Why Johnson? An Admitted Student Shares her Journey

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 Johnson at Cornell University. (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!

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Interview with a Future NYU Stern MBA and Forte Fellow

NYU Stern Admitted Student InterviewThis 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 an interview with Lourdes, a Forte Fellow who was recently accepted to NYU Stern.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite non-school book?

Lourdes: I was born in Lima, Peru, and my family moved to Charlotte when I was very young. I grew up there and attended North Carolina State University, where I obtained degrees in Political Science and Spanish with a minor in Business Management. My favorite non-school book is “It Happened on the Way to War” by Rye Barcott.

Accepted: Why did you choose NYU Stern?

Lourdes: I decided to go to business school to fine tune my analytical and economic skills and sought a program that offered practical knowledge applied in real-world settings. I also wanted to be in a location that could offer a business playground as a complement to my education. NYU Stern offers the opportunity to learn in NY, which is at the vortex of the business world. I also appreciated the dynamic leadership of the administration, faculty and students. NYU Stern was a curriculum that not only had a legacy of excellence but also a commitment to innovation. Being able to build on the history of the program, as well as implement visionary thinking, was a key factor for me.

Accepted: How would you say you’re a perfect fit with the program? (Unless you believe you’re not a good fit, in which case, please talk about that!)

Lourdes: Throughout the admissions process, the more I learned about NYU Stern, the more I found I had in common with the program. From speaking with students about their goals, with Admissions representatives about international treks to reading articles in the school newspaper about student life, it became clear that NYU Stern was the right fit for me. The students I met were impressive, fun-loving and helpful. They were willing to share insight about their experiences and also be real with me.

At Diversity Weekend, Dean Peter Henry asked us to think about how we would use our MBA degree to make a difference. That resonated profoundly with me in my decision to attend NYU Stern.

Accepted: What clubs or extracurricular activities are you planning on being involved in with?

Lourdes: I plan on being involved with Stern Women in Business, the Association of Hispanic & Black Business Students and the Social Enterprise Association.

Accepted: What have you been doing professionally since college?

Lourdes: My family has a business in the construction and design/build industry. Upon graduating, I worked for the firm in a marketing capacity. I created a separate division of the company dedicated to the real estate investments and property management. I wanted to get my feet wet in the corporate world and was able to gain a position on the sales and trading floor at Sanford C. Bernstein in NY. I was on the sell-side research team dedicated to hedge fund clients. I learned from leaders in the field and wanted to amplify my client-facing skills in a setting more directly tied to the business community. I came across a role in which I could apply my marketing and relationship building skills as the director of public policy at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. I monitored issues that affect the cost of doing business in Charlotte and actively engaged chamber members to learn about pro-business public policies. It was necessary to collaborate with stakeholders from the private, public and social sectors to gain their buy-in for issues.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in that same industry post-MBA, or switching to something new?

Lourdes: My experience in different industries has driven me to learn a holistic approach to business. For that reason, I am looking forward to specializing in Management, Strategy and Social Innovation and Impact to learn the best tools for achieving profit by means of impactful initiatives. I am considering different industries and am seeking a career that will allow me to help a company reach fiscal goals while maintaining a social-conscious approach.

Accepted: What has your experience with the Forte Foundation been like? How has Forte helped you?

Lourdes: I became aware of the Forte Foundation while I was working on my school applications. I was thankful that there was an organization dedicated to promoting women in business. So you can imagine how excited I was to be named a Forte fellow! I was able to attend the Forte Conference in Los Angeles in June. I benefited from networking with the companies and panelists offering advice based on their experiences both in business school and their careers. I was offered an internship at the conference, which I am considering, for next summer. Forte helped make those connections.

Accepted: As someone who’s successfully applied to business school, you must have some good advice! Can you share your top 3 admissions tips with our readers?

Lourdes: I found the most important part of the admissions process to be self-discovery in terms of why I was pursuing an MBA, how I hoped to use my degree and what school was the best fit. Although the applications ask these questions, it’s important you ask yourself them as well. My top three tips would be:

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses.


2. Attend every MBA event (that your schedule allows) to learn the most about each program’s offerings.

3. Speak with at least two current students from each program you are considering.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for NYU Stern, check out our NYU Stern 2015 MBA Essay Tips.

