This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Mitch Brummer, second year MBA student at Cornell Johnson…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Mitch: I was born in Columbus, Ohio but grew up outside of Cleveland (2016 was a big year for Cleveland!). For my undergrad studies, I went to Colgate University in Central, NY. While there, I focused on International Relations which led me to Washington, D.C. right after graduating in 2009.
Accepted: Where are you currently attending b-school? What year?
Mitch: I am currently in my second year at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, graduating in May 2017.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about that program?
Mitch: One of my favorite parts about Johnson is the immersion learning program. This program is completed in the 2nd semester of year one. I went through the Strategic Marketing Immersion, which combined a semester-long client project with lectures, cases, simulation, and a trek to marketing-focused companies in New York City. By completing the core and immersion in year one, I felt extremely prepared going into my internship in a new functional area. Many of the topics we learned in detail during the immersion came up immediately over the summer and I was ready and able to contribute in week one.
Accepted: Looking back at the application process, what would you say was your greatest challenge? How would you advise other applicants who may be experiencing similar challenges?
Mitch: My greatest challenge was that I applied to a few too many schools which became a bit overwhelming near the deadlines. While I applied to six schools, it was pretty obvious that I was only interested in four and I would have done myself a favor by only applying to those four.
My advice to other applicants is to try and let go of the feeling that applying should be a “numbers game.” Instead of applying to the one or two extra schools that you aren’t super excited about, spend that time getting to know your core targets and refining those applications as much as you can. Make sure to visit and talk to current students as that can really help you add the extra refinement and personalization to your essays.
Accepted: You’re a Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow at Cornell. How did you learn about this program? How has this program helped shape your MBA experience at Cornell thus far?
Mitch: I learned about the Park Leadership Program initially through the Johnson website and then in more detail when visiting the school and speaking with current students. This program has been integral to my experience and one of the primary reasons has been the opportunity to work with a great group of peers who have all bought in to a 2-year long leadership program. It is one thing to go to lecture sessions and quite another to go to workshops where everyone is open and willing to speak up and advance the dialogue. With the breadth of backgrounds we have in the program, I’ve had the chance to learn from diverse perspectives, from non-profit to military. Additionally, this has been an amazing opportunity to assess my own leadership strengths and weaknesses and practice new styles / techniques without worrying how it might affect a looming year-end performance review.
Accepted: You’ve worked in Consulting prior to starting your MBA. Do you plan on staying in that field after graduation?
Mitch: I do plan on going back to Consulting and will be returning to Deloitte Consulting. I truly enjoyed my work before coming to Johnson and one of my big drivers for going to school was to round out my liberal arts experience with a formal business education in order to bolster my ability to work on strategy projects. During my time at Cornell, I’ve focused my studies and internship on developing a marketing knowledge-base and toolset. Going back to Deloitte, I would like to start focusing my career on marketing-focused strategy projects.
Accepted: Lastly, can you share your top three tips for success for those just starting out their MBA journey?
1. Take “fit” seriously. I applied to a few schools out of convenience that I knew wouldn’t be a great fit. You could tell right away that I was going through the motions and didn’t have the commitment to those applications. Visit the schools you are interested in and talk with current students, you’ll quickly get a feel for your fit there. You are going to be spending 2 years with your new peers so spend the time to get to know current students and your fellow applicants to help pick the schools that best fit with your goals and personality.
2. Have an idea about how you’d like your two years to go (but don’t be afraid to change everything). By going through the application process, you’ll have at least an initial idea of what you would like to do at school and what type of activities and subjects you’d like to take on. It’s great to have this plan coming in, but don’t let having a plan keep you from exploring and making big changes based on what you find once you’ve actually started school. Take a risk with off-campus recruiting if that is where your dream job or company recruits, just make sure to have a solid back-up plan in place.
3. Focus on balance. Going through b-school is busy but likely in a different way from your last job. Recruiting, clubs and activities, coursework, and social life all compete for your time and everyone will have a different opinion on how you should prioritize them. This should be a personal decision, so take the time to step back and figure out what is most important for you and then don’t bite off more than you can chew.
You can connect with Mitch via LinkedIn. Thank you Mitch for sharing your story with us – we wish you continued success!
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