Even with the ever-changing business landscape, one factor has stayed the same - if you want to break into a high-level position in the corporate world, you need to have an MBA. While earlier you had to wait 3-12 years to gather work experience to be even eligible for applying, many B-schools are now opening their prestigious MBA programs for the early career applicants with only 1-2 years of experience.
But, why would B-schools give a chance to early career applicants?
The grueling MBA application process which consists of standardized tests, resumes, essays, letter of recommendations and interviews is designed to scrutinize the applicants and prod them to find if they are MBA material, i.e.,-
- If their career pedigree proves them as a leader with strong communication skills.
- If they have well thought-out and realistic post-MBA goals.
- If they have core quantitative and analytical skills.
- If they are in the right place in their career for an MBA.
To sum up, it’s about finding the right candidates who can truly benefit from an MBA, and make the most out of it; in this fact lies your answer - If your career, however short, has shaped your goals and put you in significant roles where you exhibited the above-mentioned qualities, then the admission committee would see that and give you a chance regardless of the years others have over you. For them, it’s about quality and not quantity.
Is it for me?
While an early career MBA may sound like a cure to all ailments, it really isn’t. There is no doubt about an early career MBA being a polarizing topic - you will hear as much praise as criticism. Ultimately, it all comes back to you - if it’s a right fit, you are in for a ride but if it isn’t, it might just be a blunder of a lifetime that you are going to regret. To find out if it’s the right fit for you, just put yourself on the couch and ask this question:
“At this point in my career, what benefits me more - education or experience? What is more important to my goals?”
While answering, you might realize that an MBA is just the right push that you need right now or you might decide to wait sometime and strengthen your candidacy more.
If you are still not sure, take a look at the pros and cons of an early career MBA:
- Accelerated career progression – You not only get an early start in terms of education, but also instead of wasting away years in uninteresting job roles with no relevance to your goals, with an MBA degree, you can break early into the corporate sector, and work your way up from there.
- A well-defined career path - Many people do MBA to switch careers, but if you are already sure about what you want, and even have a detailed post-MBA goals list, with early MBA you can carve yourself a focused path, and gain relevant skills and work experience from the beginning itself.
- Easier transition - As a recent college graduate you are already used to being full-time students, hence you might find your transition smoother than those who have been working for years. Also, you are more likely to perform better on standardized tests.
- Placement – As a young graduate, your future career choices are crucial. Owing to your little experience, it can a bit intimidating and frustrating. But with MBA programs, your B-school helps you reach your long-term goals by guiding you to just the right live projects, internships, and other recruitment opportunities including the on-campus placement.
- Exposure and development – A well-structured early career MBA program from a reputable B-school not only facilitates your academic growth but also professional and personal growth with their diverse clubs, activities, and events giving you ample opportunity to grow your skills and resume.
- Connections – If you get in, you’ll be part of a diverse and extraordinary student community where everyone has something to offer. An MBA is an opportunity for you to learn from them, and form lifelong connections with like-minded people. Not to forget, a strong alumni network can guide you while you are doing MBA, and afterward.
- Salary and employability – Compared to MBA graduates with years of work experience, the starting salary of early-career MBA graduates is less. Also, many employers would prefer candidates with more experience for a higher level job. But as you gain more experience, the gap would start bridging.
- Keeping up with the curriculum and your peers – An MBA is an intensive and tightly structured program. It can be hard to keep up with, especially, when you have a little practical experience to understand the theoretical concepts. Similarly, you might find yourself lacking, therefore, intimidated among people who have much more life and work experience over you.
- Losing a way out - Many people go for MBA after years of working either because they want to switch careers or else they are familiar with their chosen field and are sure of their decision. If you go for an MBA this early in your career, some years down the line, you might find out that you aren’t happy with the field that you chose, and lose the chance to use MBA to switch careers.
- Tough admission process (High Competition) - For the year 2016, Harvard Business School had 9,543 applicants! So, you get the idea of how popular an MBA degree is. This is where the tough application process comes in. Your competitors are going to be some of the most exceptional people with significant experience and you will have to prove that you are better than them.
How to ace your MBA admission essays as an early career graduate?
The answer to this mystery is to be specific, clear and memorable in your admission essays. The admission committee reads thousands of essays every day, if you are going to copy and paste generic statements of you being a leader, then you are asking to be forgotten. Draw a distinct picture of you; "I am a leader" isn't enough, you need to back it up with an incident where you acted as a leader, and move the focus of that story from ‘What’ to ‘Why’ and ‘How’. If you are answering a question about why you chose MBA from that particular B-school, then refer to specific programs, clubs, activities, etc which that B-school offers, and would help your goals.
If we haven’t scared you off yet, and you still think that the early career MBA is for you, then, here’s a list of 60+ B-schools offering MBA to early career graduates
|B-School||Early Career Graduate Ratio||Average Age||Average Work Experience||Work Experience Range|
|Harvard Business School||
|Stanford Graduate School of Business||4||0-14|
|Wharton MBA (University of Pennsylvania)||5||0-15|
|Sloan School of Management (MIT)||4.87||0-15|
|Chicago Booth School of Business (University of Chicago)||28||5|
|Columbia Business School (Columbia University)||28||5||3-7|
|Stern School of Business (New York University - NYU)||96% with prior work experience||28
Age range 21-36
|Haas School of Business (University of California, Berkeley)||28
Age range 24-33
|Anderson School of Management (UCLA)||13% with 0-3 years of experience||5||6+|
|Marshall School of Business (USC)||28||5|
|McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University||28
Age Range 23-38
|5.59||3.08 - 8.83|
|UC Davis Graduate School of Management (University of California, Davis)||29||5.6|
|Robert H Smith School of Business, University of Maryland)||29||5.3|
|Carroll School of Management - Boston College||28
Age Range 23-37
|Boston University School of Management||27
Age Range 23-31
|Olin Graduate School of Business, Babson College||5.8 (1 year MBA)
5.5 (2 year MBA)
|Erivan K. Haub School of Business - Saint Joseph’s University||1-3|
|Questrom School of Business, Boston University||27
Age Range 23-31
Other B-schools that you should check-out are
Carey Business School, John Hopkins (University in Baltimore, Maryland)
Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, University of Delaware
College of Business, San Francisco State University
Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University
Fox School of Business, Temple University
Frank G.Zarb School of Business, Hofstra University
La Salle University School of Business
Lucas Graduate School of Business, University of Baltimore
Northern Illinois University
Rohrer College of Business, Rowan University
Peter J. Tobin College of Business, St. John’s University
Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University
Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore
Anglia Ruskin University
University of Bedfordshire
University of East London
LCA Business School
Leeds Beckett School
Liverpool John Moores University
University of Derby
University of Northampton
University of Sunderland
University of West London
West London College
London School of Commerce
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), Vancouver, BC (Canada)
Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia
Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia
University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
Vancouver Island University (SPP), Nanaimo, British Columbia
Australian National University - College of Business and Economics
Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT
Melbourne Business Schools(MBS) - University of Melbourne
Monash University- Graduate School of Business
Sydney Business school (SBS) - University of Wollongong
La Trobe University - La Trobe Business School
MGSM Macquarie Graduate School of Management
If an early career MBA is a right fit for you, then you get more years to reap the financial and professional benefits of MBA, but if it isn’t, you need to be patient and wait a few years. MBA is a huge investment, so take your time and look at the pros and cons.
If you can’t ignore the cons but still want to start early, then you can always go for Masters in Management which is specifically tailored for early career graduates!