Thank you Lourdes for sharing your story with us!

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An Artist at B-School: Interview with an NYU Stern Langone Student

Click here for more MBA student interviews!

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. And now for a chat with Chris Alexander, a student at NYU Stern’s Langone Part-Time MBA program.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any other degrees?

Chris: There’s a growing subset of the New York population who become affected, deeply and emotionally, when they hear the words “In-N-Out Burger.” They’re called Californians, and I’m one of them.

I grew up in Camarillo, a city in Southern California known for its legendary outlet mall. I got my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz where I studied Studio Art with an emphasis on metal sculpture. Many nights I would work late in the metal studio and emerge when the sun came up, exhausted and dreary-eyed with dozens of burns from running a MIG welder all night. You’re supposed to suffer for your art, right? Bronze and steel were my favorite mediums, and were a huge source of inspiration for me because I knew that the result of my work would be a piece of art that could last thousands of years.

I moved to New York City in 2008 for graduate school and got my Master of Arts in Graphic Communications Management and Technology from the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies. It was great to be surrounded by other craftspeople (designers, illustrators and photographers) that were all in the program for the same reason: to develop the vital skills needed to translate your art into real-world value with a dollar amount behind it.

After graduating with my M.A., I partnered with a current MBA student to enter the New Venture Competition at the NYU Stern School of Business. We had an idea to create a location-based craft beer bar discovery app (Think: Yelp + Pandora for craft beer enthusiasts). The competition itself was an intense experience and much more than just a pitch-off. It was months of marketing, finance and legal workshops, and exclusive unfiltered advice from some heavy-hitter VCs. We got eliminated about halfway into the competition, but in the end it was a truly priceless experience.

As I was not an MBA student at the time, this was a key moment that taught me two things: 1) My understanding of accounting, data analysis and start-up law was embarrassing, and 2) I absolutely needed to acquire those skills in order to be content with my professional self.

So I applied to the NYU Stern Langone Part-Time MBA and began in Fall 2012.

Accepted: What is your favorite non-school book?

Chris: I’ve grown the most from books that teeter on the edge between biography and business – the stories of people who have taken strategic risks, overcome adversity and held tightly – sometimes stubbornly – to the chance of seeing their dreams manifest in a very real way. Some of my favorites are Nothing is Impossible by Christopher Reeves, Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson, Onward by Howard Schultz and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. They’re all very inspiring stories with awesome life and business lessons.

Accepted: What year are you in at NYU Stern’s Langone Part-Time MBA program?

Chris: I’ll be heading into my third year in the program starting Fall 2014.

Accepted: Why did you decide to go part-time at Stern? What are the advantages and disadvantages of going this route?

Chris: The main reason I chose the part-time program was that, as an employee of New York University, I get a very generous tuition remission benefit. So from a financial and strategic perspective, this was simply the choice that made sense for me.

The biggest advantage of a part-time program is the opportunity to develop your academic knowledge in parallel with your professional skills. I know it sounds like a cliché sound byte from a recruitment video (I know because I worked in college admissions for seven years!) but I would actually learn new techniques in a Monday night class that I could pitch to my boss and begin implementing at work later that same week. This not only equipped me with fresh ideas at work, but it also helped me develop a keen sense of which lessons would be professionally applicable in the immediate term and which lessons were more suited for my long term development.

The very real disadvantage is that part-time programs simply take longer to complete. (I suppose there’s a hidden silver lining because one has more time to absorb the b-school experience.) But part-time programs require a real commitment to stay motivated for 3 or 4 years, despite all of the curveballs that work and personal life throws at you.

Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far? 

Chris: Digital Marketing with Professor Scott Galloway (@profgalloway) was the most professionally applicable class for me thus far. Galloway leads the business intelligence agency L2 Think Tank, and brought a wealth of cutting edge industry insights and fantastic guest speakers to the class.

Accepted: Why did you choose Stern? What’s your favorite thing about the program? Least favorite thing?

Chris: The primary reason I chose NYU Stern was because it’s very highly ranked among part-time MBA programs (#4 according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 ranking, surpassed only by Haas, Booth and Kellogg).

