Cornell Tech Student Interview: Where CS Meets the MBA

Want to read more student interviews?  Click here!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 Will Hester, an M. Eng. Cornell Tech student in NYC.

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?

Will: I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I went to the University of Texas at Austin and was conferred two degrees: A Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on Software Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

My favorite non-school book is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (never read it for school, believe it or not).

Accepted: Can you tell us about the new program you’re in? How did you choose Cornell Tech? Why was it the best match for you?

Will: Cornell Tech is a pretty unique graduate program. In addition to the individual MBA and CS curriculum, there is also a co-curriculum led by Greg Pass, former CTO at Twitter. The co-curriculum consists mainly of exercises and projects done in groups of both CS and MBA students. Most notably during the fall semester, we were all split into groups of 4-5 half-MBA, half-CS company project groups, in which we worked closely with companies like AOL, Bloomberg, eBay, Google, LinkedIn, and Microsoft just to name a few. All the while the co-curriculum is conducted in a very fast-paced, startup-like atmosphere (we are constantly encouraged by faculty and guest speakers to follow the startup path, be it start one’s own venture, or join a startup post-graduation).

Cornell Tech was the best match for me because I knew I wanted to pursue my masters in CS, but I also wanted some business education without going all-out trying to get an MBA as well. I always have had an interest in startups, so the faster-paced, smaller nature of the program was extremely attractive. I could not be happier to be at Cornell Tech.

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

Will: If I could change one thing about the program, I wish we were already in the future campus.

Accepted: Can you talk about your program’s relationship on campus with the Cornell Johnson MBA students? Can you explain why some people would choose Cornell Tech and some Cornell Johnson? 

Will: The CS students have a very close relationship with the MBA students. There’s a set time every week for us to work side-by-side on our company projects, and several learning exercises we work together on. The Cornell Tech MBA program is exclusively a 1-year program, whereas the normal Johnson MBA program in Ithaca has both one- and two-year options. The biggest difference between the Ithaca and Cornell Tech programs is that Cornell Tech is much more entrepreneurial/startup-focused. Our guest speakers are mostly serial entrepreneurs, and the projects are fast-paced and you typically build a real product with the CS students.

The Cornell Tech MBA students are in Ithaca for courses with the other Johnson one-year MBAs for three months over the summer before coming to the NYC campus. Additionally, the Cornell Tech MBAs spend a couple of weeks over winter break in Israel, working with Israeli startups.

Accepted: Are you involved in any clubs or competitions on campus? 

Will: Since the program is very new, Cornell Tech doesn’t have many official, established clubs. We are in the process of founding them. The most well-developed club is probably the Disruptive Technology Club.

Accepted: What do you plan on doing once you graduate? 

Will: I accepted a job with a Boston-based fantasy sports company called DraftKings, where I will start in July.

Accepted: Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been involved with lately?

Will: At Cornell Tech, I was part of a group with one other M. Eng. CS student and two MBAs in which we spent a semester working on a mobile application for AOL using beacons. At Cornell Tech, we’d meet with the other company project teams every Tuesday to see what everyone else was working on and receive help from industry specialists, entrepreneurs, and each other if we needed it. Once a month, we have a “hack day” on campus. All students participate in a 24-hour hackathon with their company project team and show off what they accomplished at the end. My AOL team developed an Android and iOS messaging application in which users can send messages to a particular user and location combination, so the recipients won’t receive the message until they are physically near where the message was sent to. We placed Bluetooth Low Energy beacons all around campus to provide locations that messages could be sent to.

Outside of school, JustGotGood.com is my most notable project. JustGotGood provides text message alerts for NBA games that are triggered when a particular game is within X points with less than Y time remaining, where the user defines X and Y.

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

You can read more about Will’s journey by checking out his About Me page. Thank you Will for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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Related Resources:

Honing in On the Cornell Johnson MBA: An Interview with Ann Richards
Leadership, Tech & Forte: IV with a Cornell MBA Student
Johnson at Cornell University 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips

 

MBA/MMM Kellogg Interview with Shriansh: Explaining What Makes Kellogg, Kellogg

Read  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 Shriansh Shrivastava, a student at Northwestern Kellogg’s joint MBA/Masters in Design Innovation program.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent job? Where are you currently studying?

Shriansh: I grew up in India, then moved to the UK for undergrad in electronics and communications at the University of Sussex. After graduation, I worked at Ericsson UK, working with mobile phones and broadband, and also worked in the Ericsson Innovation Scheme. After this, I moved to Canada to work with mobile phone innovations in suicide prevention.

