How relevant is your pre-MBA work experience?

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It’s 9pm in Milan. I am at my house, studying for tomorrow’s exam on Organisational behaviour and negotiations.

I took the same course during my undergraduate degree; International Trade in Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. Yet the course feels very different this time round. I am reading a session about “power tactics” and “influencing”. I cannot help but try to associate these tactics with the tactics used by my previous managers. No wonder the course feels so very different. All I did in my undergraduate degree was to memorise and learn the tactics and terms in theory, now I am able to associate the written information with my past experience.

Although I had studied many of the courses I am taking in the MBA programme at SDA Bocconi before, it is a totally new experience for me because we spend less time trying to learn the terms and much more time on actually associating things we learn with our past experience or the cases that we study.

Some of my friends from my undergraduate degree started an MBA programme as soon as they graduated. Although pursuing an MBA programme without any prior, full time job experience might seem a little irrational, especially considering the input experienced people put in during the courses and case studies, my friends had legitimate reasons:

Competition in the Turkish labour market is quite intense. The majority of the population consists of young people aged between 18 and 30. Therefore not all of the qualified new graduates are able to get a job in reputable companies. In order to get ahead in the competition some people prefer to pursue their masters degree before having any full time work experience.

But, as you might guess, most reputable business schools around the world prefer to recruit students with prior work experience, since the aim of the MBA programme is not only to learn from the teachers, but also from your colleagues.

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, one of the reasons I chose to apply to SDA Bocconi was its multinational environment with people coming from 30+ different countries. In my opinion, sharing experiences with people with similar backgrounds to yourself and who have had similar experiences, will not develop you as much as a multinational environment.

In this particular MBA programme, I find that each day I am fascinated by the new things I learn from my colleagues and their past experiences.

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