My favorite aspect of the program is having a community of smart, driven working professionals as classmates. There’s a shared understanding of how much everyone is sacrificing to be in this program, and a real respect for each other’s time. We don’t have the luxury of spending excess time on non-critical activities. People really cut the fluff and get down to business, and I like that.

My least favorite aspect of the program is that I wish there was a bit more representation from folks who are laser-focused on digital marketing and entrepreneurship. Finance is just such a dominant force at NYU Stern – as it should be given the location – but at times I struggled to fit in with a classroom full of investment bankers and stock traders. Though once I start taking more higher-level electives I’m sure that dynamic will change.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known just before entering?

Chris: Definitely! Here are three nuggets of wisdom I wish I had known before starting the program:

1. Get to know what campus resources are available to you before getting swamped by readings, case studies and group projects. Once the semester starts, the pace and workload ramps up and doesn’t slow down. Even basic things were super helpful to know such as the location of printers, how to reserve study rooms or where to find coffee at odd hours.

2. Research professors ahead of time. Your class experience can range from mediocre to life-changing depending on the professor’s passion, background and teaching style. I constantly ask other students about their favorite professors, and keep a Google Doc with a running list for future reference.

3. Know what YOU want to get out of the MBA experience. In a part-time program, time is definitely your most limited resource, so have a real strategy going in. Academically, what do you want your skill-set to look like upon graduating? Personally, what kinds of relationships do you want to make and what types of people do you need in your network?

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Chris: The most challenging part of the NYU Stern admissions process was the “personal expression” essay that prompts you to “describe yourself to your MBA classmates.” There are virtually zero constraints on the actual medium of the essay. Some applicants submit audio recordings, paintings, digital creations and everything in between.

But every challenge is an opportunity in disguise, or at least that’s how I approached it. This was my chance to differentiate myself and show them something unique. I consider myself to be a talented visual communicator, so I designed a huge infographic poster displaying key moments of my personal and professional development. Each moment became a node in a web of experiences that were color-coded, categorized and charted across the years of my life.

Accepted; Can you tell us about your resume writing email course?

Chris: As a personal project, I’ve been working on designing an online resource to help college students and recent grads beef up their resumes in preparation for finding a job. It’s called the Kickass Resume Course and it’s a free self-guided email course that walks students through a range of lessons from basic visual design principles to crafting a narrative around your work experience to quantifying your achievements.

In my eight years of working in higher education I’ve reviewed hundreds of student resumes and have interviewed many students for various jobs. I’ve met some super-sharp, ambitious students who didn’t get hired because they came in with lackluster resumes and zero interviewing skills. So I’ve packaged everything I’ve learned and observed over the years into this email course. It’s a way for me to give back and help other students get a boost during their first job interviews.

Students can sign up at www.kickassresumecourse.com. It’s always free and (hopefully) always awesome!

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for NYU Stern, check out our NYU Stern 2015 MBA Essay Tips

Thank you Chris for sharing your story with us!

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Student Body, Recruitment, Location: Future UCLA Anderson MBA Interview

Click here to learn more about UCLA Anderson!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. And now for a follow up interview with Piyush, who was recently accepted to UCLA Anderson. (We first met Piyush last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)

Accepted: Can you remind us a little about who you are?

Piyush: I am an incoming UCLA Anderson MBA candidate with experience in development consulting, entrepreneurship (retail) and oil and gas. Most of my roles in these industries have been people-orientated and in sales. I am a biotech graduate from London and have lived in 7 countries, mostly in the Middle-East.

Accepted: Which schools did you get accepted to and why did you choose UCLA Anderson? Why do you think that’s the best school for you?

Piyush: I got accepted at number of top-tier business schools in India and the U.S., but choose Anderson mainly for the student body, diversity in recruitment and location. I have expanded this in detail on my Anderson student blog post here.

Based on my interests and past experiences, I will be looking in pharma/biotech marketing and sales at tech companies such as Google or Amazon. Anderson has focused its curriculum around different functional tracks including marketing, allowing me to focus early on. Also the school has a great relationship with companies such as Amgen and Google.

Accepted: Can you talk about your decision to attend a U.S. MBA program over a program in India?

