Current Full-Time Cornell Johnson Student Interview is continuing a blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at selected MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Cornell JohnsonHere’s a talk with a student who came to Cornell Johnson with a life sciences/criminology background, then transitioned into an international career in finance.

We hear Ithaca is “gorges” but what about those winters?

I’m a native of Hong Kong and grew up in Toronto, so the winters weren’t a big deal.  Cornell’s proximity to Wall Street was a major advantage during my job hunt.

What did you want out of an MBA program? Did your career goals change once you arrived?

I did want an Ivy League school — maybe it’s Asia — but people are way more aware of names than rankings, and that helps with the job search. I was deciding between Brand Management and Finance, but realized all the good brand management jobs were restricted to Americans. So I dedicated my search to finance, since I don’t have a green card and was not going to add an additional challenge to an already tough process.

What strategies helped you find a job?

Face to face time is so important.  I basically commuted to New York City a lot, made countless phone calls, even flew out to Hong Kong to meet people.  But the effort paid off.

What are you doing now?

I’m working in finance with the cash sales trading group in Citigroup in Hong Kong.

How did you sell yourself to them, without having a finance background?

Honestly, I think my life sciences familiarity gave me a different perspective and helped me sell myself as a special candidate. With life sciences, I’ll have a strength when selling equities in bio tech, pharmaceuticals.

What was your best day on campus at Cornell?

My best day was when I got my internship and full time offer! From then on, I could focus on my classes and social life. I was just cruising by then.

What was your worst day?

There were a few — mostly during the initial job search, when i was looking for an internship. The process was competitive, and first semester is always intense. It was very difficult to balance the academics and the job search.

Who were your favorite professors and why?

My Chinese professor was fantastic, because she really, really took the time out to make sure I learnt my Chinese well in preparation for class. I also really liked my accounting professors Margaret Shackell Dowell and Mark Nelson. Accounting wasn’t my forte, but they let me take my time to make sure I really understood the concepts.

Can you recommend any cozy places to warm up, and fill up?

Plumtrum, Sangam and State Street Diner.

And finally why do you think you got the job you want?  Any tips for incoming students on the job hunt?

Yes, network early! Get your resume ready early, be confident in yourself, be realistic, and also have backup plans.

Michelle StockmanInterview conducted by Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted clients applying to top business schools since 2007.  She is happy to help you with your application.


Forbes Announces Top Ten Business Schools


Forbes has just released its list of the top business schools in America. The Forbesranking methodology is based on the return on investment achieved by the class of 2006. They surveyed 16,000 alumni at over 100 schools and received feedback from 30% of those grads. They then compared the earnings of the respondents from 2006-2011 to the cost of business school.

While Forbes lists 74 top schools, the top ten are:

  1. Harvard
  2. Stanford
  3. Chicago (Booth)
  4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  5. Columbia
  6. Dartmouth (Tuck)
  7. Northwestern (Kellogg)
  8. Cornell (Johnson)
  9. Virginia (Darden)
  10. MIT (Sloan)

Poets and Quants analyzes the Forbes’ data in terms of winners and losers, those who went up in the Forbes’ rankings and those who went down; it provides a useful table comparing the salary data by school to previous years’ salary data.

Of greater interest to me is the overall profitable MBA picture presented by the Forbes data: every single program in the top 74 has positive ROI, admittedly less in more expensive locales and a few in single digits, but the overwhelming majority showed a greater than 20% gain after five years. And that’s despite the recession.

So for those of you who have professional goals that require an MBA, it looks like a solid investment.   

Linda AbrahamBy , President and Founder of



Cornell Johnson 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

The Cornell Johnson 2013 MBA Application Essay Tips are Available. Click Here to Check Them Out!

This Cornell Johnson 2012 MBA Application tip post is one in a series providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Review the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice. 

Cornell Johnson

Cornell Johnson 2012 MBA Essay Questions

Essays Required for All Applicants:

1) What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of an MBA degree and why?

MBA goals question, but slightly different from last year, which also asked “Why Johnson?” This is a straight-forward goals question. What do you want to do after your MBA degree. Answer in terms of function and industry, and maybe geography, if that is an important part of your goal. 

As long as your goal requires an MBA and is supported by Johnson’s curriculum, the “why” part of this question is almost certainly more important than the “What.” Rather than waxing eloquent about your philosophy of career choice, tell a story about a seminal event or impressive achievement that reflects your interest in and fitness for your chosen profession. If your a career changer, then your story needs to reveal the qualities that you have demonstrated and that are required for your desired path.

2) You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the table of contents for the book.
Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.

Have a little fun with the question. You certainly have a lot of options and flexibility here. You can reveal something about your youth, influential experiences or people, challenges, hobbies, interests, passions… Perhaps where you intend to be in 30 years. It’s Your Life Story. 

3) What legacy would you hope to leave as a Johnson Graduate?

Christine Sneva writes on the Johnson admissions blog “The adcom wants you to really evaluate what “fit” means to you for Johnson. ‘Fit’ is different for everyone, so we want to see how authentic and purposeful you are about applying.”

