Work experience  


Emphasize results

Business schools want to accept applicants who will present an attractive prospect for companies that will be recruiting there, as a mark of prestige for any school is the number of companies hiring both summer interns as well as full-time employees after their graduation. It has always been the case that companies are interested in employees who have proven their ability to follow through on projects and make sure that things get done. Talking strategy is great, but that's useless without executing a business plan. No matter what your employment is or has been, don't just talk about the roles you filled or summarize the types of projects you worked on. What did you accomplish? How did you personally affect change in the company, for the better? How did you improve the company's bottom line?

Consultants and investment bankers
are a dime a dozen

Each year, business schools receive a sea of applications from prospective students following the "typical" plan for success: graduate from college, work for one of the larger consulting firms or banks for 2 years, apply to business school. And yes, there is in fact an implicit understanding between business schools and a number of firms, that they'll continue to recruit there as long as the schools continue to accept a certain number of their employees. However, the number of these employees applying far outweighs the quota for consultants and I-bankers. What to do? Like any other applicant, you need to emphasize your leadership and teamwork skills; however, anything you can add that shows additional responsibilities you've taken on will help you stand out from the pack. For the most part it's understood that a junior consultant or I-banker will not have had as much responsibility as more senior employees, but remember, you just need to make yourself stand out from the others who have the same work background as you. Therefore, think about what made you stand out from your peers. Did you plan the annual holiday party? Organize any charitable events such as the company's participation in Habitat for Humanity or Christmas in April? These are the things that will get you noticed, and you should emphasize the role you played and get as much leverage out of these as possible. It'll definitely make a difference.

If you are or have been unemployed

Particularly these days, unemployment is the new reality for many and admissions committees, even at the top schools, will not necessarily frown upon this. Brief stints of unemployment need hardly be mentioned. Longer stretches will be evaluated based on what you did in the time you were unemployed. Anything that makes you look like you were being productive in regards to furthering your career, be it taking classes to enhance existing skills, learning a new skill set, developing business plans for non-profit agencies on a pro bono basis, freelancing, etc., will help your case. Ah, but what if you're currently unemployed? Well, schools want students who view the business school experience as part of a well thought out plan, and not something to do as a fallback in case they don't land a new job. Try to land some sort of contract or short-term work, particularly if you're planning on using b-school as a stepping stone to a career in a different field. Even if it's non-paying, you can spin it as part of your plan to test out this new direction before you commit to it long-term. Bottom line, whether you've been laid off or quit or are taking a sabbatical, make it clear that you've seized control of your destiny and that your actions are part of a plan to help you achieve your long-term career and life goals. If there's one thing admissions committees hate, it's a wishy-washy person who gives off the appearance of going where circumstances take him or her.



 Who we are | Getting into a top school | The B-School Essays advantage
Our services | Useful links | Contact us | Site Map