I’m a lawyer applying to MBA programs. Will my background turn off potential employers?

“I am an Argentine lawyer with a LL&M degree in Law & Economics from a top school in Argentina. I am now considering applying to an MBA at a top business school in the USA.

However, I’m not sure whether a lawyer background is going to interest a potential employer. In addition, it may be difficult to obtain a summer employment due to a lack of substantive business experience. Any advice?”

The Harvard MBA says:

Actually, having doubts about your ability to convince employers to let you transition to a different role or industry is one of the best reasons to go for a top-tier MBA.

Getting your Harvard MBA is like going to confession: All previous sins are absolved. 

Plenty of my friends at HBS had ZERO previous business experience.  Many came from the U.S. military (the last bastion of socialism in the U.S.).  Others came from a non-profit background.  Some were physicians.

The point is, none of them would ever have been hired by General Electric, McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and so on.  But with their Harvard MBA, they were able to do precisely that.

My friend Eron had no previous work experience, and came out of the Air Force.  Now he’s a very successful manager at Microsoft.  Same for my friend George, who was a Navy pilot, and is now a top performer at Goldman Sachs.

You’re paying a lot for your MBA–the least your school can do is put you on a fast track to get a job at a top employer, regardless of your previous lack of work experience.

5 Comments

  1. Posted June 20, 2008 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Penelope wrote a post today “Seven reasons why graduate school is outdated.”…do you agree?

  2. admin
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Fitarella,

    Penelope is technically right, but ultimately wrong for certain professions.

    The fact is that an MBA is a major selling point for an entire array of well-paying jobs, from banker to consultant to brand manager.

    But if you’re looking to start your own company, your MBA will be useful for one thing–being able to get in touch with other alumni.

  3. Vet
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I understand that you’re saying your friends from military backgrounds didn’t have private sector experience, but saying that their Air Force or Navy jobs weren’t “work experience,” especially given the significant leadership and managerial skills they require, is inaccurate and unfair to them.

  4. admin
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Vet,

    Apologies for the unintentional unfairness. Rather than saying that the Air Force and Navy aren’t work experience, I should say that they don’t provide “business experience.”

    Serving in the armed forces provides great leadership training; at one point, I even started working on a book proposal on this topic.

    My interest was sparked by the fact that a disproportionate number of Fortune 500 CEOs are military veterans, with the Marine Corps leading the way.

  5. Kel
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    It will get you an interview, each and every time.

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