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Posted by Chioma Isiadinso
I’m often asked questions by MBA applicants regarding career choices and what they should do to prepare for their application. These questions can run the gamut, from whether to remain at a job or take on a different position, so when is the optimal time to apply for their MBA.
I’m going to address a question that I hear often from applicants that can be a tricky one to navigate.
Should I work at a top name firm versus a lesser known firm?
Answering this question thoroughly will depend on many factors including what the profile of the candidate looks like to begin with.
If you are someone who doesn’t have much of a pedigree from your work experience or education, then choosing a name-brand firm could potentially give you an added boost that a no-name firm would not.
But that’s not always 100% true. It will depend on what you will be actually doing at each firm. If you will have the opportunity take on greater responsibility, even possibly managing someone such as an intern or junior employee, and if the project also has a potential for significant achievement at the end of your time there, then that could be the perfect opportunity for you. You will still need to take into consideration who the players are. For example, who will be writing your recommendations a few months from now after you have changed firms and will that person be an asset or liability to you.
Also, keep in mind that things do not always work out as planned. What do I mean?
Well, for starters, you can be given a lot of promises before you sign on the dotted line. But once you commit, you may find that you have been sold a dud and that your job is nothing like you were led to believe. Should you find yourself in that situation, you will be forced to make lemonade out of unpleasant lemons. So, anticipating your worse case scenario ahead of time, and having a back up plan for your MBA application, is the best way to prepare yourself.
The case for staying put
A strong case can be made for remaining in your current job too, even if the job isn’t one that the top B-Schools like to see. We have helped many MBA applicants get admitted to their school of choice even when they didn’t come from a blue-chip background. It comes down to the overall story and brand of your application. If you are a non-pedigreed candidate, you have to have a compelling story plus an excellent academic profile to back you up. Assuming the academic piece is solid, you need to give the adcom a clear reason why they should take you. This is where the impact and achievements at your firm can be critical. Your recommendation letters, especially from alumni of your target schools, can be instrumental in this process as well.
Before deciding on which path to take, you should do an analysis of the pros and cons of each option. Stay objective and bullet out the facts surrounding each role. Do your homework to make sure you fully understand what the realities would be with current job and the new job. Speak with trusted mentors who know the firms to get their input. And finally, trust yourself.
I know. It sounds quite trite, right. But it’s true. You are the one in the driver’s seat and you know yourself best. Life is bigger than B-School. Choose opportunities that will ultimately help you grow as a person and develop as a leader.
I wish you success with your decision. You can email us if you wish to connect with EXPARTUS to get started on your branding.