Insights of a Tennis Player Turned Kellogg MBA

Check out the rest of our MBA Student Interview seriesThis 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…introducing Kate Ruckert, a first year student at Northwestern Kellogg.

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 pre-MBA job?

Kate: I grew up in Vienna, Virginia, a suburb just outside of Washington DC. I received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Texas-Austin. I majored in Government and I minored in German. I had a great experience at Texas both in the classroom and on the tennis court. I had some outstanding professors, in particular one of whom is considered an expert on the American Presidency. After graduation, I played professional tennis, competing on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour (WTA Tour). After playing on the tour, I decided that I wanted to pursue other opportunities, prompting me to get my MBA.

Accepted: Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA?

Kate: In order to maximize my opportunity to succeed in “traditional” business, I needed to get an MBA. Building a stronger understanding of business concepts would provide me tremendous value long term. I came to Kellogg with the expectation that I would focus on a career in marketing, with a particular concentration in sports. However, I determined that my strengths were actually better suited for a career in finance. I have enjoyed learning about the market and gaining a deeper perspective for capital budgeting decisions that firms make. I am looking forward to my summer internship as an investment banking associate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. Long term, I hope to have a successful career in investment banking.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your tennis experience? What’s it like to pursue an MBA and a life in the business world alongside your involvement in the WTA?

Kate: Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a professional tennis player. To put so much into a dream and then actually see that dream become a reality was incredibly rewarding to me. I loved the competition, the training, the fitness and of course winning. I think tennis helped me to develop the skills that will serve me throughout my life. From tennis, I gained tenacity, developed a strong work ethic and an inner drive that has helped me flourish at Kellogg.

Accepted: How’s Kellogg going so far? What’s your favorite thing about the program? Least favorite?

Kate: I have loved my experience at Kellogg. I was excited and proud to have been accepted into the Kellogg program. The actual experience is even better than I expected. There are several things that distinguish Kellogg from other business schools, but the primary one is the people. Kellogg students are incredibly collaborative. They really want to help each other be successful. Kellogg students view each other as assets and they are truly interested in learning from one another. As a result my understanding both inside and outside of the classroom has increased tremendously. I came to Kellogg with no formal business training and I have developed a new lens in which to view the world. In addition, I would say one added benefit of pursuing finance at Kellogg is having the opportunity to work with some outstanding finance professors who are genuinely committed to students’ development.

My least favorite aspect of the program related to me and my lack of experience because in some classes they assume a certain level of expertise which I did not have and had to learn. Consequently, in the first quarter I spent a large amount of time learning the basic concepts and terminology and as a result, probably could not be as engaged as others. Now having spent the time to learn the terminology and the concepts, I have become a better participant in the learning experience.

Accepted: Can you recommend a nice coffee shop on or near campus, a good place to study or hang out with friends?

Kate: I actually find that most people tend to study at the Jake (Jacobs Center). I would also recommend studying at the Starbucks in downtown Evanston. It is one of the nicest Starbucks I have ever been to and it is usually fairly full of students busy studying. I would also suggest Pete’s Coffee and Tea for some studying.

In terms of hanging out, I think a lot of people enjoy going to BAT-17, it is a local restaurant/bar that has really great sandwiches and salads. In my second year, I hope to have a little more free time to explore Chicago.

Accepted: What are your top three tips for MBA applicants?

Kate:

1) Be yourself. I think that this is one of the most underappreciated areas for prospective students. Be genuine and don’t be afraid of enthusiasm. I think that admissions teams are looking for bright students who are passionate and the best way to convey that is to let your personality shine through.

2) Talk to students at each of the schools you are applying to. I contacted the Women’s Business Association at every school I applied to and spoke with a female student about her experience in the program. I find that students give the most honest practical advice to prospective students. They are a great resource in understanding the culture of the school and how you might fit into the environment.

3) Research the programs you are applying to and see how those programs fit into your future goals.

In closing, I would advise any applicant to realize the incredible opportunity the MBA program affords, opportunities that most people will never get to experience. While the admissions process is difficult, there will be a tremendous sense of appreciation and pride once you are enrolled in the program.

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 see:

•  Kellogg 2014 MBA Essay Questions & Tips

•  2013 Kellogg Executive MBA Admissions Tips

Thank you Kate for sharing your story with us!

