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MBA Insider

Work Experience & Extracurricular Activities

Two areas that you know very well. Where you spend the majority of your time, and where you wish you could spend more time!

Here at Anderson we consider the start of your work experience beginning when you graduate from your undergraduate university/college, and are in a full-time, paid position. It is not so much the quantity of your work experience, but the quality. Non-traditional students may have work experience prior to the start of their undergraduate career, and we will note this on an individual basis. Do not forget that military experience is considered work experience, as you have grown largely in leadership, and decision-making.

Your work experience should be demonstrated in your essay, interview, and especially in your resume. The admissions staff is looking at your overall career trajectory, and the decisions you took along your career path. Promotions, title changes, and increased responsibilities will display your growth within an organization. Be detailed when discussing specific tasks that you completed. If you have led projects or supervised individuals, include the number of people, and duration of time. Discuss cross-functional experience, as this will show your increased business acumen, and understanding of additional functions of business.  

Your ability to work in teams, and your experience with this, will be noted as well. Do you give credit to your teams’ accomplishments in your interview, or are you constantly using the word “I”? Reflect on how you improved your skill set from the interactions with teammates. Conflicts and challenges in the work place can show your ability to brainstorm, and reach resolutions. For our entrepreneurial students, discuss situations dealing with clients or vendors.

If you have changed jobs, be sure to highlight new responsibilities and leadership opportunities-especially areas that have given you skills necessary for your post-MBA goals. You will be asked why you switched jobs, and how these experiences led you to your career goals. Your employment narrative, often known as “your story”, is unique to you, so make it original!

A common question on the road is, “Do extracurricular activities really matter?” Yes! Anderson has a culture rooted in involvement, where relationships flourish into friendships. It is important for the admissions staff to see that you value community involvement, and that you have other interests that give you work/life balance- and an engaging personality!  Hobbies and interests speak to who you are, and what you find important in life. This area can also predict your future involvement at Anderson, and your initiative to take a leadership role within the student organizations. Employers will be curious to see how you added value to the Anderson environment, and how you spent your time during these two-years. Take a look at our student organizations (which are split into identity, interest, and professional clubs), and reach out to our current students. Gather detailed information about the organizations’ events, and activities. This will make for great talking points during your interview.   

We do ask about your extracurricular activities during college, though it is important to see that you value involvement, and have continued to invest your time in the community, or within hobbies. It can be challenging to find free time in your daily life, especially when you are working full-time, and applying for an MBA program. If this is your case, start now! If you find yourself at work until late at night, see what committees or groups you can join within the office (this can include staff appreciation committees, and heading volunteer groups).

The admissions staff enjoys getting to know you, and learning how you spend your professional and free time! We may even get a few suggestions of new hobbies to take on- but perhaps I’ll pass on BASE jumping for now!

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