Are you facing difficulty in finding a suitable profile with decent salary after graduating from a mediocre college? Do you want to double your current CTC? Are you stuck in your current job profile and finding it difficult to switch industries after reasonable experience in your current role/industry? MBA proves panacea for such career challenges. An MBA requires huge investment in terms of money, pre and post application preparation hence it poses a dilemma on when to actually go for it? We will look at some of the major takeaways from a full time MBA and let’s see who scores big on each – Fresh Graduates vs. Work Experience candidates?
1. Business Fundamentals Learn-ability
Understanding subjects like Finance, Accounting, Micro and Macroeconomics would not be much different for either category of students. But subjects like Marketing, HRM, Business Communication, Project Management could better comprehended by work experience students.
They are able to relate to most of the topics pertaining to these subjects. Premium B Schools’ pedagogy is largely case-based and work experience students are able to contribute significantly more than fresher students.
This is because 2-3 of experience in an organization gives you enough exposure to be a part of most of the salient aspects of a running organization. Also, almost all of the case studies are about well-established organizations and how they deal with it – and majority of work experience students have worked in medium to large corporations.
Score: Work Experience Students – 1:: Freshers – 0
2. Pay Packages
No matter how well your score during your MBA as a fresher, no exam can beat work experience. And almost all the companies visiting campuses of premium B Schools for placements recognize this.
There is always a cost associated for a company with hiring a fresher. He will take more time than a work experience student to get used to the culture of the organization, to learn professional etiquettes, to learn how to contact the right people for right inputs. A fresher will definitely take his time to learn how to learn while on the job. Hence this is compensated by the recruiters in the pay packages offered ti fresher students.
Score: Work Experience Students – 2:: Freshers – 0
3. Soft Skills
The innovative pedagogy followed by B schools is the actual worth of the huge sum students invest for a full time MBA. Case presentations to an audience, research papers, team projects, role playing exercises are some of the examples. For freshers, these activities gradually uncover the confident, bold, assertive professional that resides inside them. Since they have never worked in a professional environment – Team dynamics, leadership skills, negotiation skills are just words to them. And text books can just define them. However, fresher students need to experience them to imbibe them. A full time MBA from a decent B School gives them enough chances to understand and internalize these traits. Students with work experience (depending on the quality of experience) are already exposed to these skills and hence (as compared to fresh graduates) the learning for them is limited as far as soft skills is concerned. So the ROI as far as soft skills is concerned, is more for fresh graduates than work experience professionals.
Score: Work Experience Students – 2 :: Freshers – 1
Network – This is one of the most underrated and underutilized takeaways from MBA graduates. Consider a scenario – You have identified an alumnus who holds a senior management position in your dream company and you ask him to refer you to the recruiting team. Would he help? More often than not, yes! You always get emotionally connected to your Alma matter. Each and every one of your college mate would have his own sweet story about his college life and there will be one common thing in millions of these stories – Your College. Even if you have not shared the same classrooms, you have been there during different times but your alumni definitely find an emotional connect with you, good enough for extending professional favors. You network with thousands of smart, talented professionals and this network keeps growing. This is one of the greatest ROI from your MBA. However the ability to utilize this network is not limited by your work experience. Hence both category of MBA aspirants score the same on this aspect.
Score: Work Experience Students – 3 :: Freshers – 2
5. Career Progression
Most of the work experience students use their MBA as a tool to strategically break into the middle management role from their current entry level role. Some use it to break into the senior management role from their current middle management roles. To break the entry barrier to senior level roles where there is significant competition, especially in industries like Management and Business Consulting, an MBA becomes indispensable. It used as a competitive edge to make serious and significant career leaps, the returns of which are long term and justify the huge investment on the course
In contrast, fresh MBA students hardly get even middle management roles directly after their MBA. They get reasonably better pay packages than non MBA graduates but their work profiles are mostly entry level, though on the management side. Another trend is companies recruit MBA graduates without work experience under a common job title called ‘Management Trainee’. They might have clauses in their job offer to get promoted to middle management roles after 1-2 years in the trainee role. They have to prove their mettle on the battle ground for 1-2 years even after their MBA.
So as far career progression is concerned MBA aspirants with work experience again score better than fresh graduates.
Final Score: Work Experience Students – 4 :: Freshers – 2