The Application Process Part 2: Work Experience, Recommendations, and Essays

The following blog post was written by Rebekah Lewin ’02 MBA, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid

Blog -- Steps to A Simon AdmissionWhen the Admissions Committee reviews your application, a significant component is the review of your personal and professional potential for an MBA or MS degree. This includes evaluation of your communication skills, demonstrated teamwork and leadership, co-curricular or community engagement, and future career plans. There are a variety of ways that we assess these characteristics, and I will discuss how a few areas of the application can impact your chances for admission.

Work Experience:

The Admissions Committee will consider both the quality and quantity of your prior and current work experience in relation to your future career goals and the degree you are targeting.

For MS candidates, we are expecting to see relevant internships or a short period of full-time work experience after your undergraduate degree. For example, if you are pursuing the MS Accountancy degree, we would expect you to have one or more internships in corporate or public accounting.

For MBA candidates, we are seeking several years of full-time work experience with demonstrated accomplishments and transferrable skills that will add value to your future post-MBA employer. Your experience does not need to be the same as your future career goals, but you will need to provide context for your motivation to change careers and share information on how an MBA will help you to achieve this goal.

During the application review, the Admissions Committee will assess your résumé, recommendations, and essays to rate the quality and amount of prior work experience and how relevant it is to your future goals. Your résumé provides an overview of what you have done and how well you did it – think of it as a combination of your job description and your performance evaluation. Your essays and recommendations can add a bit of detail with one or more examples that validate and substantiate your work experience to date. You will also want to address why you are pursuing the MBA or MS degree at this particular stage of your career.

Leadership, Teamwork, and Communication Skills:

Keep in mind that the Admissions Committee will also be trying to assess your “soft” skills during the application review. The essays, résumé, and recommendation letters all provide an opportunity for you to shine in these areas. Leadership and teamwork can be demonstrated in both work and non-work situations, and you will want to have several examples that you can share.

Make sure to carefully proofread your essays and keep within required word limits. You will want to answer the question(s) in a way that puts you in the best possible light, while also being yourself.

Simon Fit:

One of the other significant things that the Admissions Committee will be looking for in the essays, and possibly even the recommendations, is assessing “fit” for Simon. The “fit” factor is a culture and career fit – assessing how we think you will be involved as a student, how your career goals fit with the types of opportunities that are typically available post-MBA or post-MS, and balancing a desire to find candidates with characteristics that make you stand out from other candidates, while also expecting some similar qualities of drive, motivation, and commitment to personal and professional advancement.

If you are invited to interview (after submitting your application), then many of these skills and capabilities will be evaluated. The interview is a great opportunity for you to showcase additional examples of how you can contribute in these areas both during the MBA or MS program and with your employer after business school.

Recommendations:

This is an important opportunity for someone familiar with your work contributions to validate your potential to the Admissions Committee. Recommenders are often supervisors, but we also receive letters from clients, vendors, colleagues, or someone an applicant worked closely with on a project. We do prefer a professional recommendation over an academic one, but we understand this isn’t always possible.

Make sure you are giving your recommenders enough time to write a positive and detailed recommendation letter. I suggest that you schedule a meeting with each recommender ahead of time to share your goals for B-school, why you are applying to Simon, how our program fits with your career interests, and the deadlines for getting materials submitted. Hopefully, if you thoughtfully approach the process, your recommenders will have adequate context to help your application shine.

In the meantime, I encourage you to begin or continue working on your application. We look forward to reviewing it soon!

Interested in more advice? Tune in to our “Round 1 Application Tips” webinar Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 12 p.m EDT.

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