Friday, October 30, 2009

Work experience: more than just years on the job.

When reviewing applications for admission to MBA programs, it's likely
that you'll begin to notice a pattern. Most programs request similar
information regarding your place of residence, academic record and GMAT
score. Some programs have begun to accept the GRE as well.

It is fairly standard for a program to ask you to quantify your work
experience by total number of years or months you've committed to the
full-time workforce. Others may even inquire about internship, co-op, or
part-time experience.

Regardless of how the question is asked, the weight of the importance
lies not with how many years/months/days you braved the elements to catch
the train/bus/car to work to assume your position in your corporate-beige
yet tastefully decorated office/cubicle/desk. The significance of your
work, and therefore relevance to the MBA application, is directly related
to your contribution, the challenges you overcame, the transferable
skills you acquired, and how you grew as a leader.

At Indiana University, most successful applicants have had two or more
years of relevant work experience after an undergraduate degree. We look
at full-time and part-time job responsibilities, and consider your
skills, accomplishments, aptitude for a managerial career and knowledge
of the business environment. We also request a detailed résumé to better
understand your career progress and achievements.

Demonstration of significant and relevant work experience may be judged
slightly differently across programs; however, its importance is
universal. The experience that you've amassed in your pre-MBA career,
provides a frame of reference during classroom discussions, giving you
and your classmates a deeper, more colorful curricular debate. Additionally,
in the competitive post-MBA employment environment that exists today,
the ability to translate your work experience into demonstrated skills and leadership ability may help differentiate you from other strong candidates.

If you are currently working and planning on an MBA down the road, what
can you do now to best prepare yourself, in terms of work experience, for
a successful application? Ensure that the work you perform today and its
results are not merely ecbatic but purposeful. Take on responsibilities
in and out of the workplace that will allow you to grow as a manager and
a leader. Good luck!

Kate O'Malley
Indiana University
Kelley School of Business
Marketing and Admissions
MBA '07

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