Although it is possible to study MBA master’s degree (Master in Business Administration and Management) upon completing university studies and without having professional experience, it is not the most common or recommended.
In these cases, students seek to acquire a degree and deepen their knowledge of business management to increase their chances of entering the labor market.
However, the most prestigious Business Schools that offer the best MBA masters establish among the access requirements to demonstrate professional experience.
This variable is key in the selection process to study MBA for most programs.
The average work experience of MBA students is 4 years. Experts and Business Schools recommend studying MBA when you have developed a set of skills and knowledge in a job position or during a specific period of time.
But why is it better to have work experience to study MBA? Keep reading and discover the reasons.
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Reasons why study MBA when you have work experience
The main reasons that explain why Business Schools select profiles with professional experience are the following:
- Work experience allows for a better understanding of the content of the MBA
The Master of Business Administration is an advanced program designed for participants to develop management competencies and business leadership skills.
Previous work experience allows students to gain contextual insight and a practical understanding of business challenges and opportunities. Therefore, previous experiences in performing functions in a company help students better understand the content of the program (concepts, techniques, theories, practical applications).
In turn, better assimilation of the content allows the knowledge to be applied more effectively in real business situations.
- Skills developed
Studying MBA with work experience is more advisable, since it is assumed that the candidate has developed certain skills and attitudes toward work.
Some of the most valued skills that evaluate the applicant in MBA selection process are stress management, self-knowledge, empathy, communication, critical thinking, problem and conflict resolution. The premise is that if candidates perform well in handling these situations, during MBA studies they will achieve greater mastery and excellent results in the performance of their work and implementation of the essential management skills demanded by today’s complex business scenario.
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- Maximize learning
As we have previously mentioned, the best MBA programs that rank in the most relevant rankings are very selective and carry out rigorous candidate selection processes. The objective is to fill the classrooms with disciplined members with the potential to exercise leadership.
Likewise, Business Schools are interested in MBA students wanting to grow professionally and personally and, at the same time, possessing individual strengths.
The objective is to create a dynamic, stimulating, and participatory learning climate where each student contributes value and shares experiences, thus producing feedback in the learning process.
Establishing a network of valuable contacts is in the DNA of MBA. However, for this to occur, students must be outstanding professionals or have the potential to achieve it. This is why it is important to study MBA with work experience.
In the business world, networking is very valuable. It allows you to establish connections with professionals from various fields, and gain experience and knowledge.
Additionally, a list of contacts with similar interests helps in career development.
And of course, contacts are a great support when it comes to making a professional change or when we need investors to launch a new business project.
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Work experience requirements in MBA: variables that are taken into account
The professional experience requirement varies depending on the educational center and the type of MBA program you wish to study. That is, the same experience is not required in a full-time program as if it is a part-time program or if it is an executive format.
Now, the criteria under which professional experience is evaluated in general terms are those set out below.
- Quality vs quantity
It is common for Business Schools to value the quality of the work performed or the relevance of the job position compared to the years of activity.
There is no exact rule or concrete number on how much experience is required to study for MBA. The selection committees of Business School candidates especially value the quality of the professional profile.
The various sources consulted agree in explaining that sometimes they select profiles with a few years of professional experience, but who have a profile suitable for studying MBA.
And, on the contrary, they have evaluated applications from people with 8 or 10 years of professional experience who they have considered not suitable to study MBA because they still need more experience in the professional world.
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- Job gap
MBA candidate selection committees look at career history. That is, they examine the career line, paying special attention to whether there has been a period of time in which one has not worked.
This is a warning sign. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation when applying for MBA, explain the circumstances, the causes, what it meant for you, and what you learned during that time.
Explaining the above in detail will allow you to provide a clarifying and contextual response to the members of the MBA admission committee if any questions arise about the reasons for that professional stop.
- The company where you work does matter
Some applicants mistakenly consider that it is not important to work in a major company to be selected for MBA. But contrary to this belief, admissions committees recognize that the type of company you work for does add points to your candidacy. There is no doubt that MBA applicants who have worked in well-known companies have an advantage in the admission process over other applicants.
The company where you have worked is not the only factor that matters when evaluating the profile of a candidate to study MBA. Another important factor is whether the applicant has success stories on their resume.
For example, if he has had a business idea that he has successfully materialized or if he assumed the direction of a new project in a company.
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What jobs add points to access MBA?
Other candidates with an advantage in the MBA admission process are those who hold jobs related to the business world.
Applicants who have been exposed to multiple areas of business or who have rotated through different departments are considered to have had greater opportunities to explore various professional fields and, therefore, have had to obtain professional experience from different sources.
Applicants who have worked in a start-up company, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur, are also highly regarded.
These usually have a complete vision of the business because this type of work requires versatility, since at the beginning of a company the resources are scarce and the personnel involved must be multifunctional.
Regardless of the job MBA candidate does, the most important thing is that he or she must demonstrate his or her interest in progressing academically and excelling professionally after obtaining the MBA degree.
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How much professional experience is ideal for studying MBA?
As we have seen, there is no established exact number of years of professional experience to study a Master’s in Business Management. It is considered normal for an applicant to study a full-time MBA to be at the beginning of their career, and their career is not expected to be long and successful.
These candidates are usually junior profiles, and it is considered normal for them to have a job with limited functions supervised by their superiors.
But as MBA applicant, it is assumed that you aspire to grow in that area and acquire other skills.
Ideally, for this type of full-time MBA and young candidates, 3 to 5 years of work experience would be the most appropriate number of years.
However, sometimes there are exceptions, and participants are admitted to a full-time MBA without experience thanks to their excellent academic profile and achievements at the university.
But, despite this, MBA candidate should work before entering a Business School. If they have worked for three or five years, they have a better idea of what MBA is, what it means to study for this master’s degree, and what they can achieve with this degree.
An experienced professional with a leadership position and an extensive resume would prefer to study an Executive MBA.
Some of the reasons include: they will study and interact with other professionals who are business leaders; They can combine professional activity with studies; and the contents of the study areas of the business management and management program are more advanced than those of a traditional MBA.
In the case of EMBAs, professional experience is evaluated based on the quality of the position and functions, rather than years of experience.
For example, the experience of Executive MBA students usually exceeds 10 years on average.
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To conclude this article on the reasons why it is important to complete MBA when you have acquired professional experience, it only remains to remember that studying MBA is:
A great way to delve deeper into skill development.
It allows you to promote professional growth and establish professional contacts.
Acquire valuable knowledge to face business and/or professional challenges.