The MBA application process is unique amongst all other graduate degrees in that it requires several years of post-undergrad work experience. The road you take after you graduate college, therefore is critical if you want to make the best impression.
Most successful MBA applicants had a plan for their professional life after college graduation, a plan which began long before they donned the cap and gown. If you are still in college and you plan to go back for your MBA one day, your journey actually starts now, not years from now. Hopefully you have already put thought into how you will get from A to B and are already going about setting yourself up to hit the milestones.
While it doesn’t necessarily matter what you do specifically in your early career, it does matter how you do it.
In other words, in order to make the most of the four-to-six years between undergrad and MBA, there needs to be a thread, or a track that appears to be intentional, purposeful, and progressively responsible. Admissions committees are amazingly adept at separating those whose experience has been accretive vs. those whose experience has been haphazard or random. Running towards opportunities to grasp the next rung vs. away from opportunities that you didn’t really like can demonstrate ambition and assertiveness, which schools associate with successful business leaders.
But what if you drifted a bit after college and were late to discover your true passion?
If this describes you, know that you are in good company. The good news is, schools can forgive a bit of professional meandering. The key to couching this kind of experience in an impressive way (vs. a detrimental way) will be directly connected to your ability to convey the passion and commitment you have (finally) established to your ultimate vision and purpose. Often, this means taking an extra year or two before applying.
One mistake clients often make here is when they “discover” their passion a bit late, and then immediately apply to business school vs. gathering some experience first.
If your work history is completely unrelated to your post MBA career vision, schools will often balk. Doing this basically gives an MBA program an easy out, where they tell you to go work in your area of passion for a couple years and then come back to apply later.
A remedy for this conundrum is to thoughtfully find some kind of thread in your checkered past that you can also connect to your future.
If your experience seems random, you must work extra hard to find the commonalities because the admissions committee is not going to work very hard to do so. Think in generalities, vs. specifics, and pull out the transferrable skills which will connect to your chosen post MBA industry area. This can sometimes prevent adcoms from thinking you are not ready when you very well may be.