Formal managerial experience is not a prerequisite for admission to a top MBA program—a truth some applicants might find ironic. Keep in mind that an MBA education is for individuals who aspire to become managers and is not exclusive to those who already are managers. If you are fretting about the fact that you have not had any subordinates to date and believe that having overseen a staff is a prerequisite to gaining admission to a top program, you are adhering to a myth and can stop worrying. Instead, think about the ways you have excelled in your position and made the most of the leadership opportunities you have had.
For example, consider the numerous investment banking analysts who apply to MBA programs each year. Although analysts are at the bottom of the banks’ organizational charts and therefore do not have staffs to manage, they still have demanding jobs and must perform exceptionally well each day to succeed. Most analysts can tell the story of thriving in an ultracompetitive environment and thus reveal their professional excellence via their resumes, essays, and recommendations. And even if most analysts do not have staffs of their own, ample opportunities still exist for senior analysts to train and mentor newer analysts. So, even without a title and a staff, investment banking analysts can find ways to demonstrate their leadership and de facto management skills. And we imagine that with sufficient reflection and brainstorming, you can, too.