Follow Up MBA Interview with Johnson Student Debra Yoo

Debra_Yoo_Cornell_Johnson_StudentThis 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 for a follow up interview with Debra Yoo, who was recently accepted to Cornell Johnson. (We first met Debra last year – you can read our first interview with her here.)

Accepted: Welcome back! Can you just remind our readers — where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any other degrees?

Debra: I grew up in the Chicagoland area and attended Columbia University for undergrad where I majored in English and Asian American Studies along with completing Columbia’s Creative Writing Program (as you can see, I did not have a very business-oriented background!). After spending a few more years in NYC, I moved to Los Angeles with my husband. We were there for about four years before we relocated to Ithaca last month.

Accepted: Congrats on gaining accepted to Johnson! What are the 3 main traits of the Johnson school that attracted you to it?

Debra:

1) The people. Of all the students and alumni that I contacted at the various schools I applied to, those who attended Johnson had the highest response rate–by far. And not only did they respond promptly, they answered my questions very thoroughly and honestly. I was so impressed. It really speaks to the quality of Johnson’s smaller, tight-knit community.

2) The location. I know, I know–many folks out there don’t apply to Johnson because of its location, but Ithaca really appealed to me. Aside from its natural beauty, I wanted to be in a small town where I could get to know my fellow students without the distractions of a big city. I’m finding that many others here also had the same mindset when they chose Johnson, which once again shows that community is a high priority for most everyone here.

3) Johnson’s immersion program. I didn’t want my schooling to be completely academic and theoretical–I wanted as much hands-on experience as I could possibly get. At Johnson, most of the core coursework (accounting, finance, marketing, etc.) is completed during the first semester of the first year, leaving time during the second semester to complete an in-depth consulting project for a real-life company. For the marketing immersion, students in the past have completed projects for companies including Microsoft, Bayer and HP.

Accepted: How did you go about researching schools? Did you participate in any MBA fairs or events?

Debra: I attended a Forte Forum in Los Angeles in August 2013, which was unbelievably helpful. The Forum really helped me finalize my choices of schools; at that point, I had pored over a ton of websites but hadn’t made any connections with the schools in person. I looked into other MBA fairs, but none of them had all the schools I wanted to apply to–maybe two or three at most. The Forte Forum was the only event that had almost all the top schools present. If you are a woman planning on applying to top 20 b-schools, the forum is a great way to speak to recruiters from them in one room. And you get to do it in a smaller, female crowd. It’s wonderful all around.

Aside from the forum, I also emailed/spoke with ambassadors and alumni at all the schools I was interested in. I was originally planning on staying in the nonprofit space after graduating, so I had many questions about nontraditional paths that I wanted answers to. Speaking with the right alumni whose careers post-b-school resonated with me played a lot into my final decision making.

I was told that it was really important to visit campuses in person before applying, but I did not have the resources or time to do so. For a long time I agonized over whether I was decreasing my chances of admission by not doing campus visits, but I believe the impact was minimal (if it impacted me at all). But if you’re able to visit campuses, you really should! They can give you great fodder for your essays and help you make sure that the school is the right place for you.

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with the Forte Foundation? What do they do and how have they helped you?

Debra: I love the Forte Foundation, and I owe much of my success so far to their support!

The Forte Foundation is a consortium of top b-schools and leading companies who support women in business. Women still have a ways to go when it comes to equal representation in business, especially in senior management. It’s an issue we all need to remain aware of and take thoughtful and deliberate actions to address.

I first discovered Forte when I started my MBA application process, and I’m so glad I did. I never thought that I would one day attend business school, so I was really starting my learning from scratch. I listened to several of Forte’s free webinars about the application process and read through their entire website for guidance.

I am also very thankful to have been selected a Forte Fellow by the Johnson admissions team. In addition to receiving a scholarship (that I am very, very grateful to have!), being a Fellow comes with many other benefits including networking opportunities and support for your job search.

