These days, students are forced to work jobs for resume-building experience after graduating from college before they can be successful candidates at competitive business schools. This trend is unique to business schools, as none of the other professional fields such as law, medicine or engineering place such an emphasis on getting work experience before entering graduate school.

The William E. Simon School of Business Administration is trying to reverse that trend by focusing its Early Leaders program to target students zero to five years out of college. “Simon is aiming to attract the best and brightest prospective students with the right attitudes, values, and abilities,” Dean of the Simon School Mark Zupan said.

He believes that by reversing the shift that has occurred over the last 20 years away from attracting older MBA candidates, the Simon School will improve diversity among students, increase the size of the applicant pool, and attract and retain top faculty.

“Older students in full-time MBA programs have a harder time balancing work-life issues,” Zupan said. He believes that attracting younger students will make it easier for them to attend business school before they need to begin considering how they will balance full-time business school with family responsibilities and the cost of leaving a full-time job, thus increasing the applicant pool and improving diversity, especially among women.

Zupan believes Simon is ahead of the curve and that more schools will start accepting students right out of college rather than requiring work experience. “We hope we’re setting the trend and developing formal partnerships with undergraduate schools,” Zupan said.

Simon School students see the Early Leaders program as a fast track to better jobs.”The career that I want to pursue requires one to have an MBA,” Simon School student Vladimir Vanyukov said. Vanyukov finished his undergraduate work in Economics and Computer Science at UR in 2004 and entered the Early Leaders program through the 3-2 option. “Without the Early Leaders program I would have had to spend two to three years working at a job I didn’t like in order to get into business school, then spend two years at business school and only then be able to start doing what I want to do. By taking advantage of the Early Leaders program I can start my career now instead of five years later.”

Members of the business community who support the Simon School’s Early Leaders program argue the program is an advantage for employers as well. “A student straight from an undergraduate program is more likely to have sharper analytic skills,” Michael S. Rosen ’83S, CEO of Context Capital Management LLC said. “Also, as recent graduates achieve higher and higher levels of success in the working world, it becomes increasingly difficult to leave their career to

attend a graduate program.”

Simon School student Danielle Beyer recommends the program to undergrads who are serious about beginning a career right out of school.

“Partying during senior year was something I was very willing to give up in order to further my career,” Beyer said. Like Vanyukov, she also entered the Early Leader program from The College through the 3-2 option. “Looking back, it was the best decision I’ve made. In terms of advantages, the biggest one is that I don’t have to interrupt my career and give up a good salary to come back and get my MBA in the future.”

Bruml can be reached at

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