This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now, introducing Enrique Toubes:
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent pre-MBA job?
Enrique: I was born in the South of Spain, in small city by the coast called San Fernando. I studied Computer Science in Madrid, after studying High School in Maryland.
Right before starting my MBA I was working at a software company in Austria as a Project Manager.
As you can see, I like to move around the world!
Accepted: Why did you choose to pursue your MBA at Duke? How are you the right “fit” for that program?
Enrique: I chose Fuqua for several reasons: its culture, its location, and its support to international students.
Fuqua’s emphasis on team work is a perfect fit for such an outgoing person as myself. I enjoy working in teams and wanted to be in a collaborative environment.
While applying to business schools, I reached out to several Duke students to learn about their experiences and get a better idea of what kind of people go to Fuqua. I felt a great connection with each and every one of the students I met. I knew that I wanted to be around such people.
Fuqua is located in a small city in North Carolina: Durham. Durham is really affordable, compared to other cities with top MBA programs. I live really close to campus at a brand-new, spacious apartment. There are no traffic jams in Durham! People are extremely nice and, being a small city, I can interact much more with my classmates and other Duke students. Durham is also well known for its food; there are great restaurants in the area from all sorts of cuisines.
Finally, Fuqua is very international. Around 40% of the class are internationals. There are all sorts of activities to help our community get to know and understand other cultures. Each Friday we celebrate what we call Fuqua Friday: first and second years, families, and faculty get together to eat and drink. Each Fuqua Friday is organized by a different club. For instance, one of the Fuqua Fridays was organized by LASA [Latin American Student Association] and they brought Mariachis to play in the school. Another fact that shows how supportive is Fuqua towards internationals is its financial aid program.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
Enrique: Is difficult to say, as I am enjoying most of them! Fuqua has a set of core classes and allows us to choose electives in January of our first year. I’m finding extremely useful all the classes that relate to finance and accounting, as I come from a technical background. The concepts that we are learning are key for every MBA.
Accepted: Is there anything you wish you’d known going into b-school that you can share with incoming first year students and applicants?
Enrique: I did a lot of research and talked with many people before coming to business school, so I had a clear picture of where I was getting into. I would encourage to incoming students not to stress about recruiting and networking, and always be yourself. Companies want smart people, but also some that are fun to work with.
Accepted: What do you plan on doing once you receive your MBA? Do you plan on staying in the States or returning to Spain — or heading off to some new, exotic destination?
Enrique: One of the best things about an MBA is that it allows you to face an ever more global economy. With Duke’s MBA, I could go work almost anywhere I wanted. I have always chosen where to work or study based on the culture and the people I met in each place. When considering what to do after the MBA, I will follow a similar approach: analyze each option and understand how my family and I fit in. That option might be here in the States, Spain, or elsewhere.
Accepted: As someone who successfully applied to a top business school, you must have some good advice for our readers! Can you share your top three tips on b-school admissions?
Enrique: About essays, try to be unique and show personality. Read your stories and ask yourself “how are these essays different from the rest of the applicants?” Regarding the interviews, be yourself and smile, don’t be a robot who memorized all the stories. And finally, about the GMAT, remember that is just one more part of your application. Don’t bring yourself down in case you don’t get a 750 and keep being positive!
Accepted: Can you recommend a nice coffee shop on or near campus that’s good for studying or hanging out with friends?
Enrique: Personally, I believe the best place is Fuqua’s Fox Center! You’ll get the chance to meet many different people, hang out with your section and teammates, enjoy a Starbucks coffee, study, do cases with other students, play ping pong, and many other things. The Fox Center is the heart of Fuqua.
If you really feel like leaving campus, there are several places to hang around with other students or family next to Fuqua. I rather have a beer than a coffee, so I would recommend Six Plates, a quiet place where you can enjoy an Estrella Galicia, an awesome Spanish beer!
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Enrique: I started reachingthethirties.wordpress.com when began applying to business school. I wanted to practice writing English, as well as to share everything I was learning about business schools and the recruiting process. I also have a lot of friends and family scattered around the world, so it also was a great way of keeping all of them updated about my progress. Once I got accepted to Fuqua, my mission was to tell the world about this awesome place and the great MBA program that we have. Fuqua is a very young school and is not well known in some parts of the world, such as in Spain. It is my goal to spread the word about Fuqua.
