MBA Admissions Committees Care About More Than Brand
Some of you may think that because you have worked in marketing but not at P&G, worked in banking but not at Goldman Sachs, or worked in technology but not at Google that your experience may not count as much to admissions committees when compared against applicants who have worked for brands with cache. For those of you with those assumptions, fear not. The quality of the work that you do is much more important than working at a name-brand institution.
Admissions committees are looking to fill their cohorts with individuals having as wide a range of experiences as possible, and especially experience that is relevant to an MBA curriculum. When faculty are teaching a particular subject, the lessons come to life when students have real world experience pertaining to the topic. As such, the skills and knowledge gained from significant projects managed from start to finish matter. Involvement with strategic initiatives matters. You don’t have to have been involved in a multi-million-dollar deal to gain strong leadership and management skills.
Small Projects Matter!
Even small projects that you “own” can be extremely valuable in providing expertise in particular areas. As you advance in your career, always be on the lookout for projects that allow you to take on a significant leadership role and provide you with a certain degree of autonomy.
When it comes time to reduce the work you’ve done to one bullet point on your resume, you want to be able to make that bullet as impactful as possible, for example, “Led a team of eight to cut costs in the supply chain by 20% through strategic re-purposing of older machines.”
This example shows leadership, strategic thinking and tangible results, all really important stuff! That’s what admissions committees want to see. It doesn’t matter if the size of the project was $10,000 or $1,000,000, or that it was done at Boeing or Jane’s Jewelry Factory. What matters is that you provided significant results to your company.
In addition to having tangible real world experience to share in the classroom, admissions committees are also looking for upward mobility. With any luck you have a strong track record of promotions, as that is the easiest way to signal that mobility, and would be immediately obvious on a resume. Even if you don’t, however, you can still showcase the fact that your responsibilities have increased over time through thoughtful wording in your resume, such as “Rewarded with project management of X following successful implementation of social media planning schedule.” Essays might also be a place to show the upward movement, depending on the topic. Being awarded by your company with greater responsibilities is the clearest signal you can give that you have what it takes to succeed in the MBA and in your career thereafter.
If you have concerns or questions about whether or not your work experience would be considered relevant for an MBA program, please ask your questions in a comment below or access our advice privately.
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? Click here!