Real World Work Experience and the MBA
The Economic Times of India explores the value of getting work experience before applying to an MBA program…
Why Get Work Experience before Enrolling for MBA
B-Schools are increasingly roping in a number of younger and lesser-experienced MBA aspirants. Ross Geraghty delves deeper into this trend while mentioning that it is still advisable to gain considerable work experience before enrolling for a business programme.
Unlike for most educational courses, for an admission to an MBA course, a minimum of three years of work experience in a managerial role is crucial. This figure can be higher in some cases.
In rare cases an institute will accept recent graduates. This, too, is done for exceptionally talented students.
There are a few reasons why you need to have experience under your belt before enrolling for an MBA. Firstly, without experience, you cannot be sure whether you are cut out for and are genuinely interested in a career in business.
Even if you do, then you need to be aware of the field are you best suited for and your long-term goals.
With the time as well as the financial commitment (some courses cost over US $100,000 if you factor in the sabbatical from your earnings as well as the costs of the course, relocation and so on) you will need to be absolutely sure that you are doing the right thing by pursuing an MBA degree.
Additionally, when participating in the case studies and peer group sessions that an MBA course consists of, you will be able to play a constructive and creative part in the discussions amongst people who, most likely, have spent quite some time in a managerial position.
Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of QS is one of the many experts who urge caution against opting for an MBA without any work experience.
According to him, “Even if you are an exceptional student, and schools are fighting over themselves to offer you a place in an MBA programme, we advise against this simply because you won’t be able to extract the most from your experience at the school. You won’t be in a strong position to know exactly what you want, and to contribute fully to the programme. Thus, experience is imperative.”
B-Schools, like the companies who employ MBAs, are also fighting a ‘war for talent’ and are in fierce competition to recruit the best candidates. In this respect, business schools spend considerable resources tracking down and recruiting the most appropriately talented individuals.
This equals a higher success rate for their MBA graduates into the world’s top companies, greater prestige for the school and, ultimately, a positive cycle of excellence the same as any other business would aspire to, including the opportunity to charge more for the education they offer.
While your academic background is critical – a good first class degree and a good GMAT score – it is your personal qualities and work experience that will increase your prospects of being accepted for an MBA course. During case studies for your marketing module, for instance, you will need to bring your experience to the table and pass on your knowledge and expertise to your peers.
The world’s top B-Schools believe that diversity of work experience, as well as background and nationality, breeds an atmosphere of international ‘peerlearning’ . You will benefit as much from your peers as from lecturers while pursuing an MBA.
Statistics from the QS MBA Applicant Research 2007, where almost 5,000 aspiring MBAs were surveyed, show that the average age of people entering MBA programmes was down to 26.8 on average in 2007 (25.9 in Asia) compared with 28 in 2005.
Incidentally, the average work experience among Indians is a little over two years, compared to the USA where people have a little more than five years of pre-MBA work experience.
Simon Stockley, Dean of the full-time MBA programme at Tanaka Business School at Imperial College in London concurs, “Though the average experience for an MBA at Tanaka is seven years, the trend is increasingly moving towards lesser experienced students because people want to graduate younger and get on with their careers. Since it’s a global marketplace, people feel that they need to get their MBAs younger and still have time to relocate. However, it is also true that applicants of the right quality for us are also getting younger.”
A career in business may not necessarily prelude to pursuing an MBA, though chances are that your application will be unsuccessful if you do not have any work experience.
However, if such is the case and you want to directly gain an admission into graduate business programmes, a master’s is more likely to be the route for you. If you’ve had a few years of work experience and you want to move to the next stage, then an MBA is definitely what you should be looking at.
You can also personalise your selection of the best business schools in the world, according to the criteria that are most important to you by searching QS Search and Scorecard on internet.