Helpful for: MBA Applicants
Read Time: 6 minutes
- Volunteering can open your eyes to a different, more meaningful career you are passionate about. For Selene, it was the position of a community economic development volunteer in West Africa that taught her about the real impact of supply and demand. She explains:
Over the two years I spent in Benin I worked with local NGOs and entrepreneurs, assisting in business development, increasing financial literacy and improving technical skills. Though the projects varied, almost everything was tied to agriculture. It was in one that I saw the direct effect seasons and pricing had on people’s livelihoods. For five months I lived in Sirarou in the north of Benin, a community that produced cashews, yams, soy, corn and shea. In harvest season, producers made money but a glut of supply and lack of storage meant that the prices they fetched were low. As supplies dwindled, food prices would rocket and became unaffordable for the average family, taking a toll on nutrition.
- During placements like Selene’s, you are able to observe important business concepts put into practice. However, she shares that the lack of information and skills that were necessary to reach a larger market affected producers. Also, projects which relied on external funding were short-lived.
- As a volunteer, you are able to demonstrate your leadership skills which will strengthen your MBA application greatly. After realizing the issues the agricultural community was facing, Selene began exploring different business models and how they could be applied to contribute to social development. She teamed up with consultancy firm Dare to Innovate, which employed women to produce moringa powder, and trained young unemployed people to start beekeeping projects.
- Once you’ve gained valuable experience and feel confident with your skills, you can begin selecting MBA programs to apply to. Selene felt that the business models used at her placement were inspiring but small-scale, which led her to apply to ESADE. After taking the GMAT in Ghana, she stumbled upon a cocoa forest which spurred her interest in value chain. Her goal is to combine her experience in Africa with the knowledge gained from the MBA, and make a positive global impact.
- Know which values you treasure, and match yourself with a school which reflects them in their style of teaching and curriculum. Selene chose ESADE to study for an MBA because of their international approach and incorporation of innovation and social responsibility.
Good luck in your academic journey, and make sure you register on PrepAdviser to stay updated about the latest information on preparing and applying to international MBA and Master’s programs!
Source: The Economist