Does Work Experience add value to MBA ?
This post is formally an entry for the InsideIIM ‘Great Indian B-School debate 2014’
Name: Arun Prasad
Institute: IIM Calcutta
Team Name: Transformers
Team Mate’s name: Premanand
Article I am refuting: http://insideiim.com/mba-why-wait/
Does prior work experience add value in a MBA Class? This has been an age old debate and probably will be forever. The importance of having experience before you do your MBA can never be understated. Here is how having experience provides a competitive advantage. Most MBA`s in India are pre-dominantly engineers. Most of them tend to start their preparation for CAT exam right after finishing Engineering or in the pre-final year and eventually crack it and secure admission in a top B-school. What happens after that?
Working in a firm teaches you some valuable skills that no B school would ever teach. Be it, people handling skills or liasioning with various departments, understanding work culture and business practices and so on. Most of the learning that happens in a job is often beyond the job description and tacit knowledge keeps on accumulating. Here are the key things that add value to your MBA if you have prior experience
Better Understanding of Subjects
Let’s typically look at the subjects taught in the first year. Say, Economics, Marketing, Organization behaviour and Finance. How can a fresher ever appreciate the balance sheet of a firm or vision and mission of a firm, or the new growth strategies that companies adopt or the operations strategy that the company uses to increase its productivity? Having an exposure to the business world provides a better understanding and appreciation for subjects being taught.
Diverse People handling skills
Having work experience in a large firm means you would have interacted and worked with a diverse group of people before. This gives you a definite advantage while working on group assignments or solving a case study. It also helps you to bring in your people management skills and hone your leadership skills.
Professors prefer an experienced class
The professors who taught us at IIM Calcutta were visibly happy and content taking class to an experienced set of students as compared to freshers. The experience of the class contributes more value added discussion and takes solving a case study to new level. Since there is diversification of industries, the class on a whole gets to hear various prospective to the same business problem. This facilitates in an engaging and informative classroom discussion and faculty end up learning from the class more often. Also, since the batch contains professionals with average 5 years of experience, there is a high level of professionalism when it comes to attending classes on time or meeting a deadline.
Informed career choice
The experienced professionals most of the time tend of have a relatively set and a stable career and a pretty impressive track record of career progression. They know why they are doing a MBA and what value it adds to them. The career road-map post MBA program is generally known and that is what is expected out a working professional. They make informed intelligent career decisions. But, in the case of fresher’s, they are not very sure what they want to do in life. They take a shot at MBA and see if things work out or not.
Having a considerable work experience (5-10 yrs) is any recruiter`s delight. Most of the MBA jobs, especially consulting require candidates to be well versed in one or more industry. Most of the jobs are tailor made to suit an experienced MBA than a fresher. If I had no experience, I don’t know what I would have talked about in my interviews. If you closely look at B-school essays, they tend to ask for “Most challenging situation” or “Tell me about a time when you —-”. So, MBA is more suited for experienced professionals. The economics of training and selection kicks in and for sure and at the end of the day, it makes sense for a recruiter to hire a candidate with experience and MBA.
To conclude, personally, to me, having a good work experience before doing your MBA definitely adds value and you`d imbibe more out of the program. Most of the MBA Programs offered by international B-Schools typically tend to take applications from candidates possessing at least 3-5 years of experience. MBA gives you a glimpse of various functions of an organization and having worked or interacted with them before gives you a better understanding of how things operate.
I am currently pursuing my PGDM in Manufacturing (PGPEX-VLM) From Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. I have about 6 years of experience in Design, Manufacturing and Analysis in Aerospace and Industrial sectors. I am one of the Placement Representatives of the Program and the External relations representative. I have written various articles on MBA admission on various MBA Admission forums. I also occasionally blog at my site http://www.aroundynamics.com/
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