Everybody is interested in entrepreneurship now, and many applicants have tried their hand at something entrepreneurial in the past. That’s especially true since the entrepreneurship emphasis has filtered through society into colleges, and many younger applicants are now trying for bschool after having had school-sanctioned venture-ish experiences while earning their bachelor’s. Or, maybe a buddy had some kind of summertime business and you helped out, and he ended up dropping out of school to go do it full time. Or you’ve been selling sneakers on eBay on the side, to support your habit of buying sneakers on eBay.
Having this sort of continuity of experience is one of the best ways to make your future post-MBA goals in entrepreneurship “real” for the adcom. It’s one of the most effective ways to be convincing and credible in your pitch, since “entrepreneurship” is about as common a goal these days as consulting is, in terms of what applicants say in their essays.
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These are certainly case-by-case situations, so if you have questions, leave ’em in the comments on this post, or we go through these issues based on what’s presented in the Comprehensive Profile Review, so that may be something to check out.
Want to go deeper into this topic? We’ve got a strategy guide for pitching entrepreneurial MBA goals to the adcom, which covers common issues we see when someone has a post-MBA goal of starting a company.
Here's what others have said about this:
Hey EssaySnark! Nice to see somewhat relatable conundrum that I am facing right now. I had more than two entrepreneurial experiences but both were along with my full-time job. The thing is that they weren’t any extracurricular activities, but full-fledged businesses started from bottoms up to build something, but I couldn’t leave my job because my family was financially dependent on me. How do you suggest me to pitch these experiences to the adcom in my essays. Also, I had a revenue stream in one of my ventures and I even registered a company for the same, but they didn’t reach those levels where I could start paying taxes, so I don’t have all those balance sheets and stuff. But I do have all the customer/order data and the websites and stuff. In fact, I also pitched the startup at a funding event. In the end, I had to close the ventures for different reasons.
@niketg, it’s such an important question! In this case, it seems like your situation is different from what we were describing in this post, which was focusing on students who are starting some type of venture during college. It sounds like you did so in parallel with a full-time job — totally different situation! From the way you’ve described these experiences, we would suggest including them in the Work Experience part of your resume, and they don’t sound like extracurriculars the way we were characterizing things in the post. Even if you did not get them built up to the point where you could draw a salary, they still sound like they qualify as “real” companies.
You’ll need to help the adcom understand the fate of these ventures, which ideally will be done inline on the resume itself. Or, sometimes an optional essay is warranted in this situation. It depends on how dated they are, and how big they got before you shut them down (and also on what/how you would talk about the shut-down factors and decision). Or, in some cases, they might qualify for headline topics in essays – it all depends on the circumstances and what you can share about them! They seem like they are significant parts of your profile, so the challenge will be in presenting them in a balanced way — not hyping them up, but also not minimizing them. Starting with the way you capture them on the resume might be a good first step, and then you can examine whether or how they can also be featured in an essay (if the resume content alone tells the whole story, then there may not be justification to include in the essays as well – but it’s very much a case-by-case situation dependent on the details).