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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Wharton JD/MBA Student Interview with Craig Carter

Download free: Navigating the MBA MazeThis 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 (or in this case, a top JD/MBA program). And now for a follow up interview with Craig Carter, a second-year student at UPenn’s joint JD/MBA program. (We first met Craig last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)

Accepted: How’s your JD/MBA program going so far? Last we spoke, you had just completed your first year and had been involved only in the law school component of the program. How has your impression of the program changed now that you’ve had more exposure to Wharton?

Craig: The program is going great! Unfortunately, time is flying by too fast. In a couple months, my JD/MBA cohort will have completed the first two years.

My impression of the program has been enhanced through the Wharton experience. Business school and law school are two completely different environments and learning experiences. Business school is largely a team-based project oriented education. Whereas, law school is more individualized theoretical learning. The joint-program provides a complementary training that can only be appreciated after experiencing both schools.

Accepted: What was your favorite thing about Wharton? Least favorite?

Craig: My favorite thing is definitely the endless amount of opportunities to pursue – from clubs and conferences to the entrepreneurship center and leadership treks. There is definitely a place for each individual to develop and thrive in their chosen field or area of interest.

My least favorite thing is the size, which is a bit of a gift and a curse. There are about 850 people in each MBA class. The large size is my least favorite because it’s impossible for me to get to know each classmate as well as I would like. On the others hand, the size and scale creates more opportunities for networking, more diversity of experience in the classroom, and a broader alumni network to leverage.

Accepted: Are you feeling any sort of pull towards either law or business? Is there one field that’s drawing you in more than the other?

Craig: I am definitely feeling the pull toward business. The law is interesting, complex, and necessary; however, I will pursue a career in business. I entered the program intending to begin my career in business, but I have certainly gained a greater appreciation for the legal field after these first two years.

Accepted: Do you have an internship lined up yet for this year? If so, what is it and what role did Wharton play in helping you secure that position?

Craig: I will spend the summer in New York interning in J.P. Morgan’s M&A group. Wharton played a huge role facilitating the recruitment process. Between the career management office and the finance club, each student is completely prepared to secure an internship and succeed thereafter.

Accepted: What is your favorite class so far?

Craig: My favorite business school class was a dynamic marketing simulation. The course focused on issues such as the selection of which businesses and segments to compete in, how to allocate resources across businesses, segments, and elements of the marketing mix, as well as other significant strategic issues facing today’s managers in a dynamic competitive environment.

Accepted: With your dual curriculum, do you find you have time for extracurricular activities or for simply hanging out? Can you talk about how you manage the juggling act?

Craig: The dual curriculum does allow for extracurriculars and a lot of fun. However, it is quite a challenge to maintain a presence in both schools. On the social side, there is plenty of time to hang out with friends. At Wharton, people go out every night – who said Monday night can’t be just like Friday night? Law school is a little less aggressive about the party scene, but law students still know how to have some fun.

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

Craig: I am involved in many clubs – affinity, professional, and athletic – at both schools. At Wharton, I am primarily involved with the Black MBA Association, the Finance Club, and Basketball Club. At the law school, I am in the Black Law Student Association, serve on the student government, and represent the student body on the faculty committee.

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

• Wharton 2014 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips

• Wharton Executive MBA 2014 Essay Tips

• What’s Right with Wharton (and How to Get In), a free webinar

• CommonBond: How Two Wharton Grads Revolutionized Student Loans

Thank you Craig for sharing your story with us!

Want to start a business? Partner in a law firm? Go into private equity? Run a media and entertainment company? How about all of the above?

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Classmates, Surfing and a Few More Reasons to Love Stanford GSB

Check out our Stanford GSB Zone page!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, introducing Michał Wiczkowski, a first year student at Stanford Graduate School of Business

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What other degrees do you hold? What is your favorite Polish food?

Michal: I’m Polish. Born and raised in Wroclaw. I moved to Warsaw to study at the Warsaw School of Economics – which I graduated from in 2008. As for food, just like everyone else that has ever tried them, I love the good old Polish ‘pierogi’. They are the best. :)

Accepted: How’s your Stanford GSB experience going so far? Has the program met your expectations? Are there any surprises or things you hadn’t expected?

