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How Do I Apply For An MBA With A Family Business Background?

Coming from a family business might not be the norm for MBAs, but your experience can lend itself to a strong MBA application, says Jenifer Turtschanow, CEO at ARINGO MBA Admissions

Tue Jul 21 2020



How should I frame my MBA application coming from a family business background?

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I have spent most of my career working with my family's business. We've been looking for new opportunities and ways of working, so I thought attending business school would be a great way to build the knowledge and network required.

I wondered whether a family business background is a good fit for top MBA programs, and how I can boost my chances of being accepted?

The Answer

This week's Applicant Question is answered by Jenifer Turtschanow, CEO of ARINGO Admissions Consulting.

Managing or working in a family business has tremendous value when applying to MBA programs.  

Whether you grew up working behind the front desk, launched a grassroots marketing campaign, or you manage the books, there are many hidden lessons and responsibilities that seem mundane, but prove to be quite valuable on your MBA resume and application(s). 

Working in a family business builds character, resiliency and leadership and management skills—a perfect combination for an MBA.  

You may not find managing a family business on the list of top feeder jobs for MBA programs, but admission committees love candidates with a strong background in family business. Younger generations tend to bring fresh ideas and innovate in ways that their parents could not envision or were too intimidated to try.  

Your family business resume

This is what admission committees like to hear about most: how you are moving the business forward. In your resume, you want to ensure that you are quantifying your impact and acknowledging all of your contributions. 

For instance, you may have known some of your clients or vendors since a young age, but how have you grown these relationships, negotiated new rates, or helped fill gaps in the supply chain?  

If you think about it, most businesses started off as a family business—going way back to farmers.  Some families sell or get their business acquired, but others are able to remain closely held and managed, helping them grow.