It’s a very common question to come across, as to “whether work experience is required for an MS application?” Well, to begin with work-ex is generally not a requirement for MS applications. There are very few and very specific courses that may suggest a prior work-ex, but it’s NOT a mandate.
Said that, it’s imperative to understand the importance of having prior work-experience. Your work-ex is an added qualification to your profile. It can be of great value, if used correctly.
Relevant experience that aligns with your prospective course at a reputed company can matter A LOT.
It gives you an opportunity to describe your real-time projects well and shows your grip on the courses you are about to take
Irrelevant experience hardly matters – though, it depends how you shape your story around it
Understanding relevant work experience:
It is important that the prior work-ex you have should align with your prospective course. For an instance – If one is applying for MS in Computer Science, then work-ex as a Paleontologist won’t work. The work-ex would only count, if the applicant has experience in coding, data analysis, web-services, etc. This gives reassurance to the admission committee as the applicant already has some industrial experience. Another important question is How many years would be best suited? Frankly, there is no direct answer to this. Though, a safe zone to play would be anywhere between 1-3 years.
Advantages of industrial exposure:
It’s no secret that having industrial exposure would help in your area of specialization. It not only enhances your ability to solve problems but also elevates time-management skills. Also, not being a fresh college graduate would help you to be much more aware about the different roles and their responsibilities.
Impact on your profile:
A decent and relevant work-ex can overshadow a below-average performance during undergrads. Talking about specific projects and your roles and responsibilities, gives a lot of idea on how deep is your understanding with your area of specialization. You can talk about specific Situations and what your Task was around it, what was the Action that you took and what were the Results.
Hence, to conclude, work-ex might not be a “requirement”, but it’s a “good-to-have” for sure. Relevant experience can matter a lot and will add an edge to your profile. As we all know, “Experience counts”.