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So I'm looking at the class profile for UCLA, one of my top choices, and I see that less than half of the class comes from a Finance/Consulting/High-Tech background. But it seems like those three industries get a lot of airtime around here. So, any nontraditional applicants around here? Coming from health care? Nonprofit? Arts? Education? What's your story and why are you looking for an MBA? What schools do you think are best for nontraditional people?
Since I'm asking, I guess I'll start - I have an extensive background in music (actually was accepted to grad school in composition last year, but rethought it) and spent a year running a business as a private piano teacher. Now I work as a university admin for the creative writing department, coordinating admissions for the graduate program, working out scheduling for undergraduates, maintaining the website, and planning events. I'm hoping to go into arts management, probably in music - I want to do general management for a symphony, jazz festival, arts prep school, etc. Eventually, I'd like to start my own school or non-profit arts organization. Alternately, depending on the direction of the music industry, I'd consider working for or starting a record label. My top choices are probably Stanford and UCLA for their location, appropriate programs and curricula, and opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Aenigma, some thoughts: I've had the opportunity to work with individuals from IB/MC (top 3). These same remarkable people were actually more "impressed" by my work experience/accomplishments, something I truly came to appreciate. While these folks may have the title/brand name employer, they don't necessarily have REAL impactful positions...
I think when adcom members go over applications, they seek diversity in the classroom. In fact, my visit to HBS confirmed this. While I did see your typical McKinsey/GS student, I met a lot from "no-name" companies (Pharma, Family Business, etc.). Ironically enough, one guy had a very similar background to me (Westerner who worked extensively in China, spoke Mandarin...)
I may be completely off here, but I would hypothesize that most non-traditional applicants don't need an MBA in the same way than traditional applicants do. For example, your typical IB/MC requires the degree to move up the ranks (if he/she so chose to stay in the same industry) whereas many non-traditional applicants either require it for career swtiching (just an example). This is highly debatable - however, in industries such as retail, CPG, etc. the MBA won't make much of a difference (as opposed to experience).
Ultimately, the MBA won't guarantee anything (for a traditional or non-traditional applicant). I honestly believe that most of the applicants on this board would do just fine without the degree...
I'm a non-traditional applicant as well. I currently teach elementary school with the Teach for America program. I'm also non-traditional in that I will have only two years of work experience when I hope to start my MBA. I'm hoping that I'm not too non-traditional to get accepted at a top-15 business program.
Woo nontraditional! I'm working on a PhD in science/engineering now. I strike out on the bio factor (which b-schools seem to love) but I'm hoping to cash in on the alternative energy factor (my research area)
Non-tradi also... I was in the Peace Corps and now work for a non-profit doing international development. I'm going for social entrepreneurship and general management stuff - I'd like to start my own organization. Woot woot!