A lot of people have reached out to me through my blog, asking questions about the recruiting process or Fuqua. It is great to be able to help them, and even more when you hear back from them telling you that they reached their goals.
You can read more about Enrique’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Reaching the Thirties. Thank you Enrique for sharing your story with us!
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Fuqua see:
“My mom is a doctor, my dad is a doctor. How can I prove to the med school admissions committees that I really want to be a doctor?”
The College Board announced this week that it would be taking measures to restructure the SAT so that it becomes more connected to high school work. Here are some highlights outlined in the New York Times article on the subject:
According to College Board president David Coleman, the exam should reinforce the skills that students are learning and using in high school, and shouldn’t simply be used to test test-taking tricks.
Many observers view these changes as steps that will make the SAT more like its competitor, the ACT, which has gained market share in recent years.
If you have been rejected from an Executive MBA program, it often comes down to one of three reasons (or combination thereof):
1) Your academic record was not strong enough to convince the admissions committee you could handle the rigor of an EMBA program,
2) Your work experience was not sufficient/relevant enough yet to be considered a solid addition to the program, or,
3) You did not show adequate interest in the program to warrant an offer of admission.
All of these reasons can be mitigated, with time or effort on your part. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee of admission, but by taking a hard look and assessing your situation, you can make yourself a much stronger candidate by addressing the pertinent issues.
A low GPA in and of itself is not a reason to ding an applicant. What tends to concern schools is when a transcript shows consistently low grades in subjects that are important to have competence in to do well in an MBA program – quantitative subjects in particular. If you do have quantitative weakness, enroll in an Algebra or Statistics course (or both) at a local college – a “real” class as opposed to online would be preferred. Get strong grades, and submit that transcript with your new application. In the optional essay, express how you recognize the admissions committee might have been concerned about your quantitative abilities, but the new grades should allay any concerns. Also lay out any additional plans you may have prior to joining the program to bolster your skills – MBA Math, for example.
In this situation, time and more leadership experience are probably the two best ways to enhance your application. The average years of work experience in an EMBA program is typically 10-15. Some schools specifically state the minimum years of experience necessary to apply. While I was at Cornell, we never seriously considered anyone with less than five years of experience, and when we did admit someone on that lower end of the scale, there was a clear indication the individual was a superstar at his or her organization. So, if you are in the lower range of experience, seek out more high-profile leadership opportunities, and work on putting together that “superstar” profile.
Admissions committees realize most applicants consider multiple options, as they should, and most have a clear first choice school. What tends to bother admissions folks is when it’s obvious an applicant is only applying to a school because it’s a brand name and would be an “ok” fallback.
How can they tell an applicant’s lack of interest? It’s pretty easy – never came to an information session, never visited the campus, never reached out to anyone on the admissions committee, and/or put reasons like “location” and “reputation” in their essay as to why he/she would like to come to the school. With EMBA classes quite small compared to fulltime programs, it is a distinct possibility an applicant with stellar qualifications could be dinged – why offer a spot to someone who clearly has no real interest in attending? If you feel this might be why you were rejected, this reason can be mitigated or eliminated as well. Reach out to admissions committee members and ask questions that show you’ve both done your homework and are thinking seriously about their school. Start sending signals indicating your sincere interest.
Not sure where your application might be lacking? The good news about most Executive MBA programs is that with smaller applicant pools, admissions officers typically have more time to devote to individual applicants. Therefore, make a call and see if you can receive feedback on your application.
Furthermore we here at Accepted are always available to provide a critical analysis of your EMBA application and help you develop a game plan for the future.
Jen Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted.com. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.
Listen to the recording of our conversation with Pejay Belland, Director of Marketing, Admissions & Financial Aid at INSEAD, for great insights into the program and tips that applicants to any MBA program should know.
00:01:42 – Singapore, Fontainebleau, and the USA in 10 months?
00:03:25 – Does the exchange program come at the expense of community?
00:05:04 – Why INSEAD likes consultants and consultants like INSEAD.
00:07:33 – Entrepreneurship at INSEAD (50% of grads start their own company at some time in their career!).
00:09:52 – Changes to the INSEAD application: Really getting to know candidates as people.
00:16:25 – The new dean and his initiatives.
00:18:51 – The video essay: in the cards.
00:20:38 – INSEAD’s admissions process and what it means for applicants.
00:24:32 – Can you demonstrate “international outlook” if you’ve never left your home country?
00:25:42 – What Pejay wishes she could tell all applicants.
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