Career Switching: The MBA Dilemma

Applications from Indian students to the world’s top business schools have been one of the single largest growth areas in MBA demand over the last five years. The competition to secure your place in a business school is fierce, and will become mor…

Applications from Indian students to the world's top business schools have been one of the single largest growth areas in MBA demand over the last five years. The competition to secure your place in a business school is fierce, and will become more so in the next few years as demand begins to rise once again. How do you convince the admissions office about using your MBA degree to switch careers?

The challenge for any applicant is to stand out from their peer group, and demonstrate to the Admissions Office why he or she should be offered a precious place on the MBA program. For Indian students, who constitute one of the largest pools of international candidates, this is even more the case. The number of visitors to the World MBA Tour events in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai illustrates the demand. The great number that have backgrounds in engineering, IT and the service sector need to be keenly aware that there are many others like them with similar profiles, and despite impressive GMAT scores, they need to use the essay component of the business school application to stand out from the competition. It is not enough to describe the functional aspects of their professional responsibilities – they need to identify the established skills and potential abilities that are demonstrated through positions of responsibility they have held, projects (however small) they have managed, roles played within a team, and so on. From this the school can get a much better sense of the contribution the candidate could make in the MBA program, thus improving their chances of admission.The MBA, and in particular the two year program, is very often used by candidates to help them switch careers. As such there is nothing unusual about explaining your ambition to move from developing systems for a bank to developing your career in investment banking, or from a functional position to a more strategic managerial role. However this career evolution must make sense to the Admissions Office, based on your background and skill set. If you stated the desire to move into banking but showed little talent or interest for numbers the school might question your ability to make such a transition. Similarly moving from programming lines of code to devising national marketing campaigns for a soft drink manufacturer might seem a stretch to the business school, and they will need to better understand why this switch is coherent with the past and if your expectations from the MBA are realistic.

The Admissions Office wants to understand if you have really thought about going to business school, if it makes sense for you, and what you want to get out of an MBA. You should spend a lot of time on this essay in order to tell a compelling story. This is also where you can show your knowledge of the school and how well you think you will fit there. If you have met the school at the World MBA Tour, discussed what you liked from your time spent with the admissions officer and alumni, you can do a better job of explaining how you see yourself fitting in. You can also use the website, student2student, and similar resources to interact with the community and get a feel for its culture.

The interview should be where you bring your application to life – literally. It should be considered another piece of the overall package and the same attention and energy you applied to your essays should be given to the interview. Many of the tips for essays – be yourself, be interesting, think before you speak – should also apply to the interview.
On top of that, the standard decorum for any interview should be followed.

Many of the top schools select applicants to interview rather than allowing any applicant to request an interview. This approach recognises the large volume of applicants schools may face and a desire to provide a more fair process to all applicants. After evaluating the application, the Admissions Committee will invite selected candidates to an interview. The purpose at this point is to allow the applicant to present himself in the best possible light and to try to determine if the applicant seems to fit with the school's student body.

Selected applicants will have the opportunity to interview with a current student, alumni, or an Admissions Officer. Who interviews an applicant is more a function of timing and location than anything else.

Matt Symonds is co-founder of the QS World MBA Tour , and author of the bestselling book on applying to b-school, "Getting the MBA Admissions Edge". An experienced public speaker in more than 40 countries on TV, radio and at conferences and seminars public presentations, Matt is an authority on Graduate Executive Management Education.


On the point about career-changers...there is a substantial percentage of MBA grads attending 1 year programmes who manage a career change. Age does become a deterrent when it comes to certain industries (specifically I-banking) and most 1-year programmes attract more 'mature' candidates.
Of course, apart from the regular combination of networking, targetting relevant companies etc etc..luck plays a BIG role.

I have written two articles "The MBA Dilemma" and "The MBA Dilemma-II Ranking Analysis" on my webiste BOOKRUM in the category MBAness->Which MBA? Please read them, If you find them helpful I will consider my purpose served. Thanks.

The Direct links to these articles are;
The MBA Dilemma =
The MBA Dilemma II - Ranking Analysis = LIFE The MBA Dilemma II - Ranking Analysis

I finished my biotech ug this year2009. I did not join any job or any course. I was waiting to do CAT. But due to that technical problem by prometric i was not able to attend the exam. NOw i have got 94.88 percentile in mat. im gonna do XAT too. But i have very much lesser confidence on my would-be XAT performance. I hav not prepped so well.

Now what shall i do? Can i wait one more year to attend CAT and XAT. If yes what can i do in the mean time. I cant sit duck for two years.
Or else i shall apply with MAT marks? Im afrad i was not impressed much by MAT colleges, as they seem to be 2 tier or most of them are very much below standards.
Consider my ug in biotech along with this.

hi guys,
Got selected for MHRM iit kgp for HRM and IISC bangalore for business analytics. But confused between which one to choose based on better career opportunities in future. Please help me short out this problem.