How Work Experience Plays In Admissions
If you’re applying for an MBA, you probably know that you’ll most likely need to have some work experience under your belt.
But just how much does work experience matter and what do MBA admissions members look for?
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently spoke to experts on how work experience influences MBA admissions.
WHAT ADMISSIONS LOOKS FOR
Experts say that MBA admissions officers will tend to seek out applicants who can show evidence of growth, discipline, and leadership.
Chris Wszalek, executive director of graduate admissions and student recruitment at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management in New York, tells US News that MBA applicants should seek out jobs “that would give them the opportunity to grow and show their individual strengths.”
HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE
At most top b-schools, the average work experience tends to fall between 3-4 years and many of the MBA students fall in the age range of 27-29 years old, according to Magoosh, an online test prep company.
But experts also stress that there isn’t a set requirement when it comes to work experience length.
“Often applicants see the average years of work experience on admitted student profiles and think it is the magic number to acquire in terms of length of experience,” Emily Archambeault, director of masters admissions at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh, tells US News. “We aren’t looking for a specific number of years of work experience, but rather the quality of work and professional maturity. For some applicants, professional maturity comes more quickly than the average and the growth they have in a short period of time allows them to be highly competitive in the admission process.”
TYPES OF JOBS
When it comes to the type of work MBA admissions seeks out, jobs in finance or technology seem to be most popular.
When it comes to company size, experts say, it varies.
“A big global brand can definitely get you instant recognition and the adcom would not have to think twice about the quality/nature of experience you mention in your profile,” according to MBA Crystal Ball. “Apples to apples, it is definitely a great idea to be associated with a big company. But the nuance comes in if you can bring in a lot more at a smaller firm or even a startup.”
Additionally, experts say any experience in management is useful.
“Experience managing is a plus,” April Klimkiewicz, a career coach and owner of Bliss Evolution, tells US News. “If you’ve managed a coffee shop, or even informally managed a team or project, you are displaying the ability to manage.”