Is Work Experience Necessary Before An MBA? – Nandan Jha, SIBM Bangalore
Your student life is going to end soon, but you’re clueless about the future. Not sure whether to go for an MBA or join any company and get some work experience before going for MBA?
If that’s the case, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. There are many others who’re stuck between these two options and finding it tough to choose any one. At this point, you can do two things — either continue to be dazed or come out of this shell and build a future you can be proud of.
The programs in MBA are largely designed to capitalize on the knowledge that the students bring to the classroom. And for that model to be useful it presses on the need for students to have some prior work experience. The core objective of an MBA program is to create management professionals. Someone who can provide direction and leadership to the employees and help contribute in achieving the company’s goals. Problem-solving attitude and the understanding of business process comes as the prime qualities of a managerial professional. They are required to seek answers to the questions like ‘why does a problem exist’ rather than ‘what to do and how to do it’.
Although the number of MBA aspirants in the country has grown exponentially over the past few years. And students from varied educational backgrounds are opting for an MBA degree, most of them are fresher with little or no prior experience. They perceive MBA as the sure shot path to success right from the beginning of their career. Thus, choosing to forego having work experience prior to MBA. But before you make a choice, let’s take a look at the benefits of having work experience prior to pursuing MBA.
You will be confident from day one
MBA is not about theoretical knowledge but practical applications of what you’ve read in books until now. If you’ve worked in the field for some time, you’ll definitely find it easy to get along and keep your head high throughout those two years.
Helps define a clear career path
A freshly graduated student has more of a general understanding of the career path they want to take. It’s very common for young people to find their passion after switching two or three jobs. The initial years that a fresher spends in the workplace environment provide him with valuable lessons. There are times when people switch fields altogether changing the career direction.
If you have a prior work experience, you may have a better understanding of the career path that you want to take up. With a clearly defined career goal, previous knowledge and practical experience can help you to drive the best out of your academic endeavours.
You are preferred at the time of placement
Past work experience allows you to have a great time during placement season. Believe it or not, most companies offering good packages prefer to hire someone who has got some work experience. It allows them to spend less on training and have the person doing productive work as soon as possible.
While having some experience prior to MBA has its own benefits, it doesn’t mean you can’t go for it as a fresher. Being a fresher has its own advantages.
Open to Ideas
The most important advantage that fresher have is an open mind. They have new ideas and a fresh perspective which is not biased towards any particular field or sector. They are not constrained by rules and hence can think and do things which experienced people might not. This also makes them have a higher risk taking capacity.
In summer placements, many companies tend to prefer fresher over people with work-experience, to join them for projects. Experienced students have a certain amount of prejudice in going about things, adopting past practices, and thus being rather stereotypical. On the other hand, fresher are more open to new ideas and are more likely to take bold, innovative steps in conducting their summer projects.
When MBA: chance favours only those who court her
Who is better- Fresher or experienced. The answer is that this depends on what is the task at hand. If the task at hand is totally new to the person who has been given the responsibility of carrying it out, then ideally, there should not be any difference in the way it is done, provided the people (the fresher and the one with experience) are of equal calibre. Typically some problems encountered are, a fresher might feel overwhelmed and may not perform to his full potential; a person with work experience may approach some task on the nature of which he has partial information with some overconfidence, and may not perform to his potential.
Again if the task is something that the person with experience has done before – the answer is obvious, ceteris paribus. In case of a completely new task though, a fresher has the advantage of having an open mind. People who have been in the workforce may carry strong biases.
The essence of the whole story is that whether you are a fresher or an experienced person, you must know your abilities and shortcoming alike, to be a successful manager.