Jessica Burlingame is a senior consultant at The MBA Exchange. She has helped a wide range of applicants, particularly those with non-traditional backgrounds, to gain admission to top-tier business schools.
What do these people have in common?
• A top-rated chef and sommelier
• A featured actress in a major TV network pilot
• A fine-jewelry specialist at a top art auction house
• A fashionista sourcing for the world’s hottest brands and launching the Next Big Thing
If you answered, “I have no idea” – we understand.
If you answered, “They are all MBA Exchange clients with ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds who have been admitted to top-10 business schools” – you’re right!
Working with “non-traditional” applicants is one of our specialties – and our joys – at The MBA Exchange. While every successful applicant must tell an authentic and compelling story to win over the admissions committee, applicants with backgrounds like those above must often take extra steps to demonstrate their understanding of and preparation for b-school and their post-MBA careers. And these steps require two specific elements: thought and time.
Deep thought is required to answer the “why do you want an MBA?” question implicit in every application. This is especially true for applicants who wish to change career paths, as did all the clients mentioned above. (Let’s face it: b-school is great for many things, but improving your kitchen skills isn’t one of them!) Figuring out your what your desired path looks like, its relationship to your work to date, and how each particular b-school’s offerings can help you bridge the gap, is one of the toughest – and most worthwhile – projects you can undertake during your application process. Bonus: done right, the insight and skills you gain through this inquiry will serve you not only through the admissions process, but also through school itself, and the rest of your career.
Time is required to address the common gaps in a non-traditional applicant’s skill set and experience base. If your professional life hasn’t included formal leadership roles or much teamwork experience, for instance, what other avenues can you pursue – either at work or outside – to sharpen those skills? If your academic preparation was light on quantitative courses, how can you beef up that background to assure the adcom that you can succeed?
At The MBA Exchange, we are your thought partners through thick and thin. But especially for non-traditional applicants, it’s to your advantage to give yourself – and your consultant, should you decide to partner with one – the precious gift of time to think, strategize and act for success in the application process and beyond. The potential rewards can’t be overstated.
If you’re ready to begin exploring, we’re eager to begin the exploration with you. Start with a free, expert evaluation of your MBA candidacy. There’s no time like the present!