I’m currently attending the Kellogg School of Management, due to graduate in June 2016.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your joint degree? What do you plan on doing with your degrees?

Shriansh: The MMM program at Kellogg has to be the best kept secret in the MBA world. It’s a joint program – you end up with a Kellogg MBA and a Master in Science in Design Innovation from the McCormick/Segal schools at Northwestern.

The biggest misconception about the MMM is that it’s an ‘engineering-y’ program. Not true. Around 50% of my class is from a completely non-technical background! My MS:DI degree is teaching me design thinking: how to approach any problem creatively and differently. So skills I’m going to end up with will be a very creative spin on an already great MBA program. This fits best with my current objective of getting involved with innovation in big tech post graduation.

Accepted: How are you liking Chicago? Do you plan on staying local after you receive your degrees? Any ideas yet where you may be headed?

Shriansh: Chicago’s brilliant. We’re based in Evanston, which is about 20 minutes north of Chicago by the Metra. Evanston’s very self-sufficient, so I actually don’t end up going to Chicago all that much. But it’s an awesome city, of course. The architecture is amazing, the culture’s friendly and the food is awesome. And it’s cold. Very cold. Having spent the last year in Canada, I’m actually comfortable with the weather so far, but my peers from tropical parts of the world are…having fun!

Accepted: Do you have a favorite coffee shop or another nice place where you like to study or hang out with friends? 

Shriansh: We MMMs have our very own exclusive lounge, which is a modern space, well lit, with some sort of creativity always going on. I love hanging out here with my peers. There are actual coffee shops and breakout rooms around campus, of course, but this is the best place to be at, at least for me.

Accepted: Why did you choose Kellogg? Which other programs had you considered? How would you say that you’re a good fit for Kellogg’s program?

Shriansh: For me, it came down to Haas or Kellogg – what both have in common is the extremely cooperative, friendly spirit. Kellogg really embodies this – from day #1, we were thrown into tons of group work – at this time, I’ve completed 9 courses, each with its own team, and have done more coursework in groups than individually. Also a brilliant example: For recruiting, a bunch of us work together on making each other better – we all know we’ll be gunning for the same job, but that ‘competition’ is just not in the picture. For me, it’s important that my peers do well – and vice versa. This lack of any sort of animosity actually makes Kellogg, Kellogg.

Discover free MBA admissions resourcesAccepted: If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be? 

Shriansh: I’d move it to someplace warmer…I’ve heard Hawaii is nice this time of the year…

Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?

Shriansh: I’d like to say Operations, with Professor Chopra. It’s not my favorite, but it’s the one that’s blown my mind the most. I enjoyed Marketing, really enjoyed Research-Design-Build, and Strategy. But ops is a different beast, and portrays concepts you learn in Marketing in a completely different light (e.g. Selling more can end up ruining your business!!).

Accepted: Can you share your top 3 admissions tips with our readers?

Shriansh:

1. In essays and interviews, be clear why you want the second degree and tie it to your goals. If it brings you new skills, say that. If you have the skills and want to practice them in the real world, say so.

2. Saying ‘what people might want to hear’ rather than what’s real will get you into trouble. An interview is a ‘personality fit’ test as much as a competence test. If you fake it, you might even end up in a program, but probably will end up around the type of people you don’t gel with, instantly diluting the value of the MBA.

3. Network, network, network – talk to alumni – LinkedIn is a great resource for this. When I was applying, I spoke to a lot of alums. All Kellogg alums I reached out to were happy to help, which actually factored a lot into my decision. When approaching an alumni or current student, do ask precise and intelligent question. Asking someone “So tell me what Kellogg does” is horribly vague and will probably irritate the person. A better question could be “I’m interested in photography. What do you think the photography club on campus is like? Did you go to events?

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

You can read more about Shriansh’s journey by checking out his About Me page. Thank you Shriansh for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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• Kellogg 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
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Interview with Josh: An Inside Look at the Tepper MBA Family

Read more MBA student interviews here!

“Tepper feels like a family”

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 Josh Howatt, a second-year student from CMU Tepper. (We first met Josh last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)

Accepted: Last we spoke you had just been accepted to Tepper. Can you please bring us up to date? How have you been the last year and a half?

