HOW MUCH WORK-EX IS DESIRABLE TO HAVE BEFORE PROCEEDING TO AN MBA EDUCATION?
HOW MUCH WORK-EX DO VARIOUS BUSINESS SCHOOLS REQUIRE ME TO HAVE BEFORE APPLYING?
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR ZERO WORK-EX FRESH GRADS, TO GET AN MBA EDUCATION?
As far as the first question above is concerned, the Jury, as they say is still out on this one, basically because there is no single ‘one size fits all’ answer to it. Perhaps the only one answer that can correctly address this question is “Apply when you feel you are ready for it”. But does that help? Or does it only lead to another, equally puzzling question “How will I know when I am ready?” The only one thing that seems to be clear is that the correct time to apply is different for different people. Some might be ready early in their careers whereas others might be better off waiting a few years more. But what exactly is the way to determine the correct time for any one individual? Well, as I said, the jury is still out on that one.
So, let us get another opinion on it. Business Schools, who actually teach the MBA curriculum are surely the best ones to advise on this. So what do they say? Unfortunately, here again we do not find the consensus which might lead us to the right answer.
Take for example the IIMs in India. They have from the beginning been open to taking early career students for their flagship PGDM programs. The majority of students at the IIMs continue to be fresh Graduates and most others are in the 1 to 3 years category. And the 5+ yrs workex students at the IIMs are still only a small minority. And are the IIM graduates as good at managing businesses as their counterparts from US Business Schools where the avg workex tends to be 4+ yrs and where it is the fresh grads who are the small minority? Well, looking at the track record of IIM grads over the decades, it would certainly seem so. Graduates of these institutions have done as well as those from any other institution, whether they pursued their careers in India or abroad.
On the other hand, most Business Schools in the US for example, do seem to prefer students with more workex. Even though many of them state as a policy that workex is only desirable not necessary, the class composition at most schools tells the real story because very few students at these schools are fresh from college and the average workex is 4+ years.
Coming to the last two questions of the topic for this post – How much workex do Business Schools require me to have before applying, and what are the options if any for fresh grads – you know already that IIM’s in India have no requirement for workex, though they too do give some weight to workex in their selection process, ISB in India asks for 2+ years and most business schools in the US also prefer at least 2 years, even if they do not always say so.
So what are the options for fresh grads? I wrote already in an earlier post on this blog, about MIM programs offered by an increasing number of Business Schools in the US. But what if one wants to join a regular MBA program? Well there is now an increasingly visible trend even among US business schools that some of them, including some top schools, are encouraging fresh grads to seek admission directly out of college. Notable examples are:
· Harvard: The HBS 2+2 program – you apply while still in the final year of your UG program, get admission and defer enrolment for 2 years, acquire workex during these two years with an assured seat at their regular MBA program after two years.
· Stanford: Deferred admission program - Here again you get admission while still in college, defer enrolment by 2-3 years and use this period to gain workex, with a reserved seat at the regular Stanford MBA program.
· Yale School of Management: Silver Scholar Program – This is a total 3 year MBA program where you join the regular Yale MBA class directly after college, complete the first year of the MBA curriculum and then take a one year break from studies to take up a full one year internship before heading back to Yale to complete the remaining one year of their regular 2 year MBA program.
· MIT Sloan: Sloan simply encourages college seniors to apply directly to their regular MBA program itself, without any workex. As an incentive, they even waive the application fees for these applicants. About 20% of the Sloan MBA class is composed of students without workex so that tells you they are serious about it.
· ISB: YLP and Early Entry options – Our indigenous ISB has not one but two options for students with less than 2 years workex. The Young Leaders Program (YLP) requires you to apply while still in the pre-final year at college whereas the Early Entry Option is for graduates with less than two years workex. And both options allow for deferred enrolment.
Likewise there are many other business schools in US that offer either deferred enrolment option or accept significant accept significant proportion of the MBA class without workex. While it may not be clear yet, whether these Business Schools are in fact veering towards younger students, maybe they are only experimenting with the idea for some time to determine what works well, the point is that options are available at US Business Schools even for fresh graduates.