I also attended the 2014 Forte MBA Women’s Leadership Conference that was held in Los Angeles earlier this year. It was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by hundreds of other talented, ambitious women who were all about to begin their MBA journeys. And it was also a great way to kick off our new lives as students and remind us that we are all working together toward closing the gender gap in business.

Accepted: Have you taken any classes or prepared in any other way to your smooth transition to business school?

Debra: I have never taken a single economics or statistics course in my entire life, much less accounting or finance. I was really concerned about my lack of experience in the area, so I completed an online pre-MBA mathematics course at a nearby university earlier this year. It exposed me to some of the common terms and calculations I’ll come across in school.

Johnson also provided us access to mbamath.com (I believe several other business schools do this, also) over the summer. I’ve been working my way through the units on finance, economics and statistics to prepare myself.

In addition to all the math, I switched my leisure reading time to business-related books, including authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Dale Carnegie and Sheryl Sandberg.

Accepted: What sort of career do you plan on pursuing post-MBA?

Debra: My background so far is in marketing/communications in the nonprofit sector. After school, I plan on doing marketing in the corporate world in the consumer packaged goods industry. I am hoping to return to the nonprofit sector later on down the line at a senior management level.

Accepted: B-school’s not cheap!  Do you have tips for financing an MBA?

Debra: It’s tough; really, really tough. The (very) few third-party scholarships I’ve found out there are for very specific populations and are for smaller amounts. All I can say is to really take your future career path into account when considering the cost of your program. If you are planning on entering the nonprofit space, look for schools with loan forgiveness programs like Yale or Stanford. And if you get scholarship offers, try negotiating the amount. When budgeting, keep a large buffer for travel expenses. Also check out loan alternatives like Common Bond. There’s some interesting stuff out there if you look for it!

Accepted: Do you have any advice for applicants about the start the MBA admissions journey?

Debra: Go beyond rankings, career placement stats and average starting salaries when narrowing down your options. Try to get as good a feel as you can for the community and the types of people at the schools you’re interested in. I think a good way to measure this is whether you feel a desire to contribute to and help develop and grow that community. You’ll be spending the next two years with those people and they will be your professional network for the rest of your life, so find a good match!

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school applications, please see our MBA Application Packages

Thank you Debra for sharing your story with us!

Attend_The_Forte_Forum

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A B-School Professor on Main Street, USA

Listen to the full recording of our interview with Scott Schaefer!Dr. Scott Schaefer escaped an economics conference and ended up in a fortuitous encounter that changed his life.

Listen to the recording of our conversation with Dr. Shaefer, Kendall D. Garff Chair in Business Administration and Professor of Finance at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, for some great insights into small business, business school, and the place where the two meet.

00:02:03 – How a trip to the shoe store inspired Roadside MBA.

00:06:35 – The Roadside MBA Manifesto.

00:12:54 – Want to hear some great stories?

00:17:43 – The story Scott wishes he had included in the book (and so does Linda).

00:24:57 – Surprising takeaways from Roadside MBA project.

00:28:53 – How the Roadside MBA changed the way Scott teaches.

00:33:45 – If only MBA students came to campus knowing…

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

Roadside MBA: Backroad Wisdom for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners (Linda highly recommends it.)
• 
Roadside MBA
Roadside MBA on Twitter
Entrepreneurship & the MBA

Related Shows:

MBAs Across America: Entrepreneurs with a Heart
• MBAs Across America: The Coolest HBS Internship (original interview)
Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
Introducing the Master in Entrepreneurship Program at the Univ. of Michigan

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Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

UCLA Anderson 2015 Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out the rest of our school-specific application essay tips!

UCLA Anderson

The advice that UCLA Anderson provides below is excellent, not just for Anderson’s essays, but for most MBA essays. Read it carefully. 

My tips are in blue below.

Your essays are the primary way for you to share your perspectives and plans with the admissions committee. The best essays are introspective, genuine and succinct in directly answering our questions and responding to our topics.

