implement a winning marketing strategy.  Stacy Blackman clients have a significantly increased probability of admission to top schools and are frequent recipients of merit scholarships.  The company is regularly featured in publications such as BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist.   Visit the Stacy Blackman blog for daily news updates and admissions tips, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school by school guidance.

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