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Best Kind of Work Experience for MBA Admissions

purduefrankpurduefrank Posts: 485Registered User Member
edited January 2009 in Business School - MBA
I am starting to think about career choices after undergrad and my goal down the road is to get into a good MBA program. I am a Industrial Engineering major and I have a lot of interest in alternative energy, namely for automotive applications, however, I have interest in most alternative energy uses. I hope to one day build companies that will help solve the world’s energy problems. While it is nice to have this direction in life, it seems that at the current time, jobs right out of undergrad are hard to come by in this field. The industry is young, and disorganized. Most companies only focus on one specialty area while ignoring all the others, creating a greater risk of their technology becoming obsolete. Going to work for a larger company like GE or the like seems very narrow to me, with a lot of bureaucracy involved in such a large organization. Yet, I am slightly worried that working for a smaller company may not yield the experience needed for a top MBA program. Is this a legitimate worry? Should I consider the revenue of a company when making a career choice? The number of employees? The companies reputation? The amount of time they have been in business? A great number of companies in this industry are start-ups.

I know that MBA programs look for promotion and success in your experience, but how much does that matter if the company it comes from is a virtual unknown? How important is the status of those who write your letters of recommendation? What happens if the company I work for fails, or never grows as they anticipate?

What are the prospects of doing some kind of consulting in the energy field right out of school? In consulting, are their specific specialty areas for employees? Or is it more of a general “work the project that we give you”, type of thing?


I know this is long, sorry.
Thanks in advance
Post edited by purduefrank on

Replies to: Best Kind of Work Experience for MBA Admissions

  • OperaDadOperaDad Posts: 2,467Registered User Senior Member
    My 2 cents: I think working for a small company where you get a lot of responsibility, and a large variety of experiences would look awesome in an application. Much better than: I did copy for a Crest Toothpaste advertising campaign for 2 years.
  • VectorWegaVectorWega Posts: 1,872Registered User Senior Member
    I really like the idea of working for a startup specializing in this area. That shows that you are really focussed on this line of work. Schools aren't concerned with the status of those making recommendations. They want recommendations from people who know details of your work (ie they would prefer a manager who you worked for over a year, rather than a CFO who you worked with once in a while).

    Also, going to a small company may allow you to get a higher "position" while doing the same work. For example, you may move your way up to "Director" which sounds much better than "Analyst" or even "Sr Analyst." If you get laid off, that just means getting a new job and having more experiences to put on your resume.

    BTW, GE is supposed to have an excellent leadership program and some groups that do exciting work in the area you are talking about. However, I would still recommend working for a start-up. It would suck to go to GE and end up having to work in an area that you aren't interested in.

    As for consulting, I'm sure there are consulting companies that only do work in the energy sector. Also, the big consulting companies will do work in this area and you would just need to get into contact with a partner/mgr from that area to ensure that you do would be hired on to work in that industry (some consulting companies will work with you on this and others not so much).
  • JapherJapher Posts: 1,350Registered User Senior Member
    I have a BS in Chemical Engineering and am working towards my MBA in the evening, AND I work for a small consulting firm to the biofuel industry. Having worked for 10 years for large biotech companies I can attest for large vs. small, industry differences, and opportunities, as well as MBA admission preferences.

    You probably won't get a job at what I would consider to be a small company, ours is 4 people strong, because of lack of experience. However a mid-size company might take you on right out of school. IMO, this would be a good opportunity. Larger consultant companies should be avoided like the plague; they pigeon hole you and tie you down.

    At a smaller consultant company you will learn directly from people who were VPs and higher at larger companies. Entrepreneurs who understand risk and business development, who carry industry clout, know-how, and have been with the industry since it's infancy. Your personal development will be from business leaders, not managers or supervisors who know nothing other than what they are told.

    So, I doubt you will have to worry about the status of the person writing your letters of recommendation. If the company fails that is a good learning experience, everyone will be laid off, fired, or work for a company that goes bankrupt once or twice in their life (one might even be their own). I really do not think that the size or history of the company matter so much as your ability to work within it successfully.

    My advice; go for the smallest consultancy you can find ran by reputable principals preferably with teaching expereince. If you want to stay away from tech work than look at business development and M&A consultants who focus on the biofuels industry, they are out there.
  • purduefrankpurduefrank Posts: 485Registered User Member
    Japher

    Great advice. It is good to know that there are people out there doing similar things. If you have time, I would love to hear your thoughts on the state of the industry right now? Where things are heading? Do you see any more money coming into the field lately? How has the economy effected everything?

    What kind of salary does an inexperienced consultant make at a smaller company in the energy field?


    Thanks again
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