Piyush: It is difficult to compare MBA programs in India and the U.S. because they are serving different markets and addressing different business problems. India scores more on the economy growth front, job placements numbers, and cost. But U.S. schools such as Anderson stand out for job readiness, leadership, exposure, diversity and experience.

It also boils down to where you want to work immediately post-MBA. The schools have the biggest value in their respective regions. Having studied and worked in India, I was looking for a new and diverse experience.

Accepted: What are you most looking forward to with starting b-school in the fall?

Piyush: I am most looking forward to being a student again. The excitement to learn new things, ask questions and at the same time have fun. I am also very excited to meet my classmates at Anderson.

Accepted: Can you talk about your waitlist experience at UNC? What did you do in between getting the news that you were on the waitlist and then getting the acceptance letter? Did you take steps to improve your profile, write a waitlist letter, etc.?

Piyush: I think the term waitlist should be renamed to some actionable term such as reach-out or something. A lot of candidates simply choose to wait, which really does not help their application. I understand that some business schools (such as Ross), only allow you to send one update but most schools are happy to host you on-campus and learn about your progress.

I was waitlisted at a few schools, and the first thing I did was seek feedback. You will be surprised how the admissions team views your application. Since I was not able to improve my profile drastically, I visited the school, networked with current students, and reached out to admissions team frequently.

Patience and persistence is generally rewarded at this stage of application.

Accepted: An MBA is not cheap – do you have any tips for our readers on paying for b-school?

Piyush: There are number of ways to finance an MBA, ranging from company sponsorship to private loans. I believe a strong GMAT score and application certainly helps you land a scholarship.

Apart from customized loan programs for international students, students can ease their financial burden during studies with academic internships and teaching assistant positions.

Accepted: How do you plan on spending the time between now and when you start school in the fall? Are you doing anything to prepare for b-school?

Piyush: I am taking some time off from work and travelling in India. Anderson has kept us busy with weekly emails, which ensure that we are ready with everything. The UCLA Anderson Parker Career Management Center has started working with us closely.

I am also doing a small pre-MBA course at mbamath.com to get ready for the academic rigor of business school.

Accepted: What would you say are your top three MBA admissions tips?

1. Start early – This is very important. I used a number of resources from Accepted.com and Admissionado to kick-start my applications.

2. GMAT score matters, at least for Indian applicants – A couple of business schools asked me to increase my GMAT to 740 during the waitlist period because I was competing with fellow Indian citizens many of whom also presented stellar applications. My GMAT score was already 720.

3. Take the medicine – Spend the time and resource to learn about the business school you are interested it. Your research and interest directly reflect in your essays and interview.

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

You can read more about Piyush by checking out his blog, Piyush Jain: Science, Technology & Sports, and following him on Twitter here. Thank you Piyush for sharing your story with us!

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Reflections of a Wharton MBA Student and CommonBond Intern

Applying to Wharton in 2015? Check out our application essay tips!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. And now for a chat with Tim Hager, a student at Wharton.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Tim: I am from a small town outside of Philadelphia, PA called Ivyland. I went to Georgetown University as an undergrad (Class of 2009) where I studied Finance and Management, and played on the golf team. After undergrad, I competed as a professional golfer for 2 years, and then worked in finance for the following 3 years. My favorite ice cream is, hands down, Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Brownie.

Accepted: Where and what year are you in business school? 

Tim: I am in the MBA class of 2015 at The Wharton School (UPenn).

Accepted: In what ways would you say that you’re a good fit with Wharton? 

Tim: The great thing about Wharton is that there is no “normal.” Our class represents such a diverse group of backgrounds, professions, and cultures; so everyone’s fit with Wharton is what they make it! For me, my fit is with the day to day culture: I go to school with over 800 incredibly smart and accomplished people and we all take the curriculum, studying, and recruiting very seriously.

But, equally important is that we are also good about compartmentalizing the stress of recruiting and academics and at not taking ourselves too seriously at times. We make sure we capitalize on the other benefit that b-school offers: growing your social network, traveling the world, building friendships, and just plain old having fun with your classmates.