Josh: My time at Tepper has been absolutely fantastic! Currently, I’m pursuing the Management of Innovation and Product Development track, and working with other CMU schools in Engineering, Public Policy, and Design Schools for my Capstone. We’re collaborating on real-life problems with F500 companies and start-ups. It’s great to be putting the tools we’ve learned into practice. Also, I’m concentrating in Marketing, Strategy, and Information Systems – a far cry from where I originally intended in CPG. The curriculum is rigorous and highly quantitative, but also provides its fair share of soft-skill classes, e.g. Managerial Communications, Negotiations. So far, it’s been an amazing (see: challenging) experience.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Tepper?

Josh: My favorite thing about Tepper is that it’s a small program, so the feeling is collegial. It’s absolutely true that if you work at it, you can get to know every single person in your class. This also makes for a great teacher to student ratio. Meaning, there is plenty of opportunity to engage in discussion with your professors outside of the classroom. With regard to the student body, everyone has certain expertise and is more than willing to lend a hand or teach what they know. Tepper feels like a family, and I don’t think you fully realize how true that is until you visit and see it firsthand.

Accepted: Where did you intern this past summer? Can you talk about the process by which you secured the position and how Tepper helped along during the process?

Josh: This summer I interned at Autodesk as a Thought Leadership, Content Marketing Intern. Tepper was instrumental to me landing this position. We have a fantastic COC that allows you to meet with as many counselors as often as you like. Fortunately, I loved my originally assigned counselor from the start. She was fantastic at connecting me with alumni in companies I was interested in, and often times would shoot off an email right then and there during our meetings. The COC is also great in preparing students for the recruiting process; everything from developing your STAR stories, to getting your resumes and cover letters into pristine condition. One of the most helpful parts of the process is the month-long BaseCamp before Mini 1. Not only do you get an opportunity to engage with your future classmates, but you get a jumpstart on the recruitment process, because it starts SO EARLY.

Accepted: Do you have a job lined up yet for next year? 

Josh: I do! I will be starting as a Sr. Consultant for Verizon in their Marketing Leadership Development Program. I can’t even tell you how excited I am!

Accepted: Congratulations on your job with Verizon!

Can you tell us about the difference between “concentrations” and “tracks” at Tepper? How early in your studies do you need to declare these specifications? 

Josh: I would equate concentrations and tracks to undergrad minors and majors. Concentrations are specializations that require completion of 3 elective classes within a certain field (so you could essentially have up to 3 or 4 concentrations). Tracks go much deeper in that they involve completing core specialization classes, and then choosing from specified electives. You typically apply to be part of a track, and choose only one.

Accepted: Are you involved in any clubs on campus? How central to student life is club involvement?

Josh: I’m VP of Technology for our Marketing Club and VP of Marketing for Out&Allied (Tepper’s LGBT club). I’m also a member of our Business&Technology Club and the Public Speaking Club. Club involvement in very central to student life at Tepper. Outside of board duties, at least twice a week I’m participating in a club sponsored event, which is great! There’s always something interesting going on, whether it’s a social event, educational series, or recruiting prep.

Accepted: Do you have any tips to incoming Tepper students? What do you wish you would have known when you were starting out?

Josh: My best advice for incoming Tepper students is: realize you are only human and don’t be so hard on yourself! There’s going to be so much interesting stuff to do, and you’ll want to do it all, but that’s just not possible. I was a huge stress case my first two Minis (my friends will attest to this, and is sort of a running joke now). Get used to saying “no” and learn to prioritize what’s most important to you and your Tepper experience. Between classes, recruiting, social events, club events, corporate presentations, career fairs, and everything else in your life, your head is going to spin. Just know that ahead of time. Find a way to balance school and life. Take time for you. And if you find yourself starting to lose it, just know that there is a Tepper family there to help hold you together.

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 Tepper see:

Thank you Josh for continuing to share your story with us!

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From Rwandan Advertising to Wharton Entrepreneurship: The Unconventional MBA Path

Read more MBA student interviewsThis 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 Mary Patton S. Davis, a first-year 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? Where are you in business school and what year?

Mary Patton: I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, which some may argue is not the South, but I beg to differ. Tampa is culturally Southern in many ways, and most of my family is from Alabama – hence the double name. I moved “up north” to Washington, DC to study French and International Relations at Georgetown University and graduated in 2010. I was always convinced I would work in government and security/intelligence, but life had other plans! That’s how I wound up at Wharton, by way of East Africa, to enter the class of 2016 with a focus on Entrepreneurial Management.

Accepted: Looks like you’ve been doing some really interesting work in Rwanda. Can you tell us about some of your recent jobs and projects there?

