RSM: Pursuing an MBA with an alternative background

RSM: Pursuing an MBA with an alternative background


Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), is one of Europe’s leading business schools and offers a portfolio of top-ranking programmes.

Brandon Kirby, Director of MBA Marketing & Admissions at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, answers a question he hears often from MBA candidates: "Should I still do an MBA, even if I have a non-traditional background?"

Recently, I was at an event and a prospective candidate sat down, handed me their CV and immediately said, "I know I don’t have the traditional profile of an MBA candidate, but I am still interested in doing an MBA." Oh boy, where do we go from here...

Understanding your goals

When starting your research on MBA programmes, you might see profiles of candidates who bear little or no resemblance to you or your career type. Over time, and several profiles later, you might think of your experiences and start to wonder: Do I fit this mould? Is this really for me?

These are great questions and for you to be able to answer them, it’s important that you understand your goals. Choosing to do an MBA is a personal decision, and every candidate has a different reason for wanting to earn one.

But understanding why you want an MBA is the first, and perhaps most difficult question to answer. Where do you want to take your career? How would having a great understanding of business mechanics and leadership skills help your future career?

Dig deeper

Go beyond the first answer you can think of. Wanting a better understanding of how to conduct business is great, but there are other ways you can gain that knowledge - without ever having to set foot in a classroom.

For example, you might think of leaders you admire, famous or not, and examine what qualities draw you towards them. Are they great speakers? Visionaries? Do they have a way with people that motivates and encourages?

Examine your answers and then ask how an MBA programme can help you develop these skills. Furthermore, ask each school how their programme can specifically address your goals.

This is a great way to gain a better understanding of how each programme approaches developing you as an individual, plus it shows us that you’re thinking about how an MBA can make a difference in your career.

An MBA programme is an intense, fun, and stressful marathon, so it’s important that you have a good understanding of why you’ve chosen such a challenge. Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up for a difficult time.

It’s all about perspective

Through the admissions process, the team at Rotterdam School of Management has the benefit of meeting candidates from around the world.

From architects to artists and engineers to entrepreneurs, we have the pleasure and opportunity to speak with people from a wide range of industries and job functions. It’s one of the best parts of our job.

Whilst diverse, there is a common theme throughout this group of people: everyone is seeking to learn and improve themselves. This is an important fact that I share on the first day of class with our students.

From the very first moment they sit in the classroom together, they have something in common. That’s a powerful statement.

We have the benefit of seeing a class come together and it’s our desire to create the most diverse classroom experience possible. Diversity is what makes a classroom.


This is why many MBA programmes seek a balance of viewpoints and experiences - it’s better for shared learning. Rotterdam School of Management wants people who've had great experiences, both personal and professional, and who want to share them.

Our goal is to create a classroom environment with varied ideas, opinions and viewpoints. Whether you opened a restaurant or led a team of 10 project managers, your experiences are valuable when shared.

It’s more about who you are, not what you are 

So, how did I respond to the "non-traditional" candidate sitting in front of me at that event? I started a conversation to learn more about them.

I asked many of the questions I listed above. I wanted them to understand that while I was interested in what they did for a living, I also wanted to know about them as a person - their experiences in life. We went on to have a great and interesting conversation.

In my opinion, the traditional MBA candidate is someone who wants to learn, challenge themselves and improve. If that sounds familiar, then congratulations - you’re the traditional MBA candidate.

But, when considering going for your MBA, remember to develop a clear understanding of yourself and your post-graduation goals. Only then can you determine whether an MBA is right for you.

Best of luck in your MBA journey! ~ Brandon Kirby

Visit the RSM Open Day on June 17, 2017

If you wish to make an informed choice about your MBA, visit the RSM Open Day. RSM’s staff, students and alumni will gladly share their knowledge of MBA life on campus with you. Their team of experts is also on hand to review your CV.
› Date: Saturday, June 17, 2017
› Time: 10am - 2pm
› Location: Bayle (J) Building
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam, Netherlands

Sign up for the RSM open day

Contact information

Interested in more information or have questions about an MBA programme? Contact Brandon Kirby, Director of MBA Admissions and Marketing:
› RSM official website
› Tel: +31 (0)1 040 82 222
› Email: [email protected]
› Address: Burgemeester Oudlaan 50 - Bayle building, 3062 PA Rotterdam





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