Michigan Ross MBA Student Interview

Anna Marie with children in Vietnam.

Anna Marie Cruz, pictured here with children in Vietnam.

Here’s a talk with Anna Marie Cruz, a graduate from Michigan Ross who is passionate about social justice and other global social problems. Thank you Anna Marie for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to college, when did you graduate, and what prior degrees do you hold?

Anna Marie: I’m originally from the Philippines. I moved to Southern California when I was 10, and attended California State University, Long Beach to pursue a degree in Sociology and explore my interest in human rights and social justice issues.

Accepted: How many years of work experience did you have before heading off to b-school? What helped you decide that an MBA would be the best next step?

Anna Marie: I supported myself financially during undergrad and worked 12 years prior to going back for my Master’s. Ultimately, I decided to get an MBA because I wanted to shift my career focus to integrate both my professional experience and my personal passion to address social problems, particularly at a global level. Up to that point I had worked in sales, marketing, and grassroots advocacy in multiple industries, and I wanted an MBA to round out my practical experience with a perspective grounded in fundamentals of business.

Accepted: Why did you choose Ross? Which other programs were you considering?

Anna Marie: Ross was suggested to me very early in the process because of their reputation and my mutual interest in social impact and marketing. I also applied to Cornell and Yale for their leadership in base-of-the-pyramid and/or CSR initiatives, as well as Kelley for their top-notch brand management program.

Accepted: What was your favorite thing about Ross? 

Anna Marie: This may sound generic, but my favorite aspect of Ross is the community. Initially, I worried that a class of 500 would not foster close friendships I could find in a smaller program, but in fact, Ann Arbor, Ross and its diverse student body creates the perfect environment to engage in dynamic interactions, stimulating discussions, and lasting memories. Additionally, Ross naturally attracts students who are doers and collaborators. When it came time to execute on a good idea, there were always classmates to turn to for support, including for constructive criticism when necessary.

Accepted: If you could change one thing about Ross, what would it be?

Anna Marie: During my last term, I participated in discussion series, a pilot program to facilitate reflection about the last 2 years. It was an incredible opportunity to connect with like-minded people and talk about topics such as the transition to post b-school life, lessons from the last two years, and new perspectives. I look forward to seeing this program implemented permanently and more formally in the curriculum. I also hope that something similar could be included in the summer between 1st and 2nd year.

Accepted: What have you done since receiving your MBA?

Anna Marie: I’m currently a Marketing Consultant for the International Labour Organization (UN agency) in a sector development project in Vietnam. I wanted to explore Emerging Markets, particularly at the intersection of business, society, and government. In this project, I have the opportunity to bring products to market and provide technical assistance to local government, as well as assist entrepreneurs with their small business.

Accepted: Do you have any MBA application tips you can share with our readers?

Anna Marie: Do not be distracted by the b-school application hype, and instead focus on your story. Whether through Accepted or people who know you well, get feedback on how well you’re conveying your authentic self.

Accepted: And last but not least…was it worth it — spending the time and money to get an MBA?

Anna Marie: While I cannot definitively answer in terms of return on investment, I have no regrets about getting an MBA. I sought to change careers and this degree has already opened doors to otherwise distant opportunities. More importantly, this has been an incredible personal journey. It’s not often we can put life “on hold” to pursue other interests and for this, I feel extremely privileged. There were certainly other ways to arrive at this same destination, but this was the right path for me.

For one-on-one guidance on the Ross application, please see our Michigan Ross Essay Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Ross see Linda’s Michigan Ross 2013 Essay Questions, Deadlines, and Tips.


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