Will your start-up experience help with admission to a top global MBA programme?

Vibha Kagzi, CEO and Founder, ReachIvy

Many of the top global MBA programmes are trying to diversify their class profiles, moving away from solely admitting students with traditional finance, banking and consulting backgrounds. Professional profiles that have start-up experience give admissions committees significant insight into the problems that you are truly passionate about solving, your creativity and penchant for risk-taking, and your gravitas in tough, real-life situations.The conversation around how beneficial startup experience is for admission to a top MBA programme has gained significant traction in public debate.

Here are a few parameters to keep in mind while trying to choose whether the start-up route is best for you, and how to position the experience in your business school application.

1. What is your growth trajectory within your current role and organization?

 If you are in a large company where there is little room for upward growth, and even lateral shifts are not on the horizon, taking a risk and switching to a leadership position in a startup is probably a good idea. You are likely to have a young, diverse set of co-workers, and will be operating in much more collaborative and leaner working conditions. The environment is fast-paced and high-pressure, but promises a steeper learning curve and there is a chance for greater reward.

2. What is your impact?

Admissions committees want to know about how you have contributed to the organization, and how it has impacted the organization as well as your personal and professional growth. They gauge your management and leadership skills through the impact of your contributions. They gauge your management and leadership potential through your ability to articulate your decision-making processes, as well as learnings from your successes and failures.

3. Does your startup experience align with your career goals?

Startup experience for the sake of getting startup experience will not help with admission. You need to be able to clearly articulate how this experience influences your career goals and what you want to get out of the MBA. You should also be able to articulate how you will leverage this experience in and outside class, whether it is towards case discussions or through mentoring at the campus entrepreneurship lab. To build the best story arc, start thinking about your short- and long-term career goals at least two years before you think of applying to business school.

4. Does startup experience help even if your startup fails?

Even a failed startup experience can be a strength, as long as you can show how you learned from it. You must be able to articulate your maturity and heightened perspective gained through learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. B-schools realise that regardless of whether the startups failed or survived, the candidates are rich in experience, knowledge and bring tremendous learnings to their classroom.

For further information, refer to the ReachIvy official website