6 Reasons Why You Need Work Experience Before Your MBA Application

The value of working before graduate business school cannot be understated

If you’re fresh out of college and considering a beeline for grad school, you might want to consider the value of entering the workforce before you do.

For example, applying to business school with some career experience under your belt might make you eligible for an online MBA with GMAT waiver; a perk like that could save you time, money, and a little sanity in the process.

Here’s six reasons why you need work experience before applying for your MBA:

1. You’ll be more clear about what you want

Too often, applying to grad school is more about ambivalence than having a specific goal. Such a lack of clarity can be a waste of time — and money — which could be better spent by heading to work first. In fact, if you’re not sure what to do next, diving into the workforce can be the perfect place to help you figure it out. Then, when your career goals are more sharply defined, you can apply to the program that will perfectly suit your needs.

2. You’ll be better prepared to hold your own

While it’s true that the application process can be competitive, so can the programs themselves. Writer Alan Henry says he was surprised at how much more fierce the competition was in grad school compared to his college years: “It was a completely different world beyond my undergrad career, where most of us were content to do our work individually.”

3. You’ll be more independent

Depending on the type of MBA program you’re entering, you may face a variety of external pressures — both in your personal life, and from within the school itself. In an article for Business Insider, former Google Engineering Director Theo Vassilakis says that entering the workforce before grad school may help you develop an independent perspective, “in your field of study, in industrial applications of research, and in life in general.”

4. You’ll develop the soft skills that may matter the most 

These include things like communication, collaboration, and other interpersonal skills that will enhance your professionalism. Work environments provide an array of opportunities to hone such qualities—which MBA admissions committees are eager to see displayed.

5. You’ll have more financial stability

Likely, you’re already aware of how expensive business school can be. However, if you enter the workforce after college, you’ll have more financial stability both during and after school. Many employers will also help foot the bill for your graduate degree, which makes tuition reimbursement a great incentive to get a job first.

6. You’ll enjoy a competitive edge 

Depending on what type of MBA program you’re applying to, you may be required to have a solid amount of work experience on your resume. Even if that’s not the case, business schools assess candidates based on a variety of factors, and having work experience will give you a leg up on other applicants.

If you’re thinking about heading to grad business school right after graduating from college, take some time to consider your options first. The experience and focus you’ll gain from spending some time in the workforce will prove quite valuable when you’re ready to fill out that MBA application down the road. 

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