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Don’t Rush the MBA Decision: Not All Work Experience is Created Equal

January 15th, 2016 by ajoldersma

This post by Sharon Irwin-Foulon, Executive Director of Career Management and Corporate Recruiting at the Ivey Business School, originally appeared in the Huffington Post Business Blog on January 14, 2016.

We all know some things look good on paper but don’t always work in practice. And that sentiment should be taken into consideration when deciding if the time is right for an MBA. Just because you have the two years of experience that many of the world’s business schools require, doesn’t mean you are ready for an MBA. You should think more deeply about how to get the most out of your investment of time and money before applying to an MBA. We often see applicants rush this decision. At the Ivey Business School, we believe that a key question candidates should be asking themselves before applying to an MBA is: Does it make sense for me to get this degree right now? Here are some things to consider:

1.The admissions teams can help: The admissions team at Ivey is not in place to scrutinize or judge applicants. Instead, an important part of the team’s role is to ensure that you make the best decision possible, so you can get the most out of the program and contribute to the class community in a meaningful way. Where you are at in your own work journey before you arrive is a critical part of a successful outcome. Talk to us. We can help.

2.Quality over quantity: Be prepared to talk about the kind of work you have done. We are not interested in the length of time you have spent collecting a paycheque, but instead your ability to talk about the quality of work you have done. Tell us about the interactions you have experienced with internal or external clients and the projects you have contributed to. Bringing these kinds of experiences to formal classroom discussions is a critical part of learning in the case study classroom.

3.Failure is good for success: In the interview stage of your application, we are looking to hear about how you helped to move the organization or projects forward and the failures and successes you had on the way. Discussing failures is important because you can use them to explain why having an MBA might help you to do things differently if you had to do them again. Looking at the typical Ivey MBA class, the average number of years’ work experience is closer to four or five. While some students have less, this is the typical timeframe because it often takes that long to prove yourself at an organization and have the types of successes and failures that give you this depth of thinking. Reflect about what you have learned from your organizations and colleagues. This can make the difference between presenting as a moderate or a fantastic candidate.

Assuming that the requisite two years of work experience is enough to get you into the MBA program is a sign that you may not be thinking about this investment of time and money in a critical way. Instead you might be merely seeing it as a credential. To get the most out of your investment, don’t rush the decision to get your MBA.

 


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