: I have been a startup guy for some time now and that might have its influence on my views. However, I am trying to contain the bias as much as I can.
This is one of the more common dilemmas for people who plan to apply to B schools 2-3 years down the line. And to be fair the answer is not straight. Anyways, lets have some perspective.
Brands sell. That’s true, people get benefits of the brands (large corporations) on their CVs. Irrespective of the kind of experience that one might have had working for those big companies, the value of the brands, per say, help candidates get into top B-Schools and also land a good job offer after they graduate. However, that is only one part of the story. Here is the rest.
Over the years, startups have come to be respected a lot. And we are not even getting started to count on successful startups. Just the fact that you have the nerve and initiative to take a path less travelled is appreciated. Culturally, it used to be more of an American thing but over time schools across the globe have started appreciating candidates who dared to start on their own or are part of the founding team. At times, it is assumed that you had a superior experience and hence grew a lot more professionally. We know that is not always the case, but then that’s how perceptions work.
However we have still not answered the original question. So, here is the way you should think to arrive at an answer.
What exactly is the type of company that you want to target post your MBA? If you are looking at more entrepreneurial companies such as Google, Amazon or Apple then a startup experience is the way for you. I have personally known people with startup experience landing with great profiles at the above mentioned companies. However, if your taste is for say consulting companies like McKinsey or BCG, go for the brand. These companies generally appreciate brands more and you will get a value for the same.
The other point to consider is that not every brand is equal. What kind of a Brand (Company) are you talking about? Is it the top-of-the-line brand or one of the mid-market bands? Please understand that business schools get tons of applications from people with brands. Most of these people have a mid-market brand – a brand respected in the industry but not very exclusive. What advantage will you draw by adding yourself to that list? After all business school applications are all about standing out of the crowd. I hope this article helps you make the decision. All the best!PS: Ideally, you should not go for a startup only to get into a good Business School. That would be a wrong reason. You should go for it if you believe in the idea / team and to grow professional (& personally). B-school may or may not happen. But if it does, you can be assured that they will appreciate your experience.
MBA Admissions Consultant
Entrepreneur & Educationist
Alumni, Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad (GMAT: 760)
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