In the end, while the schools have a broad definition of leadership and teamwork experience (e.g. not strictly limited to the professional domain), successful applicants typically need to have some evidence of their impressive capacity in these areas.
4. What kinds of jobs or job functions are of little value?
I wouldn't say that there are specific jobs or job functions that are of little value because I've seen applicants find success from virtually every possible background. In other words, for most applicants, it's not really the job or job function—it's what they have been able to do with it.
Having said that, there are some positions that lend themselves to greater opportunity for leadership and accomplishment. For example, working in marketing and strategy at Starbucks' headquarters is likely to afford an applicant more opportunity for growth than taking a post as a cashier at the local Starbucks cafe. Similarly, working for the consulting firm that helps a major Fortune 500 company to conceptualize and set up a technical support call center in Bangalore, India, might offer more leadership opportunities than taking a post in said call center.
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5. How much does work experience tend to matter when compared to other aspects of the application?
The M.B.A. admissions process is truly a multi-variable equation where a number of factors come into play. On the surface, this 'equation' is comprised of academic qualifications, work experience, outside activities, and personal background. But each of those core areas can be divided into numerous sub-categories. For example, one's academic background consists of things like undergraduate GPA, GPA trend, caliber of undergraduate institution, quality/rigor of coursework, class ranking, GMAT results, experience with quantitative subjects, outside coursework/other degrees earned, TOEFL score (if required), etc., etc. …
Beyond that, across the core areas of the admissions equation candidates are constantly being measured in terms of their leadership capacity, emotional intelligence, and ability to work in teams.
In short, work experience is clearly an important piece, but I wouldn't necessarily give it more value than any of the other core areas. Of course, this is often candidate-specific as well, such that the candidate with six years of experience might be more heavily judged on their professional background than their academic profile—just as the younger applicant may be judged a bit more carefully around academic metrics since there may be less data to work with in the professional component.
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