Dear Mentor:

How will my work experience help for admission to MS in IE?

I've done Mechanical Engineering (1999) from Mumbai. I'm Currently working in a multinational software firm with 2500+ employees in India. I have 1.5+ years of experience in software development (+ 2 months in Automobile Engineering). I am planning to do an MS in Industrial Engineering from a US University. I want to know the value of my experience. Will it be helpful? If yes, then how in terms of aid, job, good college etc.? Please suggest me how I can use my profile to get financial aid.

Role of Experience, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Dear Role of Experience:

Your work experience will not directly have a significant impact on the admission or financial aid decision. Work experience and performance have significant impact for pursuing an MBA program in the US, particularly from top-tier MBA schools, but such is not the case for an MS in Industrial Engineering.

The admission and financial aid decision will be based on your academic performance, your GRE (Graduate Record Exam, a standardized entrance exam) score, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement of purpose. Your work experience can play a role in the letters of recommendation because you can obtain these recommendations from your professional colleagues and superiors; this would not have been possible without the work experience. You should select an appropriate mix of "recommenders" from academia and work. You may wish to visit an earlier Dear Mentor: column to see how you can influence your recommendations: Advise me on preparing recommendation letters. Also in your personal statement - which you can attach to your application even if not explicitly required by the school - you can demonstrate your abilities and interests through both academic and work experience.

When looking for employment beyond graduation in the US, your work experience will be of some value, but not a great differentiator. You will have supposedly acquired new knowledge through further studies which you have not applied yet at work. Prospective employers would of course consider the work experience but their decision would be based on how well you do in the MS, your references and your performance on the job interview.

We strongly advise you to study very hard for the GRE. This score will have a lot to do with getting accepted, and can even influence your eligibility for assistanships in an Industrial Engineering department of a US university.

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