Tips for MBA Applicants with Technical Backgrounds

Applicants with technical backgrounds need to remember that you aren’t applying for a job in your current function. Instead, show your leadership, teamwork, creativity, initiative, presentation skills, negotiation skills, international experience, etc.

By Masaki Sasaki, MBA Admissions Consultant

I’ve worked with scientists and engineers, and the initial drafts of their resumes and essays are full of technical jargon incomprehensible to business folks, let alone liberal arts folks (i.e., admissions officers). You may argue, as my past technical clients have: But this is what I do, and it is what it is!

Not so.

One engineer client of mine was surprised to find out herself that she had so much frontend experience, which came to her consciousness through our brainstorming sessions. In her application, instead of laundry-listing technical evaluations and applications of codes, we showcased her existing experience that directly tied into her post-MBA goal in management consulting as well as her long-term vision of starting her own company.

Her get-things-done attitude, which landed her a liaison role among executives and various departments to execute multimillion-dollar projects. Her affinity for people, combined with her technical knowledge, won support from clients and vendors in streamlining project costs. Her international perspective and multicultural experiences led to overseas office transfers, making her the youngest engineer in the history of the company to progress so quickly.

The goal is to prove to the schools that you are already halfway into the new function that you want to get into. Instead of making the common mistake of portraying herself as an engineer trying to break into business, my client made her case on how she ALREADY WAS a businesswoman pre-MBA. She was admitted to IMD and was invited to interview with LBS (which she pulled out of upon determining that IMD was a better fit for her).

Evidence of managing chops, emotional maturity, and insights that prove your business acumen are what matter. Think hard about what frontend experience you may have, instead of drowning in your backend experience.

When it comes to MBA applications, it’s better to LEAD people than to CODE software.

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