McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 7.95/10 (College follows relative grading; Avg. estimate around 7-7.3)
Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Former SEC Athlete
GMAT 620, GPA 3.8
Tuck | Mr. Army To MBB
GMAT 740, GPA 2.97
Columbia | Mr. Forbes 30 Under 30
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB Advanced Analytics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Impactful Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Banker To CPG Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 7.36/10
Ross | Mr. Leading-Edge Family Business
GMAT 740, GPA 2.89
Darden | Mr. Logistics Guy
GRE Not taken Yet, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Desi Boy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Stylist & Actor
GMAT 760 , GPA 9.5
Columbia | Mr. Ambitious Chemical Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Mr. Irish Biotech Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Cricketer Turned Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 7.15/10
Wharton | Mr. Planes And Laws
GRE 328, GPA 3.8
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Refrad
GMAT 700, GPA 3.94
Harvard | Mr. Supply Chain Photographer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Ms. Product Strategist
GMAT 700, GPA 7.3/10
Columbia | Mr. MBB Consultant
GRE 339, GPA 8.28
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Avocado Farmer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.08
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. International Development Consultant
Columbia | Mr. Wannabe Grad
GMAT 710, GPA 3.56
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3

How to Sell Work Experience in MBA Applications

Sell your work experience in MBA Applications

You know that you need to be strategic when describing your work experience in MBA applications.


Admissions Officers use criteria that may surprise you.

Seniority & Responsibility

To assess your level of seniority the committee looks for concrete indicators that you have reached a certain level, and they look beyond your job title. Do you supervise people? Lead projects? Interact with important clients? Deliver high profile presentations? Are you responsible for initiatives that are critical to strategic and financial growth? How much post-college, full-time experience do you have?


Committees look at traditional markers like promotions, raises and accolades. These signs are especially important in regimented fields like banking and consulting that tend to follow fixed promotion tracks. Schools also understand that some organizations are flat, and do think about growth more holistically. Are you getting more responsibility in terms of the role that you play on certain projects? Are you getting increased visibility within the organization? Is your function primarily clerical or executional, or more analytical and innovative? They also want to see that you are developing new skills, and it’s always good when you evolve from a tactical position into a broader strategic one.


The ability to work well with other people can be even more important than sheer intellect as an indicator of future success. Business schools know this, and admit people who can learn from and collaborate with their colleagues. They look for indicators that you can lead as well as contribute to a team from a subordinate or peer role. They also like to see evidence that you can work well cross-functionally and with people from different cultures.

Red Flags

Officers are also concerned about red flags, like job-hopping, stagnation, or long unexplained periods of unemployment. If you have any of these issues, it can be helpful to explain them in an optional essay.

Relevance to future plans

Schools evaluate your work experience in context. So, if you say that you want to go into consulting it’s important to highlight transferable skills, like your ability to multitask, perform under pressure and communicate clearly. Likewise, if all of your work experience is in marketing and you want to switch into investment banking be sure to emphasize your quantitative and research skills. They want to see that you can sell your qualifications to an employer, and that you can succeed in your postgraduate career.


To some extent schools do note the pedigree of your employer. If you work for McKinsey, Google or BlackRock they know that you have made it through a rigorous hiring process, and assume that your professional and interpersonal skills are of a certain caliber. (The schools will also hold you to a somewhat higher standard in terms of your professional sophistication, so it’s good to understand that they will have high expectations.) This is not to say that you can’t get into a top business school from a completely unknown firm – you definitely can. You may just have to work a bit harder to establish your credentials.

Applicants have many tools to help convey that they have the right professional credentials to excel in business school. Leverage your resume, your recommendations, your interview and your essays to tell the schools what they need to know.


Karen Marks has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, MIT, Duke, Georgetown, Northwestern, Booth, NYU, Ross, UVA and more. Clients have been awarded more than $10.2 million in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into at least one of their top-choice schools.