Mary Patton: My path to business school has been a very unconventional one. After Georgetown I joined political communications firm GMMB, working on media buying for the 2010 midterm elections and account management for political action committees. In the summer of 2011 I traveled to Rwanda to visit my older sister Elizabeth and the organization she founded in 2009: the Akilah Institute for Women, a three-year college specializing in hospitality, information technology, and entrepreneurship for young women from low-income rural communities. I fell in love with the country and the organization, and Elizabeth asked if I would move there to build their communications and marketing strategy. So I did what any responsible, rational person would do: I quit my job, sold my belongings, and moved to Rwanda in January 2012 for an indefinite period of time. It can take a giant leap of faith outside your comfort zone to discover your true passions, but I believe it’s one worth taking!

I built out Akilah’s marketing and communications throughout that spring and summer. At the same time I had begun teaching horseback riding lessons on the weekends and met the owner of the barn, a well-known expat businessman. One weekend he mentioned he was looking for someone to build a digital marketing department and drive new business development at his advertising agency. My response was, “Interesting, but I can’t think of anyone who fits that description.” He laughed and replied, “No, I want YOU to come in and interview!” You never know where your next job offer will come from…

I began working for the ad agency that summer, and stayed with them for over a year and a half. I became Director of Operations, tackling projects from refining internal processes, to landing new clients, to expanding our digital marketing services. Through this job I realized my passion (and aptitude!) for management, business development, and “intrapreneurship”, which led me to apply for an MBA. Managing a team of twenty-five people at the age of twenty-four impacted me greatly both personally and professionally, and was an opportunity for which I’ll always be grateful.

Accepted: What is your post-MBA career plan? Is it related to your work in Rwanda?

Mary Patton: I came into Wharton with several areas of interest, knowing that my post-MBA career plans would involve some, if not all, of them: Africa, technology, entrepreneurship, and fitness. My passion for fitness and entrepreneurship grew out of a company I co-founded while working at the ad agency: Yego Yoga Rwanda, a chain of yoga studios operating in six locations across Kigali with eleven instructors. I’ve furthered this interest here in the US by continuing to teach yoga and developing several business ideas in that area. For now I’m focused in that direction but who knows, maybe I’ll find a way to pursue all four of these interests!

Accepted: Do you have an internship lined up yet for next summer? If so, what will you be doing and what was the internship application process like at Wharton? If not, what steps are you taking now to plan ahead for the summer? How early does internship recruiting start at Wharton?

Mary Patton: There are many recruiting timelines – it all depends on what industry you’re pursuing. Mature recruiting (mostly for finance and consulting) begins as early as mid-October, while start-up recruiting doesn’t intensify until the spring. I’m personally interested in tech and start-ups so my recruiting hasn’t begun yet, although I’ve had informal offers from tech companies in Africa and start-ups on the West Coast. Right now I’m focused on working on my own business idea, so entrepreneurship is my number one summer internship choice!

Accepted: Can you tell us about your involvement in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?

Mary Patton: I believe it’s important to surround yourself with the type of people and situations that support your long-term goals, so I knew I wanted to immerse myself in the entrepreneurial environment of the WBPC. Given my background, my biggest value-add to the planning committee is in a marketing role. As Director of Marketing my mission is to grow awareness of and engagement with the WBPC both within the Penn community and without. I’m excited to see what this year’s competitors have in store for us, and how the WBPC contributes to future Penn-born businesses! To learn more about the competition, visit us at http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu/.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Wharton so far? Is there anything you’d change about the program?

Mary Patton: My favorite thing about Wharton is how holistic the growth experience has been. Wharton is fully committed to developing students not only academically, but also professionally, personally, emotionally, and socially. All at once, Wharton is exciting and terrifying; rewarding and challenging; social and lonely; invigorating and exhausting; intellectual and obnoxious. Without all of those emotions, you wouldn’t be getting the full experience.

The only thing I would change: I wish there was more interaction between the Penn grad schools. I would love to have more opportunities to meet fellow students from the law, med, engineering, and education schools. I think this would enrich the experience for all of us, and keep us from talking about our econ problem sets and statistics projects all day long!

Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips for applicants aiming to go to Wharton?

Mary Patton:

1)  Be unique.

Admissions officers sift through thousands of applications looking for the diamonds in the rough. Imagine them sitting around at the end of the day recalling and discussing hundreds of essays – how will yours be remembered? When I met Wharton’s Director of Admissions at Winter Welcome Weekend, she exclaimed, “Oh, I remember you! You’re the yoga girl from Rwanda who worked in advertising.” How will your application stand out? What interests/projects/talents/experiences make you unique?