So this question is about fit, but it also is about “legacy.” What are you going to leave at Johnson? How will your class be better because you are in it? Where do you plan to contribute? Show that you have done your homework on the curricular and co-curricular aspects of Cornell Johson in your response.

Essay Required for All Re-applicants: How did you strengthen your application since you last applied to the Johnson School?(400 word limit)

This is the key question for all MBA re-applicants. Why are you a better applicant now than you were when they rejected you last time?

Optional Essay: Complete this essay if you would like to add additional details regarding your candidacy. For instance, if you believe one or more aspects of your application (e.g., undergraduate record or test scores) do not accurately reflect your potential for success at the Johnson School. (400 word limit)

Given how little Johnson requests, I encourage you to write the optional essay. Just make sure you are submitting an informative optional essay that complements the required essays and adds to the reader’s knowledge of you and your qualifications.  If you do not have something to explain, this optional would be a great place to explore in depth a non-professional interest or commitment of yours.

If you would like professional guidance with your Cornell Johnson application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our Cornell Johnson School Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Johnson MBA application. 

Cornell Johnson 2012 MBA Application Deadlines

Round Application Notification
Round 1 October 12, 2011 December 20, 2011
Round 2 November 30, 2011 February 28, 2012
Round 3 January 25, 2012 March 27, 2012
Round 4 March 14, 2012 April 24, 2012

Linda Abraham By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

MBA Admissions News Roundup


  • An article in Inside Higher Ed examines Wake Forest University’s Schools of Business climb in the rankings. The school’s success is due to its focus on job placement and career management.  This news only highlights how important it is for business schools to advocate on behalf of their students looking for employment.
  • With all the outsiders debating the importance of getting an MBA, the Huffington Post takes a look at a dean’s insider perspective on the value of a graduate degree in business. Joe Thomas, the Dean of Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, explores how MBA programs have grown and become increasingly valuable over the years.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek has assembled a list of what business school professors think MBA students should read over the summer to prepare for the following school year.  The top choices include: Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust (Times Books, April 2011) by Diana B. Henriques, Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India are Reshaping their Futures and Yours (Harvard Business Press, March 2011) by Tarun Khanna, and How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One (Harper, January 2011) by Stanley Fish.
  • An article in The Financial Times announced that the Kenan-Flager school at University of North Carolina will launch a dual-degree program with the school of pharmacy. The new PharmD/MBA degree will allow students to earn both a doctorate in pharmacy and an MBA in five years.
  • US News evaluates how American MBA programs have encouraged their students to learn about the modern day global economy through classroom study and treks abroad.  However, Guy Pfeffermann, founder and CEO of the Global Business School Network, feels not enough is being done and “schools need to bring in more students from emerging markets and developing countries.” ~ Helping You Write Your Best

MBA Admissions: Cornell Johnson and Sustainable Global Enterprise Management


This post about Cornell Johnson and sustainable global enterprise management is part of a series of interviews of top MBA programs called “MBA Career Goals and the B-Schools that Support Them.” Please subscribe to our blog to ensure that you receive all the interviews exploring the elements at each school that support career goals in finance, consulting, general management, entrepreneurship, marketing and more.

Here is the interview with the Career Management Center team at Cornell Johnson.

What kind of background and skills do you like to see in applicants expressing interest in a career in sustainable global enterprise management?

Students should be able to demonstrate a passion for the sustainability space.  Also, having a solid background in consulting, banking, corporate finance, or marketing helps.  Sustainability positions usually require a proven functional skill.

What aspects of Johnson’s curriculum are best suited to students who want to pursue a career in sustainable global enterprise management?

The Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion provides a solid foundation on the sustainability industry.  In recognition that many of the sustainability jobs require strong functional skills, the immersion allows the flexibility of taking other courses during the spring semester of the 1st year.

Which school clubs, programs, and extra-curricular events are most relevant to people interested in sustainable global enterprise management?

Participation in the Sustainable Global Enterprise Club – Net Impact Chapter is key.  Those interested in energy should join the Energy Club.  Students should also join clubs related to specific function, such as Old Ezra for finance, the Consulting Club for consulting, or the Marketing Association for marketing.

Since sustainable global enterprise management is a broad term, can you provide some examples of the positions held by graduates in this field?

Some of the graduates take positions in jobs outside of the core sustainability space where they may be able to incorporate the sustainability mindset into their jobs.  Those who take positions within the sustainability field work in a variety of industries and functions.  Some examples include the Renewable Energy Leadership Program at General Electric, marketing at S.C. Johnson, strategic analysis at Waste Management, Accenture Development Partnerships Program at Accenture, financial planning analyst at EnerNOC, Commercial Operations Manager at Yingli Green Energy, and strategy with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Which organizations recruit at Cornell Johnson for environmental management/sustainable development? How many graduates of your 2010 class received offers in this field?

Most companies in this space do minimal on-campus recruiting, so many students do independent career searches.  Some companies that do come on campus include General Electric, Accenture, EnerNoc, Education Pioneers, and Acciona.

The percentage of students who receive offers in this field range from 5%-10%.