Do You Need More Work Experience before Submitting a Strong Business School Application?

Often clients are confused when trying to determine if they have gathered enough work experience to return to business school.  Certainly it takes a few laps around the proverbial block to gather enough real world knowledge to be valuable in a classroom discussion—this is why B-schools require you to come with work experience.

If you wanted to go back to graduate school straight after college, you could have gone to law school or medical school, right?  Knowing admissions committees scrutinize every bit of post-undergraduate work experience with a fine-toothed comb, therefore, it only makes sense to make sure you know how they view your time spent in the professional world.

Professional is the operative word here.  While internships and work during college is valuable, for tabulation purposes in the application process (and the number which figures into the “average number of years work experience” in the b-school rankings), it is your work time from college graduation until matriculation that the admissions committees will use in your file.  Yes, that means you will actually be getting credit for the work you will do from the time you submit your application until you show up on campus as a new MBA candidate next fall.  So, if you have worked for three years and you submit your application in August for your dream school, they will actually assume you will be showing up with  four years of work experience instead of the three you have at the time you submit. When was the last time someone gave you credit for something you haven’t yet done?  Not a bad deal really, if you think about it.

If you are one of those applicants with fewer years of work experience than average, don’t fret.  That would be the signal to explain how the internship you had in college, or the part time job you undertook, or the position as Treasurer of your Student Government Association actually taught you something valuable which you can leverage in the classroom both for your own benefit and the benefit of your section mates.  After all, it was work, right?  Maybe you were simply not getting paid.

Again, schools will consider your pre-graduation work experience for purposes of evaluating your profile and application, but will only give you credit “on paper” for post-UG, professional, full time experience.  It’s up to you to posture and position all of your experience in a way which seems attractive.

The key question to ask when positing your work experience is:  Would someone outside my area of expertise consider this valuable if I were on their team?  If the answer is yes, by all means, highlight it in your application!

If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.

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