Friday, 20 March 2015

Is it okay to quit my job before I apply to Business School?

A few potential applicants have asked me whether it is okay to quit their job before applying to Business School. And of course the answer is that it ‘depends’ on why you are taking time off and what you plan to do in that time. Before taking time off examine your reasons for doing so, consider what you will do during your time off and think about how an admissions committee may view this break in your career.

In general, most of the reasons I hear are not good ones and may actually raise questions about your abilities. Let’s examine a few reasons and see why they may or may not be a good idea:

1. ‘I need to study for the GMAT’
I would not suggest taking time off to study for the GMAT, even if you have a high pressured job and are having difficulty finding time to study for the GMAT. Most people who are applying to business school are working in demanding jobs. Hence, if you quit your job to study for the GMAT, you may look like you are unable to handle pressure. Admissions committees will then wonder whether you can handle the intense environment that typifies most business schools. It’s much more advisable to give yourself (a) a longer period of time to study (b) try to see if you can take short breaks from work to study. For example take a week of vacation – combined with a weekend at either end it will give you a solid 10 days of focussed study time.

2. ‘I hate my job, and I plan to quit to go to Business School anyway – why not quit now’
In this instance it may seem compelling to quit your job; however it’s important to remember that getting into Business Schools requires you to demonstrate your unique skills and achievements in your application. So if you quit your job and start focusing full-time on your application, you will have fewer instances to showcase your skills and achievements at the workplace – for both your written application and your interview. It will of course raise the same questions as described above with regards to quitting your job to focus on the GMAT.

3. ‘ I want to change jobs, and now seems like a good time to do so’
If you are planning to change jobs then think about what new skills and responsibilities this new job will give you. For example, if your new job provides you with more leadership responsibilities, a greater breadth of experiences or more depth of experience then that in fact could be a very good reason to quit your job. It will be important for you to also assess whether or not this new job change seems logical in light of your goals and reasons for going to business school.

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