I’m about one year out of school, a very fine public university, and graduated with a 3.6 GPA in political science. As an undergrad, I was much more focused on a possible career in academia than in business, but now that I’ve had time to investigate the options further, I’m sure I want to pursue an MBA and a business career with an international focus (preferably involving Asia).
So my question for you is: what do you generally recommend I do to get on track toward that goal?
You’ve written before about the importance of having stand out experiences. I’ve lived in China (4 months as a student) and Malaysia (2 months as an intern with a conglomerate), and I may be joining the Peace Corps within the next year, so perhaps I have that area covered already. (?)
But what type of work experience do you think I need prior to applying to the top flight programs? It seems that it would be difficult to go the conventional route you’ve mentioned in other posts (I-banking or consulting) since I’m already out of university and am no longer exposed to their campus recruiting events.
Is this a familiar story? is there hope? Or has the ship already sailed?
The Harvard MBA says:
BJ, the good news is that you already have an unusual set of experiences. But you’re also right that if your only work experience is a single 2-month internship, it will be harder for you to get into business school.
As I’m fond of saying, MBA students are products, not customers. The school benefits from your achievements as an alum, not from your time at the school. Therefore, business schools want to admit students that have proven they can succeed in business after graduation. Your current set of experiences doesn’t offer a lot of evidence to support or contradict that goal.
Given your international focus, I’d recommend that you find some way to get a job in Asia. Since most of these employers don’t recruit on campus anyways, you’re not losing out by starting your search post-graduation.
Start networking with people you know, contacts from the company where you did your internship, and with alumni of your university. You don’t need a high-prestige job as the special assistant to the CEO of a billion-dollar company; any reasonable business experience will do. The fact that it’s occurring in Asia will make you more attractive to schools.
The general rule of thumb is to have 2 years of experience before you apply, but you might be able to get away with 1. If you’re willing to go through the application process twice, you may want to apply after your first year on the job to accelerate the process.
Good luck with your career plans!