Michal: As my old P&G boss used to say, it has met my expectations ‘left, right and center’. An amazing mix of great minds from all over the world. I mean, where else would you have a ‘Leadership Lab’ with a group of six people ranging from a TV producer from Ghana, a doctor from Zimbabwe with a Harvard Sc.D, through a PE analyst from China, a Public Finance IB analyst from the US, to a McKinsey consultant from Mexico. And to top it all, a dude from Poland.

Accepted: Which other MBA programs did you apply to? Why did you decide to pursue an MBA in the States rather than closer to home in Europe?

Michal: I applied to 3 MBA programs. I particularly wanted to pursue an MBA at Stanford because of the experiences I had with the program’s Alumni in Europe. I’ve never met people that would invest so much time and effort to help someone, selflessly. I mean, they couldn’t have cared less if I would’ve gotten in. And yet they did go that extra mile to help me. It was a good proxy for what I would find at the GSB. +400.

Accepted: How would you say you’re a good fit for Stanford?

Michal: I think curiosity and a great sense of humor is what I value the most in my classmates. I want to believe I have both of those qualities. Curiosity to challenge things that are sub-optimal or don’t solve a particular problem. And an ability to laugh at myself.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about the GSB? Least favorite?

Michal: Favorite: classmates and surfing. Least favorite: rain in February and March. ;)

Accepted: What was your most recent pre-MBA job? Do you plan on continuing in that industry post-MBA or switching to a new field?

Michal: I had worked in brand management at P&G for 7 years. Loved it, learned a ton, but I came to the GSB with a goal to leverage the proximity of Silicon Valley and to use my marketing skills in the tech industry.

Accepted: What do you miss most about your hometown? And what’s your favorite thing about living in the U.S.? Do you plan on returning back to Poland once you graduate?

Michal: Well I miss my girlfriend for sure. I love the proximity of the ocean and the opportunity to surf (semi) regularly. My plans at the moment reach as far as the next summer. Things change so quickly at the GSB that it’s really hard to tell what I will do in June 2015.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?

Michal: I started the blog in July 2013. Frankly it was a selfish attempt to store my thoughts about the upcoming 2 years of my life, so that in 20 years I can go back, remember all the fun times and laugh at all the ‘serious’ problems I had. :) And if anyone else finds it helpful, interesting or just amusing, that’s even better.

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 Stanford see:

• Stanford GSB 2014 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips.

• Stanford GSB Application Tips Video.

• Stanford Sloan Master’s Program 2013 Application Essay Questions and Tips.

• Steer Your Way to A Stanford MBA, a free webinar.

• What Stanford is Looking for: Personal Qualities and Contributions.

• What Stanford is Looking for: Demonstrated Leadership Potential.

You can read more about Michal’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, WICZKOATSTANFORD.  Thank you Michal for sharing your story with us!

Applying to Stanford GSB? Check out our 2014 Application Essay Tips!

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Hard Work and Humility: Reflections of a UCLA Anderson Student

Check out the rest of the our MBA Student Interviews. We’d like to introduce you to UCLA Anderson student, Jenn Hyman. Read our interview below to hear about Jenn’s MBA adventure – her favorite things about UCLA, the thing she’d like to change about the program, her travels, her new job, and more! Thank you Jenn for sharing your story with us!

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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Favorite non-school book?

Jenn: I am a local girl, born and raised in Los Angeles. I went to UCLA for undergrad and double majored in Economics and Psychology.

Ice cream is not something to be taken lightly. I’d say my favorite flavor right now is anything with Heath Bar, but really when someone is going to give you fresh ice cream on a waffle cone, who am I to complain.

I am, and have always been, a total bookworm. Choosing my favorite book is a tough task, but I would have to say either Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut or The World According to Garp by John Irving.

Accepted: How did you choose UCLA Anderson? Why would you say you’re a good fit with the program?

Jenn: Having gone to UCLA for undergrad, I actually was not sure I would return for grad school. I was focused in on CPG brand management and was looking for programs that would align with this career goal. After some soul-searching, I realized that long term I wanted to settle on the West Coast. So when it came down to it, I was deciding between UCLA Anderson and Kellogg and realized that my opportunities for developing a network on the West Coast were simply greater going to Anderson.

