UPenn JD/MBA Interview with Craig Carter

Craig CarterHere’s a talk with Craig Carter, JD/MBA candidate at UPenn’s Law School and Wharton Business School, who plans on using his dual degree to create change in the public education system. Thank you Craig 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 please tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? 

Craig: I was born in Brooklyn, NY, but I grew up in Baltimore, MD. I studied Industrial Engineering at Northwestern University.

Accepted: Penn’s combined JD/MBA degree program is a three-year program. Can you break it down for us? When do you do what? 

Craig: Sure, the University of Pennsylvania has developed the premier accelerated JD/MBA program, providing a comprehensive education from two leading schools: Penn Law School and the Wharton School.

In your first year, you go through the complete first-year law curriculum. During the summer between year one and year two, you have a mini-semester of law school, inclusive of three classes, and a mini-semester of business school, inclusive of two classes. In year two, you go through the complete first-year business school curriculum and take one additional law school class each semester. The second summer is reserved for an internship. In the third year, JD/MBA students split the year between the law and business schools. Typically, students take three classes at Wharton and two classes at the Law School first semester, then do the reverse second semester.

Accepted: So how’s the law school component going so far? Is it as you had imagined it? Any surprises?

Craig: Law school is going surprisingly well! I expected to not enjoy it and just survive until the business school component of the program. However, the material is very interesting, the challenge is exciting, and the people are wonderful! I was surprised by the level of collegiality and cooperation among the students. Penn Law is known to be the most collegial Law School of the top tier institutions, but that reputation is an understatement. As a Penn Law student, you do not feel the high-level of competition that you experience at other institutions. Instead, you are overwhelmed by the family atmosphere that pervades the students, staff, and faculty.

Accepted: What past experiences (work or otherwise) have you had that motivated you go head back to school and pursue this rigorous dual degree?

Craig: Prior to returning to school, I worked two years as a management consultant for Oliver Wyman, and then served for three years as Chief Financial Officer for Urban Prep Academies, a non-profit that operates three Charter Schools for Boys in Chicago.

My experience at Oliver Wyman helped develop my business acumen and desire to hone my “CEO’s toolkit” through a comprehensive management education. My experience at Urban Prep helped give me a profound understanding of the structural inequities in public education. My passion for education and the African American community has led me to obtain legal training in hopes of leading our country’s overhaul of urban education.

Accepted: What do you plan on doing once you receive your JD and MBA?

Craig: In the short-term, I would like to pursue a career in Investment Banking or Private Equity. Long-term, my desire is to leverage the resources, relationships, and experiences acquired at Penn and during a successful professional career to become a public servant who leads legislative initiatives to structurally change public education.

Accepted: Did you consider any other programs? Which ones? 

Craig: I considered the accelerated programs at Northwestern and Yale, and the four-year programs at Harvard and Stanford.

Accepted: Why was Wharton’s program the best place for you?

Craig: Penn’s interdisciplinary curricular focus with an emphasis on experiential learning and leadership development was the best opportunity for me to develop in professional school. Wharton’s preeminent finance education and Penn Law’s cross-disciplinary approach to legal education created an unmatched combination of business and law school. I feel that my peers and I will be invaluably prepared to impact this world and attack some of our country’s most perplexing problems.

Accepted: Can you offer some advice to our applicants who are considering applying to a JD/MBA program?

Craig: All the typical advice applies – do well on standardized tests, write good essays, and get quality recommendations from people who know you well. Some more nuanced advice is create and develop a brand early. Decide who you are/want to be and pursue experiences that will enhance or augment that brand. These experiences will not always be a higher rung on the ladder, but in the end will help create a unique value proposition for professional schools and future employers.

For one-on-one guidance on the UPenn application, please see our Wharton School of Business School Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for UPenn, see Wharton 2013 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips.







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