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  • Writer's pictureLauren Wong

Application Breakdown Part 3: Work Experience

Work experience is another part of the application that, similar to academic record, is kind of hard to change. After all, it’s not like one can go back in time and change what their jobs were. At the same time though, work experience has the benefit of being more malleable in the application process. In general, one should aim for at least a few years of experience - at minimum 3. This is to ensure that you have enough work experience to “bring something to the table”. MBA admissions do give more favor to roles and companies that are “top tier” but ultimately, admissions are looking for candidates that have made the most of their roles where they delivered results, contributed to the company’s development, and grew as a person. Best of all it doesn’t have to be a top tier business role! One of the best things about business school is that you get to meet so many different people from different backgrounds, whether culturally, work experience, industry, and etc. And so, MBA programs aren’t just looking for a slew of consultants, investment bankers, and so on - they are looking for anyone that can demonstrate they have work experience where they made an impact so that they can bring the same impact to their MBA. So, how does one show that? Well, when tackling the work experience portion of the MBA application there are several ways to show work experience besides just listing your roles in the application form and that comes down to CV/resume and the personal statements. For both, you want to focus on telling a story, showing the impact you made throughout your roles, and both the personal and professional progression and development you’ve made. The essay is a medium that makes this pretty handy. Regardless of the prompt, think how you’ll weave your work experience in and the narrative you want to tell: how has your specific work experience brought you to a place where you feel a MBA will help you progress further. I always advise using the CV/resume as a starting point when thinking of work experience. Even though the work experience narrative is better constructed in free form essays, the CV/resume allows one to reflect and timeline their work experience in a structured way. Below are some tips on how to go about starting the resume:

  • College extracurricular and jobs/internships, while important at one time, are not the priority here. Feel free to list extracurricular under education but make sure it doesn’t take up too much space. Additionally, unless your internship is important to your narrative, it should also be included

  • For those with companies that are not top tier or self-employed, don’t stress and think that it disqualifies you, but make sure you put a little description that details the success of that company so that admissions don’t have to go searching

  • Showing a progression in roles through layout. After listing your roles in reverse chronological order, make sure to also list your responsibilities and achievements for each role in a way that shows your development and tells a story. Whether you moved up a company or made a lateral move, make sure to show your progression and growth

  • As you list your responsibilities and achievements in the resume, think of them in two ways

1. What was the quantifiable impact you made? Did you improve sales or reduce labor time, if so, list that percent or numbers so that admissions can very clearly know the superb impact you had

2. What did you personally learn from them? While you shouldn’t put this in the CV/resume itself, this will be useful for the essay, as you detail the development and growth you made. On my next blog post I’ll dive further into the essay portion of the application.

For more info and guidance on how to best highlight your work experience please reach out to me for a free 30 min. chat where we can further discuss your MBA application journey.

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