Additionally, a huge factor for me was the people. I spent a lot of time getting to know students, staff and alumni at each school I was applying to, and those from UCLA Anderson just felt like my kind of people. I always say, go to a school where you believe that the person sitting next to you is going to be as successful as you want to be. That is what I felt from those at Anderson, driven individuals who I had faith would soar to great heights, but would excel in their lives the way I wanted to: through hard work and humility.

My fit with Anderson comes from this collaborative environment. I know it sounds unbelievable, but truly, my best friends at Anderson are those I recruited with. We would be competing for the same jobs but would spend hours the night before prepping each other to assure that we each put our best foot forward.

Brilliance comes in many forms, but at Anderson, brilliance is understated, it is a cost of admission and success is defined by collaboration, friendship, hard work and humility. I have never met colleagues who I respect more or who am more honored to call my friends.

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

Jenn: One of the greatest challenges of coming to Anderson is the fact that it is a quarter system school which means we start later than other programs. This means that you need to hit the ground running in fall of your first year because in early October, recruiting is in full swing. My improvement to the program would be more prep work over the summer to assure preparedness for this recruiting effort once it commences.

Accepted: What have been some of your highlights so far during your 1+ years at Anderson?

Jenn: Oh I could talk about this for days! Where to start? I will try to highlight some of my favorite memories:

1) International Travel

Spring Break of my first year, I went on the UCLA Anderson Japan trip which was organized by our Japanese students. This annual trip is a cornerstone of our program where over 100 MBA will take over Japan. We arrived just as the Cherry Blossoms were blooming and spent our entire break immersing ourselves in Japanese culture through Sumo Tournaments, Japanese Baths, Temples, celebrating with locals, touring local companies including behind the scenes at Toyota, eating sushi at 4am at the fish market and many more such memories.

My second year, I traveled with a study course to Chile where we spent a week in country listening and learning from top Chilean leadership in every industry from mining to hospitality to investment banking. The goal was to understand the socio-economic conditions that have contributed to Chile’s stability and success in recent years. The access we were granted was unparalleled. The conversations were fascinating and provided a launchpad for our future international business operations. And don’t forget the opportunity to wine-taste on horseback in the Andes!

2) Classes

I have had some of the most incredible classes I could have imagined upon entering business school. Because we are located in Los Angeles, our access to CEOs and top leadership is unparalleled. It is simply quite easy for these individuals to teach courses or guest lecture in any number of classes in our curriculum.

I took a Crisis Management Course with Bob Eckert, the former CEO of both Kraft and Mattel, in which much of the course was him bringing in guest speakers, like the former CEO of Hershey, CMO of Proctor and Gamble, etc., to teach us how to handle the inevitable crisis that would hit our future career. Currently, I am taking an Entertainment Business Models course taught by CEO of MGM, Harry Sloan, with a similar cadre of high status and well-respected industry personal teaching us about the changing dynamic of Entertainment.

When your classes are taught by the literal experts in the field, your work is all the more relevant and impactful. Often, in many of my classes, our final project will be a real life business issue and our solution will be presented to the clients like the Dodgers, Fandango, Netflix, etc.

3) Social Events

UCLA Anderson has a rich history of social events that keep our students deeply woven into a community. From an annual bike ride from Santa Monica 14 miles south that attracts 200+ students and alumni who stop every few miles to party, to our Casino Night which raised thousands of dollars for charity, to Ander-Prom which is exactly what it sounds like, we have some of the best parties around that speak to everyone’s interest.

I am actually President of the Wine Club and we host bi-weekly events that range from learning about the business of wine, to exploring food pairings or new varietals, to social outings, to weekend trips to local wine regions.

There is nothing better than spending time outside the classroom with new friends. Plus, we have weekly happy hour sponsored by Anderson where every Thursday, we celebrate the end of our week (there is no class on Fridays) with food and a drink on an outdoor lawn. Not many places where outdoor happy hour can exist year round!

Accepted: You landed your dream job at Nestle – congrats! What is your position there? How did you go about securing that job? What role did UCLA play in that process?

