Accepted.com is continuing a blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Here’s a talk with a student who traveled from San Francisco to Durham – across the U.S. – to attend one of the country’s best MBA programs, Duke Fuqua. (And from there she’s looking to travel and work overseas, as you’ll see.) Thank you Erica Gellerman for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? What did you study as an undergraduate and when did you graduate?
Erica: I am from San Francisco, CA. I did my undergrad at UC Santa Barbara and studied Business Economics with an emphasis in Accounting.
Accepted: Why did you decide to attend Fuqua? Is the program meeting your expectations?
Erica: I was first interested in Fuqua because of its strength in marketing. I am a career switcher so it was very important for me to go to a school that was strong in marketing and would have great opportunities for recruiting. Once I visited the school I was so impressed by the culture that it became my first choice. Students are incredibly passionate about the school and everyone is so friendly and helpful. The program is exceeding my expectations. I have met amazing friends and I am continually impressed by my classmates. I have had more opportunities to develop myself and my skills here than I had expected and I couldn’t imagine having a better MBA experience.
Accepted: What are some of your favorite things about living in Durham? Least favorite?
Erica: Durham is a low key culture providing ample activities while still making Duke and Fuqua the nucleus of student life. I wanted to find a school where students were really invested in the program and didn’t leave every weekend. Being in Durham gives us an opportunity to enjoy fun social outings (such as the Durham Bulls Games and going to great restaurants) without having so much going on that we are not staying connected to school and our classmates.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
Erica: Emerging market strategy. The professor was amazing and the cases were extremely interesting.
Accepted: Duke perceives and markets itself as a global business school. How does being part of a global business school affect the students in Durham?
Erica: In addition to having some coursework focused on global business, we have a number of activities that we can participate in to enhance our global education: GATE trips, global consulting projects, and study abroad programs. Almost all students participate in at least one of these activities – I am spending 6 weeks abroad in Argentina this spring. Additionally, we have a large percentage of international students who bring very interesting and educational global insights to our classroom discussions. It has been a great experience to meet and become friends with people from all over the world!
Accepted: Has Fuqua’s global element influenced your post-MBA goals?
Erica: I have always been interested in working abroad but after coming to business school I am actively looking at full-time opportunities which would enable me to work outside the U.S.
Accepted: In terms of job search/recruitment, what is the best thing Duke has done?
Erica: The Career Management Center (CMC) has helped me considerably during my job search. They bring in great companies to recruit on campus and provide us with ample opportunities to connect with recruiters during corporate presentations and networking nights. I found both my internship and full-time offer through campus recruiting. The CMC staff has also been extremely helpful in talking through different career paths and helping me find what fits my skills and interests best. Their input and guidance has been key during the recruiting process. Aside from the CMC, the clubs have done an amazing job with proving education series events to help me learn more about different companies and industries as well as providing thorough interview prep. Between the CMC and the marketing club, I felt very supported in my internship and full-time search.
Accepted: Can you recommend any cozy places to study, drink coffee, and shmooze near campus?
Erica: There are a number of places that students can go, but my top two picks are Mad Hatters and Parker & Otis (which has the best iced coffee in Durham).
Accepted: Do you have any MBA admissions tips to offer our Duke Fuqua applicants?
Erica: Spend time on self reflection before writing your essays. Well thought out essays are critical for your application and it’s the best time to think about what you have done so far and what you hope to get out of your MBA. Once you get to school you won’t have that opportunity to do that reflection again because there are so many other activities.
Reflection IS important before applying to b-school. Would you like guidance so that introspection doesn’t become useless naval gazing? Download our free special report, Why MBA? to give direction to your MBA plans and goals essay.