A common concern from prospective clients with non-traditional work experience is whether or not that experience will be considered relevant in an MBA classroom. I have heard this from doctors, lawyers, military officers, and more. Believe it or not, the less traditional one’s work experience, (often) the more an admissions committee is interested!
When putting together a cohort, admissions committee members strive to make it as diverse as possible, in every way possible – job function, industry, culture, etc. Imagine if a class was made up of just bankers? Or IT engineers? How rich would the discussion be across all courses? Not very! As such, schools are delighted when non-traditional applicants apply, and you can be assured that your application will get noticed. The assumption is that individuals coming from a non-business background will approach issues and problems with a different perspective and set of priorities that may allow for additional learning opportunities for their classmates (and possibly even the faculty!).
There are a few things to be cognizant of as a non-traditional applicant. While generally speaking an admissions committee will be interested in you simply based on your background, there are two things you need to have solidly in your profile in order to be seriously considered for admission:
1. Stellar grades in a few courses that can indicate your ability to succeed with quant work (e.g. statistics, calculus) in a demanding MBA program, and/or a top-notch GMAT or GRE score
Since much of your degree’s coursework may not be directly relatable to a business program’s curriculum, the school needs to be confident you will be able to handle the MBA courses. If quant courses are missing from your transcript (and if you don’t knock the GMAT or GRE out of the park), you should consider taking an algebra, business math, or statistics course at a local community college or online to alleviate any concern there (aim for a B or better).
2. A solid reason for needing an MBA
Believe it or not there are serial degree seekers out there. Since the reason you are interested in an MBA will most likely not be obvious based on your previous work experience, you need to do an even better job of presenting your career goals and objectives. Why is an MBA necessary to get you where you want to go?
Bottom line, you are going to attract positive attention from an admissions committee based on your non-traditional background. Now that you have their attention, make your case for acceptance with a mind-blowing application that shows them you fit in, i.e. that you will thrive in their program and need the education their program provides to achieve your dreams.
This is the final blog post in our MBA Work Experience Series.
Jen Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing. Want Jen to help you get accepted to business school? Click here to get in touch!
• 4 Steps for Showing Fit in Your MBA Application [Podcast Episode]
• What Qualifies as “Good” Work Experience to an MBA Admissions Committee?
• Write an MBA Goals Essays that Turns the Adcom into Your Cheerleaders!