How To Go Straight From College to MBA
It’s rare for a college grad to go straight to an MBA program without much experience, but not impossible. Such candidates often must demonstrate a high level of talent or academic strength in order to prove to top-tier MBA programs that they’re worthy of admission straight from college.
Stacy Blackman, head of Stacy Blackman Consulting and a Kellogg grad, recently discussed three key qualities young business school applicants should have if they’re looking to start an MBA straight from college.
This may seem like an obvious trait to have, but it’s how you demonstrate maturity that is important. Blackman says it’s important to “show that you have experience handling adult issues and problems and that you’re not intimidated by older, more senior professionals.” One of the best ways to demonstrate maturity, Blackman says, is through your letters of recommendations. Have your summer employer, internship supervisor, or other professional individual who can “objectively assess your professional promise and comment on your managerial abilities.” As Blackman points out, maturity isn’t a matter of growing older – it’s a matter of growing wiser.
Leadership is a quality that is often difficult for many younger applicants to demonstrate. However, MBA admissions committees aren’t interested in the scale of your achievements, Blackman says, but rather the fact that you made a mark. Leadership can come in the form of a program you started or a class where you served as a teaching assistant. Regardless of what leadership you have, it’s important to highlight teamwork as well. “Your leadership experience may arise from an extracurricular activity, and sensitivity to teamwork and collaboration in any leadership story demonstrates maturity and people skills,” Blackman says.
For many applicants, applying to business school requires two years of business experience. If you’re going to be applying straight from college, Blackman says, you need to convince admissions committees that this is truly the next best step for your career. “Show how your background to date has given you a true taste of what you want to do with your career and that you’re confident that this is the best next step for you,” Blackman says. It’s important to both show to MBA programs what you have to contribute and what you learn.
If you can demonstrate these three important skills, your age or lack of two-year work experience becomes far less important to your acceptance.