No Experience? Poor Grades? No Problem!

No Experience? Poor Grades? No Problem!

During the application process, many candidates may be anxious about discussing certain areas of their past background. Every applicant will have weak points. To many, a lack of work experience or mediocre undergraduate performance seem like deal breakers. However, experts say that such disadvantages can be overcome. Here are some strategies for doing just that.

Below Average Work Experience

A majority of the top MBA programs tend to seek applicants who have at least two years of workplace experience. For those who lack such experience, it may be helpful to highlight other areas of your application. Linda Abraham is CEO and founder of, a leading MBA admissions consultancy. In an article for Poets & Quants, Abraham says applicants lacking work experience should demonstrate the following characteristics in their essay, resume, and recommendations:

  • Affirmative, practical reasons for applying at this specific time.
  • Outstanding professional growth.
  • Exceptional impact, leadership, achievement.
  • Maturity.
  • Ability to contribute socially and academically to the program.

Often, applicants lacking work experience can demonstrate their potential through extracurricular activities. According to Clear Admit, an MBA resource, utilizing extracurricular and undergraduate activities can demonstrate leadership experience and potential.

“As a younger applicant, it is important for you to use whatever experiences you have had thus far (internships, collegiate activities, part-time work, community service, etc.) to demonstrate your leadership and responsibility, displaying your experience as well as your potential for personal growth and ability to benefit your target MBA programs,” Clear Admit reports.

Lack of Rigorous Undergraduate Coursework

A stellar academic background can demonstrate to admissions committees that you have a strong working knowledge. Stacy Blackman, a contributor at US News and founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, says MBA admissions committees often assess trends in an applicant’s transcript to look for an applicant’s experience in quantitative coursework. For applicants who lack rigorous quant coursework, it may be helpful to show initiative in improving quant skills.

“If your undergraduate academics are lacking and you’re a few years removed from student life, your best course of action is to show awareness of these weaknesses and enroll in a calculus or statistics class at a local community college,” Blackman says in a recent US News piece. “You want to show that you can handle the heavy math right now, despite what your transcript may lead the committee to believe. As a busy professional, adding to your workload in this way shows your ability to multitask – a strength worth highlighting.”

Rigorous coursework and workplace experience are two critical factors MBA admissions committees will look for in an applicant. If you lack these two, showing initiative and commitment to overcoming these weaknesses will demonstrate that you are a worthy candidate for admission.

Sources: US News, Poets & Quants,, Clear Admit

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