Every aspiring business graduate faces a dilemma before they sign up for an MBA – ‘Should I get some work experience first?’ or ‘Jump head on into getting my MBA?’ Many A-list business schools accept students without a work experience, but professional experts agree that a year or two of field experience in the relevant sector can really set a student apart in terms of competency.
It doesn’t just help you plan your professional trajectory in a better way but also gives you an edge over your fellow business peers. But why exactly should you acquire some work experience before you sign up for an MBA? Let’s find out:
Reasons to get work experience before getting an MBA
1. For a better start
If you don’t have any relevant work experience and land a job right after you finish your business degree, chances are you’ll land up in an entry-level or a mid-level position, which impacts your MBA salary, while your peers with substantial work experience can aim for a better designation and a bigger signing bonus.
While it’s a problem for some people, many business graduates are okay with the idea of working their way up, and do manage pretty well even without a year or two of work experience. In that sense it’s more of a personal choice, whether you want to learn on the job or you want to accumulate some practical hands-on knowledge before you sign on. It’s wiser to not be influenced by others’ decisions, since each of us work and learn differently, and not everyone shares the same financial backgrounds.
2. For a better and practical approach
People who do spend a year or two gathering work experience obviously have more direction when they are pursuing their MBAs; since they have closely observed and experienced the demands of a corporate workspace, it gives them the space to build on the business programs in their curriculum, which they are learning, and helps them implement it in a more immediate sense.
This is a crucial aspect considering management theories are invaluable in the field of MBA. You can refer to real-life case studies, which you have been a part of, and it can essentially make your business lessons more well-rounded and enriching.
3. It helps you save up
Many students have to take a gap year or two to work so that they can accumulate funds for their business degrees, and for them it’s not about choice. But this is a great way to recover your tuition fees for your MBA. We all know a business degree comes with a hefty tuition, and if you already have outstanding student debts from your graduate degree, chances are you don’t want to pile up on those by taking on another major loan. If you take up a job for a year or two and keep track of your finances, you’ll be able to pay for your own business degree without a lot of external help.
4. If you’re not working part-time
Though some students take up part-time jobs while studying for their business degrees, most aspirants want to take the time to focus wholly on their MBA programs. So if you plan to not work for the next two years, getting a head start on funds is a great idea and you can definitely spend a year working before you sign up for an MBA.
Especially if you’re supporting your family or are contributing to your family’s finances, you have to make peace with the fact that you won’t be able to start earning for another two years, until after you’ve finished your MBA. If you’ve had some money saved over from your work experience stint, that’s a valuable asset.
5. It prepares you for the competition
In case you didn’t know this already, your B-school experience is going to look very different from your college experience; it’s a lot more cutthroat and advanced because the stakes are higher and everyone is aware how close their dream job is. Having work experience basically helps you update your profile, where you already have an edge over your peers who have not had a job yet.
You know several aspects of how the job market looks like, you know how to sustain yourself in a high-powered environment, how to contribute to a company’s profit strategies. Remember your business degree is also about acquiring some very necessary soft skills like networking, coordination, delegations, management etc; after you’ve held a job you will be more aware about your weaknesses and can make informed decisions about what you need to work on during your business lessons.
Also read: Career Options after MBA
6. It will help you become more independent
Studying for an MBA is a stressful ordeal, where you have to balance many things at one, from case studies to practical work to networking, gathering professional acumen. If you have some significant experience in handling professional pressures in a corporate set-up, or managing deadlines, things would be a lot easier for you at business school because you already know how to keep your cool under pressure.
This also makes you more self-reliant and independent, you will see you can trust your own instincts and not have to depend on others’ insight or experience as much. This is especially key if you have work experience in the same field of study you are now pursuing in business school, you will realize it helps you out with your curriculum hugely.
7. Managing time like a pro
We all know how crucial time management is in B-school, but your job experience can teach you how to master time management on a professional scale. This can really set you apart from your peers, because you will already know how to finish a project in time, how to track the progress of a certain case, how to keep tabs on several things at once.
Your time in the professional world basically familiarises you with the tremendously fast-paced rigours of today’s professional and corporate set-up. This helps you understand your curriculum better, you will figure out why a program has been designed the way it has, and the purpose behind each business management tool.
8. It helps you with stress
Most students who went for job experience before an MBA have agreed that their time in the corporate sector has taught them how to manage the anxieties and actually channel them towards being more productive. After you spend a year or so working for a company, you will be acutely aware of the dictums of your work life, you will be so deft at handling professional stress, that your MBA curriculum will not seem as intimidating; it basically preps you up mentally to be able to keep you aware of all that is happening and streamlines your productivity.
9. Taking networking seriously
Establishing networks is a crucial aspect of your business degree, but things are different when you already have some experience in your professional field. You will actually find your colleagues in the same sphere as your current peers, your mentors, your seniors, business analysts etc.
Previous job experience teaches you how to establish professional-level contacts and how to make the best of them. This can go both ways, you can learn a lot from the people you have worked with in the past and actually use their insight to grow further in your course. The contacts you make at B-school can help you decide which path you want to pursue after you’ve scored an MBA.
MBA will give you a base and you will need a lot of practical experience. As a lot of institutions and courses demand work experience, its better have relevant work experience before enrolling for an MBA course.
Online MBA programs are delivered with the curricular structure like any other full-time course. The planning framework is such that it provides necessary knowledge and skill training to the candidate pursuing the course. With all the factors mentioned above, you can choose the best-suited MBA program for yourself. The selection process has to be a fastidious one with a precise review of all the individual points in determining the conclusion.
If you are keen on upgrading your career, check out Deakin Business School and upGrad’s Global MBA Program. The program has been designed to stand at par with the best on-campus MBA programs across the globe.
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Is it necessary to have work experience to get admission in a good b-school?
No, it is not really necessary to have work experience if you wish to pursue your MBA. There are plenty of great b-schools in India (including the IIMs) that welcome freshers. Your admission really depends on your scores in the entrance exam (such as CAT, SNAP or XAT) and your subsequent performance in the rounds that follow. That being said, most international b-schools in India as well as abroad prefer students with a certain amount of work experience. The same can also be said for a global MBA program. This is because the curriculum is designed to help students think strategically and expand their vision for international careers.
How many years of work experience is required before doing an MBA?
It depends on where you are planning to get your MBA/PGDM degree from. Many MBA colleges in India including the IIMs and IITs, may also take in freshers providing that they have the required high scores in entrance exams, have an excellent academic record, and perform brilliantly in the on-campus group discussion and personal interview rounds. However, if you are planning for a global MBA program, an executive MBA, or if you are planning to do your MBA abroad, then it would be better to have at least 5-7 years of work experience.
When should I get my MBA degree?
It depends on what direction you want your career to move in as well as your preferences with regards to your profession. If you would like to have an international career, or work in senior management roles within your domain, it is advisable to have at least 5-7 years of work experience before pursuing an MBA. The same can also be said for those who plan to start and manage their own business. However, if you wish to start your corporate career with a management role, you can pursue your MBA directly after graduation, or after 1-2 years of work experience.