Jenn: Thanks! I am super excited! I will be an Associate Brand Manager at Nestle USA. UCLA Anderson is truly the reason I was able to obtain this job. There are a couple reasons for this:

1) Career Center

We have an award-winning career center. From everything behind the scenes with us – getting our resumes ready, interview prep, counseling – to the front end where connections with companies are made, Parker Career Management Center is just incredible. We have relationships with the nation’s top companies that are secured and maintained by Parker to the benefit of our students. They bring so many companies to campus, it sometimes feel like you are able to take your pick.

2) Advising Career Teams (ACT)

Anderson has a unique program whereby second year students coach first year students about how to get their dream job in their various industries. These advising sessions are led by successful second year students in a given industry to help coach first years about what kinds of preparation to be doing, how to start thinking like a professional in a given industry, what companies are looking for, etc. These teams help make our students the most prepared possible walking into any recruiting environment.

3) Professional Clubs and Events

Our professional clubs take over where our career center leaves off and does training, interview preparation and countless recruiting events for students. They provide access to companies through on-campus events, days on the job (where students attend recruiting events at the host company) and treks to various cities to meet different companies.

Through all these three avenues, I was able to become the best marketer I could be. I also was able to meet Nestle and fall in love with the company. The preparation and access all I could have hoped for and secured my success in my future career.

Accepted: Looking back, what would you say was the hardest stage of the b-school application process for you? How did you go about overcoming that challenge?

Jenn: I found the whole thing quite challenging. However, the most challenging part was truly understanding why I wanted to get my MBA. I wanted to understand for myself why the investment was worth it for my career. What was I actually planning on doing? Was that the right career path for me?

To answer this question, it was really 1 part talking to a whole lot of people and 2 parts soul searching. I talked to anyone who I thought was tangentially related to what I wanted to do and peppered them with questions about their day-to-day, aspirations, etc. Then I spent a lot of time thinking about what about my last position fulfilled me and what more I was looking for. Was my dream job at the end of a b-school application? What did I want to do in 5 years? 10? In some ways, I am still answering that question and had to take a leap of faith to complete my application. However, in many ways, the soul-searching I did when completing my application made my essays more honest, passionate and heartfelt. Not to mention, it gave be focus and direction upon starting my MBA. So as hard as it was, it was truly all worth it in the end.

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 UCLA see our UCLA Anderson 2014 MBA Application Questions, Tips.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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From Psychology to the Media Industry, Strat and Harvard B-School

Check out our Harvard Business School Zone!We’d like to introduce you to Jyll Saskin, a graduate of Harvard Business School’s inaugural 2+2 Program. Read our interview to learn about some of Jyll’s favorite things about HBS, as well as advice for incoming and future b-school students. Thank you Jyll for sharing your story with us!

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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

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

Jyll: I was born and raised in Toronto – I’m a very proud Canadian! I studied Psychology and Child Development at Tufts, Class of 2009, and was really involved in student media. I wrote for the Tufts Daily, and served as both Chief Copy Editor and Chief Op-Ed Editor during my tenure there. I also wrote for the Tufts Observer and co-founded a fashion magazine.

While in college, I worked as a Fashion Editor for TheCampusWord.com, a now-defunct start-up that was this great news source by and for college students; the founders pivoted the site into what is now BostInno.com, a great website about all things innovation in Boston. When I entered college, I thought I’d graduate and become a psychologist, but I quickly learned that, while I love studying psychology, I wasn’t interested in the lifestyle and work culture that came with practicing it.

The inaugural year of the 2+2 Program was announced right at the time I was debating the whole, “What do I want to do with my life?” thing, so I applied and, much to my amazement, was accepted.

As for my favorite non-school book, it’s definitely got to be the Harry Potter trilogy. Book Three, if I had to pick just one. I re-read the series every summer; I was relieved when they were finally released in e-book format!

Accepted: Congrats on your recent MBA! What was your favorite thing about Harvard Business School?

Jyll: What a hard question! I’d have to go with the clichéd answer and say “the people.” There are all of these stereotypes about how b-school students are either really high strung, competitive and backstabbing, or fratty d-bags, and it’s just not true. I’m actually so in awe of the work that admissions does, because they put together a class of people who are obviously smart, but more than that, really driven and interesting and interested in so many different things.

