Can Your Job Help You Get an MBA?
- Student Tips
Many young professionals enroll in MBA programs to help advance their job prospects. However, they may fail to realise that the relationship can also be reversed: Working before you enroll in business school can not only help you gain entrance to an MBA programme, but it can also help you succeed once you’re there. Read on to learn more about how your work experience can be a vital factor in your MBA experience.
Leveraging an Asset
In the most basic sense, students attend school to learn. However, the backgrounds, knowledge and experiences people bring with them to school directly impact how they learn.
Consider Arushi Bhuraria, who enrolled in b-school at ESCP Europe after working as an Associate Consultant at Ernst & Young (EY) in India for three and a half years. She says, “Work experience before studying is very important -- especially for an MBA. My work experience has provided me with a platform I can build on during my studies. Having prior work experience helps students benefit from the ability to refer to their own experience during classroom discussions and to apply management theory to their existing practical knowledge.”
But the benefits of work experience aren’t limited to individuals. They also impact the overall classroom dynamic. Bhuraria further notes, “Having classmates with work experience gives an MBA student the opportunity to learn from each other’s prior experience and classroom discussion elevates to sharing and understanding business from multiple angles.”
Ramping Up Readiness
Another advantage of working before your MBA? Managing a job helps students prepare for the rigours of business school. Says Maria Tsianti, head of career services at ESCP Europe, “Work experience provides our MBA students with the personal and professional maturity they need to cope with a very demanding academic curriculum.”
Not only does it position students to be successful in the classroom, but it also makes an impression on employers looking for the best and brightest talent. Continues Tsianti, “Work experience also makes students the perfect candidates for most of our corporate partners like Bloomberg, UBS, Simon Kucher, Societe Generale, EY, etc. which are employing on an MBA level. The combination of their professional background in different sectors and industries, their international profile and their studies is a very attractive amalgam for high caliber companies, and makes them extremely employable.”
Your Ticket In?
An MBA looks great on your CV. But what looks even better? An MBA in Business with a job history to back it up. For this reason, combined with the valuable insights students who’ve worked bring to the table, many business schools are bumping students with real-world experience to the top of the list. Some even mandate it before admittance.
ESCP Europe’s MBA in International Management, for example, requires three years of professional experience. This innovative one year, full-time programme with a strong cross-cultural approach aims to prepare graduates to pursue diverse international career paths.
Certainly, this accredited MBA is intense: the curriculum covers all functional areas of management while simultaneously providing plenty of opportunities for experiential learning thanks to two built-in consultancy projects. In addition to its core curriculum, the MBA also offers 24 electives with double degrees available. Furthermore, in today’s global business environment, the fact that students atESCP Europe-- which boasts six urban campuses -- can study in two countries of their choice in either Europe or Asia is priceless.
And because all of its students have prior work experience, ESCP Europe also boasts a particularly vast and robust alumni network. Insists Tsianti, “This is probably the most important asset that ESCP Europe offers to its students. With more than 50,000 ESCP Europe Alumni around the world, working for some of the hottest start-ups and largest multinationals, our MBA students have the chance to build up a network like no other.”
Making the Switch
Have concerns about becoming a student again after so many years in the workforce? It’s likely easier than you think. Says Bhuraria, “The switch from work to studying was not very tough for me. As all students in the classroom come with work experience it is easier to blend in. And because most of the learning is through teamwork and practical learning methods, the transition isn’t difficult.”
Bhuraria also speaks to the benefits of the MBA in International Management’s international atmosphere. “This MBA provides me with international exposure which I lacked before and a great business network platform,” she says. “The program has a very diverse classroom with students from different countries and backgrounds which provides you with a brilliant networking system.”
When it comes time to switch back to the workforce later, meanwhile, students do so not only with new knowledge and skills, but also with ESCP Europe’s extensive career services behind them. Offers Tsianti, “Our Careers Services Department supports and guides students in every possible way with one-on-one careers consultations, interview and group assessment preparation, and workshops to enhance their skills in presenting, public speaking, etc. We also organize many evening company presentations on campus, skills and recruitment events and company HQ visits. The highlight of the year is our Annual Careers Fair in September, during which a variety of companies from the banking, finance, consultancy and other sectors gather on campus to present students with their internship and other opportunities.”
According to Tsianti, the MBAs also have access to their own Professional Development Week, which comprises sessions on careers in the UK and abroad, workshops, and a one-day MBTI group feedback session.
Of her decision to attend ESCP Europe Bhuraria says, “I felt that I needed to hone my leadership/managerial skills for my future growth so decided to do an MBA. I also thought the ESCP Europe’s MBA in International Management would give me the perfect platform for switching over to a new career path by providing a large business network and the best possible international exposure.”
The takeaway for young professionals thinking of doing an MBA? Choosing a programme which not only acknowledges but embraces your prior work experience may be the best way to maximize your b-school returns.
Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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