The Tuesday Q&A: Maximizing International Experience in an MBA Application

QUESTION:

I’ve heard you say that International experience is very important for International applicants. How can we best highlight that experience without making it appear like laundry a list? Any tips about how to (or whether to) highlight my international travel experiences where I’ve met people from different backgrounds, learned from their wisdom and learned to appreciate diversity?

ANSWER:

Yup, it’s true. International experience is very important on an MBA application for International applicants. Why? Because the adcom needs to see that you’re going to be OK here in the US for the next 1-2 years (or longer). They need to feel comfortable about you adapting to the culture of the school and working with the diverse student body.  And for that, you need to prove to them that you’ve interacted with people that are not like you, and experienced things outside of your hometown.

So you gotta maximize your international experience in your apps, whatever it may be.

Which brings us back to your question: how do we do that without it sounding like some list? And what should and should not be included?

Here’s a good place to start:

What is it you want to get out of this specific essay? What do you want THE ADCOM to get out of it? What are the top 3 or 4 things that you have accomplished that say “these make me diverse and unique, and relate directly to both my short- and long-term goals”?

Write out your list. Then decide WHICH of those 3 or 4 experiences applies to getting into b-school (meaning, which is going to be the most impressive, which is going to make the most sense for that specific school, and which is going to tie most closely to your goals). That will funnel things down. From there, you’ll choose the best experience and dig into THAT one in your essay.

The key here is this: focus on the few things that really make you stand out and not the laundry list. It’s quality over quantity, friends. Having 15 different (yet shallow) international experiences in your application is going to do nothing for you. But having one really great one that lends itself to your long-term goals and also gives the adcom what they want… that’s the golden ticket.

So sit down and give it some thought, narrow it down, and there’s your answer.

— Jon Frank

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