• Essay questions are listed below for both first-time applicants and re-applicants.
• You should try to distinguish yourself by showing what makes you different from others who share similar profiles.
• Personal expression is what we are looking for, not platitudes.
• Making a strong case for your future plans requires you to first do research on career paths and find one that resonates. Even if this target will change during business school, your application essays should lay out a clear trajectory for short-term and long-term goals. Do this by demonstrating how you expect to build on skills from your past, and those you expect to gain from the MBA.
• Essays are more compelling if they include specific courses, programs, groups, opportunities, activities, etc. from which you would benefit, if admitted to UCLA Anderson. These references are best found through website research, personal discussions and a campus visit (if possible).
• Content and clarity are key elements, as we seek superior communication skills.
• Style is a consideration too, although we understand that those who speak other languages may have different manners of expression in English.
• We do check your essays for plagiarism, so make sure you always submit your own work.
• Length does not equal strength. A well-written short essay can have even more impact than a longer essay. Please try to respect the word limits indicated below.
• All responses to essays must be on double-spaced pages that are uploaded as a document. We do not accept essays in any other media but written form.

Essay:

UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, Drive Change. What principles have defined your life and pre-MBA career? How do you believe that UCLA Anderson’s principles, and the environment they create, will help you attain your post-MBA career goals?  (750 words maximum)

Anderson has simplified it’s essay requirements but gives you enough room to write a revealing response. Make sure that essay shows that can answer the question articulately and belong at Anderson.

First think about what’s important to you. What guides and drives your behavior? If you can summarize those principles in two words as Anderson does, that’s great. If not, don’t sweat it, but do be succinct. If you come up with more than three principles, choose the three that are most important to you, but I advise against going with more than three. If you want to use fewer than three, that’s OK too. And, for Heaven’s sake don’t be tempted to say that your guiding principles are verbatim identical to Anderson’s.

A great way to approach this essay would be to discuss an experience or anecdote that represents your guiding principles and then connect that story and your values to UCLA’s critical principles and the Anderson culture.  Then conclude by addressing the last part of the question: How Anderson’s principles and “environment” will help you realize your post-MBA career goals.

Optional Essay:

Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware?  (250 words maximum)

If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective on or “explain” a weakness, you can discuss them here. A few years ago, UCLA added the following: “Please do not submit redundant information in the Optional Essay.” Good advice for all optional questions. For more suggestions, please see The Optional Question: To Be or not To Be

Required Re-applicant Essay:

Reapplicants who applied for the class entering Fall 2013 or 2014 are required to complete the following essay. Please be introspective and authentic in your response. We value the opportunity to learn about your aspirations and goals.

Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)

This is the key question in every MBA reapplication: How have you enhanced your candidacy? Career progress is an obvious place to start and something you must address, but if academics were a weakness, then what have you done since you last applied to show you can excel at Anderson? 

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

Want more school specific MBA application essay tips? Click here!

UCLA 2015 Application Deadlines:

UCLA Anderson Application Deadlines

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

 

Related Resources:

UCLA Anderson B-School Zone
• Student Body, Recruitment, Location: Future UCLA Anderson MBA Interview
• Hard Work and Humility: Reflections of a UCLA Anderson Student

Wharton Class of 2015 Profile

Let’s take a look at Wharton’s class of 2015 profile (from Wharton’s website):

Applying to Wharton? Join our webinar to learn how to get in!• Total applicants: 6,036
• Women: 42%
• Enrolled class: 837
• International students: 35%
• U.S. minorities: 30%
• Range of years of work experience: 0-13
• Mean years of work experience: 5
• Mean overall GMAT: 725
• Middle 80% GMAT range: 690-760
• Undergraduate majors:

-  STEM (25%)
-  Business (28%)
-  Humanities/social sciences/economics (44%)
- Other (3%)

 • Industry experience:

Join our upcoming webinar for great advice on how to get accepted to Wharton!

Are you looking to join the next Wharton class? Join us for our upcoming webinar, Get Accepted to the Wharton School, to learn key strategies to help you get accepted to Wharton and other top business schools!

Date: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET

Register now: Get Accepted to the Wharton School

You CAN get accepted to Wharton! Click here to learn more.

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