Several Indian MBA applicants who work with us have dabbled in entrepreneurship in some form or another. Some do it on a full-time basis either because of inheritance (family business background) or because they were first generation entrepreneurs who decided to launch their own start-ups.
Interestingly though many have engineering degrees and work in software roles in the information technology industry, several of these start-ups are not in the technology space.
We’ve seen some wonderful variety of start-ups and entrepreneurial start-ups in fields covering education, hospitality, consulting, entertainment, social enterprise and yes, technology as well.
If you have been dabbling in part-time or full-time entrepreneurial pursuits, here are some ways in which you can position it in your MBA application.
If you have a day job in industries that are highly competitive (does ‘Indian Male IT Engineer’ ring a bell?), there’s a huge pressure to differentiate yourself from the herd of other applicants who might sound exactly the same when you consider their resumes.
Wearing multiple hats is a great way to show the Admissions committee (Adcom) that you have something interesting to talk about apart from your run-of-the-mill (from an adcom perspective) software job.
Unlike corporate jobs where the roles and responsibilities tend to be better defined and adhered to, an entrepreneur has to be good not only with the primary technical skills but also a range of non-technical aspects.
Give the Adcoms a unidimensional profile and a rich multi-dimensional application. Which one do you think gets special attention?
Startups expect their founders to know about the product (or service), where it fits into the broader economy, who will buy it and why, what problem is it solving, what competitors have been offering, what stops them from replicating the entrepreneur’s USP (unique selling proposition)?
Each of these questions requires a different perspective. It is unusual for those who’ve only worked in a rigid corporate environment to bring these perspectives to the table.
Unlike her other MBA classmates, an entrepreneur has already demonstrated her aptitude to take MBA related topics like marketing, operations, strategy, finance and experiment with them in a real world setting…albeit on a small scale.
So Adcoms don’t need to try too hard to see if the MBA applicant has the potential to do well across multiple areas.
Adapting within a startup environment is far more difficult than settling into a stable corporate job. In a big multinational, all the systems and processes are already in place. All you need to do is walk in find your little space in the big empire and focus only on what you were supposed to do.
Enterpreneurship allows very little of that stability. There’s very little that can be taken for granted. When startups and its employees can’t adapt, it can spell doom. This is the primary reason why most entrepreneurs give up.
Alright, so now you have the 5 basic areas where you can make a solid impact. Think about each of these independently and in conjunction…and what do you get?
The heart and soul of MBA essays – Lots of interesting stories!
That can also create a different set of issues and questions that you have to be careful to address in your essays. The challenge is to be careful in terms of what stories you choose and how do you weave them all into the bigger story that you are trying to tell the admission officer.
Have you tried your hand at entrepreneurship? What was it about and what did you learn from it?