2)  Paint a compelling story.

Regardless of whether your career path is streamlined or as unusual as mine, your application should show progress and a desire to grow professionally and personally. Draw a clear thread throughout your jobs and experiences to demonstrate how you’ve arrived at this point where you feel compelled to apply for an MBA. Did you change jobs to follow your newfound passion for that industry? What extracurricular activities support your interests and show your proactive nature to learn more? How have you challenged yourself and stepped outside your comfort zone?

3)  Be clear about your ambitions.

Now that you’ve explained the narrative behind your career path, be clear about what you plan to do post-MBA. Schools want to see direction not only in your actions up to this point, but also in your goals beyond the MBA. Even if you don’t know the exact job you want three years from now, offering examples of what most interests you in a long-term career helps give schools an idea of how you’ll fit into their MBA class. Make sure to also explain WHY – what problem are you most passionate about solving? Which industry are you most intrigued by? What types of jobs most excite you?

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What role does social media play in your life?

Mary Patton: I started blogging while backpacking through SE Asia and India, but since starting school I’ve pivoted from travel to business-related topics. I naturally identify and write about topics I find interesting; luckily other people find them interesting too! I like to highlight topics that are relevant to my peers – global and industry-agnostic, but with a focus on entrepreneurship and technology.

For me personally, my blog keeps the creative side of my brain alive during the quantitative and analytical MBA experience – my biggest problem is finding time to blog as much as I’d like! Our generation is increasingly social and transparent, so I think it’s important to confront that issue head-on by taking control of your personal brand. My blog is a “stretch experience” for me and connects me to interesting people and opportunities – such as this interview with Accepted.com!

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 Wharton see:

You can read more about Mary Patton’s journey by checking out her blog, MP is for Mary Patton. Thank you MP for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

 

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MBA/MMM Interview with Kellogg Student: Using Empathy to Succeed

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 Michael Nguyễn, a student at Northwestern Kellogg’s joint MBA/Masters in Design Innovation program.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where are you currently studying?

Michael: I was born and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was unfortunately a mediocre student at Cal (UC Berkeley) because I spent a lot of my time playing video games. Thus, even though I started in Computer Science and really enjoyed it, I eventually changed to Comparative Literature (which is actually really difficult – I did not know this when I switched) after a couple of years. However, the time spent in both majors has helped me immensely throughout my career.

I am currently at Kellogg (Northwestern) in its newly revamped MMM program, which is a dual-degree MBA and Masters of Science in Design Innovation program run in conjunction with the McCormick School of Engineering and Segal Design Institute.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your joint degree? What does “Design Innovation” mean? What do you plan on doing with your degrees?

Michael: The MMM program ends at the same time as the normal Kellogg two year MBA program but now starts one quarter early, in the summer. Though this does come with additional cost, this also means you get to enjoy the summer in Chicago! Another great benefit is that you will become very close with your MMM program mates, the other 59 students (the program is limited to 60 per year).

I personally define Design Innovation as an end-user empathy lens for looking at the world, but one that is not just relevant to developing products. If you manage a team, you need to be able to put yourself in team members’ shoes before you can create a rally point. If you are trying to sell a product, you need to know what your target customer is thinking – who they are, why they do what they do. It’s not that someone is just “stupid” or one of “those people” you can generalize. Everyone is unique and design thinking helps you use those lessons in your career.

From my time working in Southeast Asia, I used empathy in order to succeed at creating compelling products for different types of people as well as to win trust and motivate teams despite cultural and language barriers.

After the program, I am looking to return to smaller tech startups or perhaps start my own. However, the range of careers that others in the MMM program are seeking is very broad. Many are looking to enter into consulting, with more top firms now embracing design innovation, but there are also students looking to go into finance, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and technology.

Like the MBA, I think the Design Innovation degree is a toolset you can adapt for any career trajectory. Simply, the Innovation is the change you make in an existing product, process, or organization; the Design is the user-driven approach.

Accepted: It looks like you’ve got an interesting work history! Can you talk about a few of your most recent projects?

Michael: Previous to Kellogg, my professional background for the last decade has been in Business Operations at multiple startups. My first work experience was helping RedOctane become acquired for the Guitar Hero game franchise by Activision. I ran its e-commerce operations, including shipping logistics and customer service.

