In the past, we have debunked the prevailing myth that MBA applicants must follow a specific “right” professional path to be accepted to business school. Now we want to dispel the similar myth that candidates must have a certain kind and level of life experience. For example, applicants often worry that they lack an appropriate amount of international experience, but having international experience is not a prerequisite for or guarantee of admission to a top program—and a dearth of such experience does not immediately disqualify you, either.
That admissions officers want a geographically and experientially diverse class is generally understood, and most MBA candidates these days have had some international exposure, either through personal travel or work. However, keep in mind that international exposure is not limited to physically leaving one’s home country. If you are dealing with suppliers abroad or running a weekly conference call with a team in another country—even if you are an American doing this from the United States or an Indian managing these tasks from India—you still have international experience.
However, even if you are an American working for a U.S. company with a product or service based in the United States and with strictly U.S. customers—as unlikely as that is these days—you are not applying at a disadvantage. If you have not had the personal resources or the professional opportunities to gain international experience, you can still become a business leader—the two are not mutually exclusive. So, like all candidates, you will need to explain to the MBA admissions committee how your degree will help you achieve your dreams. Gaining an international education and international exposure through your MBA may just be a crucial step in reaching your goals.