MBA Applications: What to do About Low Work Experience...

Business schools don’t like to admit students with less than two years of experience–but they will if a candidate really shines. As an undergrad, Nik Hazell was attending Oxford University as a rower and engineering student when he was injured during the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race. Hazell suddenly found himself with more time in his schedule. He wanted to stay at Oxford for his masters, and he cast around for the right academic path for him. An MBA from Oxford’s Saïd Business School sounded appealing, but Hazell had a problem: he had never worked in business, save for one week at a finance firm. Less than one percent of students admitted to Saïd have under two years of work experience, but Hazell says the admissions committee was impressed by his ability to balance rowing and engineering during his prior Oxford career. “Without juggling the extracurricular activity and his academics, they wouldn’t have considered me,” says Hazell, who ended up earning a place in the course and is now pursuing his MBA. “It showed that I could juggle a lot.” Many MBA programs do not publish hard and fast rules about minimum full-time work experience, but most internationally accredited business schools say they prefer at least two years, and many schools admit classes with average overall work experience of five to six years. Hazell’s story is an illustration of a principle espoused by MBA admissions directors: if a student with less than two years of work experience wants to apply for an MBA, he or she must be exemplary. Anna Farrus, head of admissions at Oxford – Saïd, says a strong academic background, scholarships like the Rhodes, internships and part-time work experience can help sway an admissions committee towards accepting...

Tips for Applying to B-School After Years in the Workforce...

The average age of business school applicants has been trending downward for the past decade, and with that, work experience expectations have shifted as well. But not everyone is ready or in a position to take the business school plunge at 26 years old. If you want to pursue an MBA in your early-30s and beyond, consider these specific tips as you put together your application package. 1. Show career progression:​ When applying to a top-tier business school, you’ll need to show the admissions committee a clear path of professional growth. Avoid looking stagnant, as the admissions team wants to admit students who continually seek to learn and advance their skills and leadership abilities. Even if you have held the same job for several years, you should demonstrate career progression either in the formal sense, with increasingly higher-level job titles, or by pointing out how you have gradually taken on greater responsibilities. Coach your recommenders to specifically address this upward trajectory in their letters of support, as this will help convey your dedication to your professional development. Make sure to ask a current or recent manager for that recommendation, as a letter from a supervisor who worked with you eight years ago might raise a red flag. If you do select a recommender from the more distant past, make sure that you have really kept in touch and they can speak to your professional progression and work habits now. Also, if you have had several jobs, don’t worry about squeezing all of them on to the MBA resume. Highlight only the most important positions and responsibilities. 2. Show strong leadership: It’s understandable that younger applicants won’t have many examples of leadership one year out of school, but as time...