‘Prior work experience’ is just another phrase in an MBA

(This is an entry for The Great Indian B School Debate.)

Team Name – Cornflakes, anyone?

Team Members – Karthik Ram and Dipayan Sinha

B-school – Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

Refuting the article – http://insideiim.com/it-is-useful-to-have-around-2-years-of-industry-experience-prior-to-the-mba-program-interview-with-iim-indores-professor-ranjeet-nambudiri/


I am in a B-school. I am doing perfectly alright. I do not have prior work experience.

This is exactly where I begin my harangue against the motion which seems to suggest that previous work experience is much useful during the MBA programme. I do not want to challenge this using statistics (the profile of students leading the pack in terms of academic performance, or the choicest jobs on offer, etc.) which would disprove this hypothesis, which is null in ways more than one, before the blink of an eyelid. I intend to bring logic and rationality into the game and check-mate the proponent.

Taking a basic conventional policy-based approach, my first constructive would harp on the impressionable mind that a fresh graduate comes with. Irrespective of all the humdrum about MBA being an application-oriented degree, I cannot tell a lie and must confess that it comes with its fair share of memory exercise (mugging, as the Muggles call it)! Plotting age against memory would yield a strictly monotonically decreasing curve. In English, it means that as you age, your capacity to retain depreciates. Can’t get any simpler than this.

Coming to my worthy proponent’s comment on people with corporate experience enhancing the quality of case discussions in class, I think that all that it is, is a tussle for the share of voice more than anything else. In all probability, an analysis of a case would invariably result a person from company X describing what his company would have done in a similar scenario. As soon as he does that, other people with ‘work experience’ take it as a clarion call and start pitching in with their respective ex-companies’ policies and practices. By the end of the lecture, we go back confounded by all the subtle mud-slinging that went on and the actual learning lingers close to naught. My worthy opponent must be feeling otherwise because he is seated on the other side of the table.

Finally, I would like to drive home my point by saying that if prior work experience is so useful and results in students getting a better grasp of things, then why is it only brought into context for an MBA? Why not raise a hue and cry for it before getting into engineering? Why not let to-be-lawyers fight a few cases before welcoming them into the law schools? Would you still argue for the same point and let a person into the operating room with a scalpel in hand, before he has enrolled for an MBBS at least? If the answer to all of the above is a meek no, then why demand prior experience for us managers-of-tomorrow? We have a Summer Internship Programme perfectly in place to give us adequate corporate exposure. Then what is the rationale behind creating such a furore over nothing? Somehow it gives the impression that our management schools are uncertain about their own credibility in imparting quality business education to us ‘freshers’. Here I rest my case.


One comment


With all due respect to the writer, If this is the case why in this world (Of course not India) top B Schools demand prior work ex ? and why does the average work ex exposure at some well known so called “Ivy League” International B schools is 4-5 years?Of course there are reasons and I expect you to know it better since you are experiencing it.
Instead we should be thankful to IIMs that they are putting the criterion of only 1-2 years exposure!