It is the B-School admission season again. The environment is ripe with with speculation about who will make the cut and who will not be boarding the train this year. The questions are many. Which school, specialization, location, fee among many others. One such question is, should I take the plunge this year as a fresher or should I gain some work experience first. When do I get the maximum bang for the buck out of a MBA program?
So, does it really matter about a candidate willing to enroll in an MBA course if he/she is a fresher or an experienced candidate? The answer is- It depends.
Experienced candidates are perceived to be better equipped with the knowledge of industry, corporate culture, the processes, organizational structure. So, it can be safely assumed that they are able to relate with the theories that are being taught in the classroom and can also contribute positively by suggesting that how a particular concept/theory can be used in a particular situation while being on the job with some appropriate modifications.
However, the thought process of an experienced student can be biased towards a particular industry. Experienced candidates will have a lot at stake which is precisely the reason behind their strong work habits and understandable lesser risk appetite culminating towards lack of fresh perspectives and creativity in their thought process.
In an MBA environment, one often feels like being bombarded with information (in the classroom and after the classroom). It is a bitter truth that many times one would not be able to apply a theory (which is taught in the classroom) in a business scenario. So, the crux is not every concept will be relevant for one while one will be on the job. Experienced candidates have a better visibility and priorities defined when it comes to this aspect. Thus, experienced candidates are expected to have a better visibility of what they want from an MBA program and how they are going to attain those objectives.
‘Freshers’ as the word suggests bring in lot of freshness, energy, creativity, enthusiasm and most importantly are very good at brainstorming activities because of their unbiased approach. As compared to an experienced candidate, a fresher will be under lesser pressure which will allow him to internalize a concept after analyzing it from angles which are 180 degrees apart. The risk taking appetite of a fresher will be very high because of their openness towards any given industry. This is where a fresher scores during internship interviews because at that point of time companies look for enthusiastic candidates who are hungry for learning new things. A fresher easily fits the bill and in most cases gets the PPO (pre-placement offer) from the organization.
As a matter of fact, many freshers get inclined towards entrepreneurship during their MBA because of their risk taking appetite and the desire to do something of their own. However, fresher generally suffers from devil may care attitude which hinders growth in situations where more objectivity and sincerity is required. Freshers are generally more stronger academically or other interpretation of this is that they have more ‘bookish’ knowledge than the practical/functional knowledge.
MBA is all about ‘peer learning’. Now a days, B-schools are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a balanced mix of freshers and experienced candidates in their intakes. The idea is to achieve synergy of a fresher’s open mindedness and an experienced candidate’s functional knowledge. This is precisely the reason behind inculcating a culture of ‘group assignment’ in most of the MBA programs. Every group will have a good mix of freshers and experienced candidates where group assignment is designed in such a way that both kind of candidates utilize their strengths and work on the weak points respectively via learning from each other. That is why there is a cliché that in an MBA program, the role of a teacher is of a mere facilitator. After all, an MBA is not only a way to learn how to be an accountant, a supply chain consultant, a marketer, an HR professional but instead a way to learn what one needs of these roles as MBA gives you an eagle’s eye view to lead an organizational or cross functional teams.
So, our analysis boils down to the level of comfort and the objective of an individual to which certain task has been assigned or self-assigned(MBA in this case). The viewpoints are highly subjective to the situation. So, from the point of view of a fresher, if one wants to specialize in a particular domain then obviously MBA will be a value additive investment if done with work experience. But the situation will change if the objective is of doing general management, then having prior work experience does not really matter.
Also, it is perceived that freshers are more prone to succumbing to the pressure which an MBA program exerts on them as they land into MBA straight after finishing their graduation which results in decrease in performance, hindered learning, inability to apply the concepts learned in real word scenarios and inability to cope up with deadlines. Talking about experienced candidates, they might be suffering from superiority complex and over-confidence which proves to be a serious roadblock for them. So, there are some dark sides on both banks of the river.
Thus to sum it up, a candidate enrolled in an MBA program is like driving a car at night where in you are not able to see further the range of the headlight but you can still make the complete trip utilizing your strengths and by working on your weak spots/cutting them down depending upon whether you are a fresher or an experienced candidate. In the end, we must not forget that the more the specialized the world will be, the more it will be run by genralists.
Contributed by Sthita Sahu