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

Tim: Have it not be so darn expensive! But no, in all seriousness, Wharton is an incredible place and the friendships, networks, learning, job prospects, and just genuine fun that it provides us is more than I ever imagined. Wharton is a remarkable place of opportunity, and I wouldn’t change that at all.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your internship at CommonBond? In what ways did Wharton help you secure that internship? What’s the internship recruiting process like at Wharton? 

Tim: The internship recruiting process at Wharton means different things for different people. It really starts in early fall for first year students looking to get into mature industries like Investment Banking, Investment Management, and Consulting. In these industries, students are networking and preparing for interviews really starting a few months after they arrive at school in the fall. Recruiting for business roles (Management, Marketing, Operations, Sales, etc) at many of the Corporate, F100 Brands occurs a bit later (Jan-March). Finally, recruiting for early stage companies and startups typically happens last, but can range anytime from February to May. Sometimes startups will recruit on Wharton’s Campus, and other times students identify a startup they are interested in and secure the internship on their own. It really ranges.

Wharton was key in allowing me to get my internship with CommonBond. CommonBond was one of the early stage firms that recruits via Wharton’s internal career website, and that was the first time I was introduced to David Klein and the rest of the awesome team at CommonBond.

My internship at CommonBond has been tremendous thus far. A big reason I came here was to be a part of an innovative firm disrupting the industry in which they compete. CommonBond is doing just that. I had worked in venture (on the financing side) for three years before coming to b-school, and wanted to experience being on the operations and execution side of the equation. I have experienced just that and then some! The challenges facing any early stage firm are more than most people imagine; and when you identify an opportunity or need to get something done, it falls directly on you to do it. That is the coolest part. I’ll give you an example. Although my job role is business development here at CommonBond, I have spent time building website landing pages, running social media marketing campaigns, writing industry content, and analyzing new markets, in addition to my core BD functions.

Accepted: B-school’s not cheap (as you mentioned) — do you have any tips for us on how to finance your business degree? 

Tim: Be smart about it. Do your research. Look, the cost of education is high, we all know it. But the cost of money to buy that education is equally high. There are a lot of places to go for loans. My advice? Look to a lender who is going to provide value above and beyond the check that they write. Look for one that tries to understand who you are, helps grow your personal and professional network for you, and supports your career goals. Commonbond.co is the lender doing it the best.

Accepted: And finally, do you have additional tips you can share on how to get into a top business school like Wharton? What are some things applicants can do to optimize their chances of acceptance?

Tim: I’d love to tell you there were a specific formula (trust me, I really would), but there just isn’t. Being your genuine self is truly the best chance that you have. That said, I do have a few tips:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to take your GMAT. Use whatever free time you have to study NOW, and take the test. Your scores are good for 5 years, and it takes the pressure off of you the 6 months before applications are due, when you should be focusing on essays, recommendations, and your personal narrative; NOT figuring out how long it will take for a cylindrical barrel to fill up with 4 hoses in it all running at different speeds. Many of the prep courses out there are good- I used Manhattan GMAT – but 80% of the prep is still going to be on your own, outside of the prep class in order for you to really nail the GMAT. Take practice tests; I took 8!

2. Apply in round 1 or round 2….don’t wait for round 3 unless you’ve won an Olympic gold medal, walked on the moon, or are fluent in 10 different languages.

3. Be YOU in your essays, and not who you think the admissions office wants you to be.
Seriously. If you think admissions directors haven’t heard every line in the book, your mistaken. Insincerity is unmistakable. And so is vanity; be proud of who you are but there’s no need to boast…I promise you, your classmates-to-be are equally as cool and accomplished. Finally, do some hard thinking about what is truly unique about you. I’m not talking about how you were the only one of your PE associates to get asked back by your PE firm for a third year (Let your boss say that in his recommendation!). You focus on what truly matters to you in life. Answer that and let it come out in your writing.

4. Apply everything in point #3 to your in-person interview as well.


5. Have a cocktail [or 3] after your last in-person interview, and celebrate!
You just went through a grueling process. The work is done at that point and stressing more will only take hair off of your head and years off of your life – it won’t change your admissions decision. :)

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school applications, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Wharton see:

• What’s Right with Wharton (and How to Get In), a free webinar.
• Wharton 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
• Wharton Executive MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Thank you Tim for sharing your stories with us!

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