I then spent 7 years in Vietnam, becoming COO of the first social networking service there, Cyworld Vietnam, a 70 person startup funded by SK Telecom and IDG Ventures Vietnam. During my time in Vietnam, I worked closely with partners such as Nokia, LG, and Yamaha as well as local mobile carrier giants such as Viettel within the restrictions of one of the rare capitalist-socialist governments in the world.

During this time, I co-founded the most popular Vietnamese microblogging service, Mimo.vn, in 2010, helping it grow to 2 million users. Before I left Vietnam, I also worked on another side project which became a dating app called FriendsPlus. It was sold pre-launch to the largest dating service in Vietnam, Noi.vn, and the technology and service concept was integrated into Noi.vn as a whole.

In general, I have a deep interest in how different types of people connect with and add meaning to each other’s lives.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Kellogg so far? 

Michael: When you are in a good class (happens more often than not thankfully), you can compare it to seeing a brilliant performer, whether that be musical, athletic, or theatrical. In many ways, that’s exactly what it is – a professor with a tremendous academic and real work pedigree who is educating you about different aspects of business. Because of this, I actually like to sit in the front to get the best view. After all, I am paying over $60,000 a year for this show!

What most surprised is me how every class links to each other. In a business setting, that wouldn’t be surprising because well, that’s business. If you run a company, you cannot just be a product guy with no understanding of finance and vice versa. But in this class format, you will see each class bring in aspects of the entire MBA education. Thus, if you are taking Finance, you are not asked to just do math. You are asked to think about what firm and market strategies change the math in the real world and how you sell that story to someone else (your boss, management, investors, etc.).

I feel that in every class, you are not challenged to solve the problem but to create and then sell the story so it can be implemented in a company.

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

Michael: In the busy lives of the MBA students here (classes, groupwork, recruiting, competitions), it’s not easy to make deep connections with others in the student body. I think this problem likely exists at many schools, so despite Kellogg’s reputation as a great school to make friends and be around team-focused individuals, no school can create the perfect social setting for everyone.

Thus, if you are an international student or more of an introvert, Kellogg’s emphasis on big social group events may be uncomfortable at times. CIM week can feel like a rehash of your undergrad years where the majority of students solidify their social groups within the first few weeks and do not go outside their comfort zones to befriend people that may be unlike them.

It is something that Kellogg is aware of and looking for initiatives to help address the issue. In fact, a friend and I are working on a mobile product that we hope will help with this and we are looking to get the Kellogg administration’s support for it as well.

Accepted: Looking back at the MBA application process, what would you say was your greatest challenge? How would you advise others who may also be facing that challenge?

Michael: I actually decided to apply to MBA programs two months before Round 1’s began, and I also wanted to make sure I applied for Round 1. This meant I needed to prepare for the GMAT and every other part of the application in a very short amount of time – an MBA was something I had not seriously considered for the previous five years. Fortunately, things worked out, and I got into a great school.

However, others should not follow this route. An MBA program is a very serious time and financial commitment, one that is essentially your last chance to use an academic setting to create a long term impact on how people view you professionally. Do spend the time (at least 1 year in advance) to prepare your applications properly to maximize your chance into getting the program that’s best for you. Beyond that, also use that time to get a proper understanding of which schools you can actually get into.

I am not a big believer in backup schools. If you there is a school you absolutely want to go to, and your background is a good fit for that school, spend the most time on that school. Even if that means working an extra year to improve your professional accomplishments, I say do it!

Accepted: Do you have any other admissions tips for our readers?

Michael: Although we are asked to pretend we know what we want to do after our MBA, few people really do. Because of this, don’t be worried if you really will follow-up on everything you talk about in the application. What’s most important is to think about what you would want to do right now and think through how going to a particular school is well suited to help with those specific goals. I think schools like Kellogg are not judging your ambitions but your ability to construct plans and build towards them.

For Kellogg MMM specifically, it’s a great program that is not getting a lot of publicity right now, likely due to the recent curriculum change. However, I recommend (to everyone) to look at it more closely and talk to people in the program (like myself). Many people I’ve met at Kellogg regret not applying for it because they had misconceptions about the program or thought it wouldn’t be relevant to their career. Once they better understood how the program works, however, they realized its applications were much more broad than the words “Design Innovation” may initially suggest.

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 Kellogg please see:

Kellogg 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, & Tips
2015 Kellogg Executive MBA Admissions Tips

You can read more about Michael’s journey by checking out his LinkedIn profile and his blog, I Spit Hot Fire. Thank you Michael for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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