I really miss having case discussions every day, getting the opportunity to learn from and (politely) debate with this wildly diverse group of fascinating people. You can’t replicate that elsewhere. It’s once-in-a-lifetime.

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

Jyll: Well, if I could change anything, then I would make the program three years instead of two. This is purely for selfish reasons. The first year is entirely required curriculum, and the second year is elective curriculum. I spent my second year at HBS taking all of those courses that interested me most, generally in strategy. I wish I’d had another year so I could have delved farther outside my comfort zone and taken courses like Entrepreneurial Finance and Real Estate Development.

Yes, that’s a copout answer. It’s all I’ve got! #sorrynotsorry

Accepted: Where did you work before starting HBS? How did the 2+2 Program help you prepare and transition to HBS’s regular program? As a 2+2 participant, did you feel “different”? Finally, are you glad you participated in 2+2?

Jyll: I held two jobs before starting at HBS. First, I was an Editorial Assistant in the teen division at Bauer Publishing, a magazine company.

Unfortunately, the magazine that I worked for folded after I’d been there for a year, so I moved home to Toronto and landed a job in corporate strategy at McCain Foods, a global frozen foods company.

They were two very different experiences, but I was grateful for both perspectives before starting my MBA.

I loved being a part of the 2+2 Program. I was part of the inaugural class, and we had these wonderful summer programs where we got to meet each other and take special classes with HBS professors.

Unfortunately, that part of the program has been phased out, so now the 2+2 Program is really just the grad school equivalent of Early Admission. Once we enrolled, we were just like everybody else in the MBA program – same classes, same activities, same everything.

The only different was that the 2+2 participants all knew each other from the summer programs, and we were the youngest students in the class. I think that there was a bit of stigma attached to the 2+2 label because of that, but honestly, it had more to do with people’s own insecurities in the first few months than anything else. Once we got into the groove with our sections, you pretty much forgot who was the youngest or the oldest because it ceased to be the most salient thing.

Accepted: What is your current job? What role did HBS play in helping you secure that position?

Jyll: I’m currently a Manager in Project Leadership at Scratch, a division of Viacom. If a strategy consulting firm and an advertising agency got together and became experts in all things Millennial, you’d get Scratch. It’s this great mix of left-brain and right-brain problem solving for clients as diverse as General Motors, Hilton and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

HBS definitely played a part in helping me secure this position. I was networking my butt off the summer before last, trying to meet as many HBS alums working in digital/strategy/media as I could. One connected me to someone else, who then connected me to Scratch. Also, two of our most senior people at Scratch are HBS alums, so having that common ground made me feel much more confident going into those interviews.

And now the cycle continues, as I connect current HBS students who are interested in working in this industry.

Accepted: Can you talk more about how you plan on transforming the media/entertainment industry?

Jyll: It’s a lofty goal, isn’t it? The media industry is transforming, with or without me. What really interests me is how you teach old dogs new tricks, how you take legacy media companies and help them transition their business models to not just survive, but thrive.

Throughout my second year at HBS, I worked on an independent project solving that exact problem, but on a much smaller scale: for The Harbus, HBS’ student newspaper. I worked with the staff, my professor and industry experts to put together an analysis and business plan for The Harbus, diversifying its revenue and exploring new audiences and channels and products. It had been so focused on cutting costs, that it wasn’t investing for future growth.

I’m still in close touch with the General Manager at The Harbus, and they’ve started implementing many of my suggestions, often making them better by putting their own twist on things.

So, that’s been very rewarding for me to see, and I know that a lot of the things I did and am doing with The Harbus would be highly transferable to larger news and/or entertainment organizations. It’s an ongoing interest and passion of mine.

Accepted: What are some things you wish you would’ve known before starting b-school? Can you share some advice on this topic with our readers?

Jyll: I wish I had taken some time off before starting business school. It’s a crazy two years, and I went straight from my job into school; my brain could have used some rejuvenation!

At b-school, for the first few months, I kept having to tell myself that I was not some sort of admissions mistake. It’s challenging, you’re in a new environment, learning new things, meeting new people, and everyone goes through that mindset of, “Why am I here? I don’t belong here!” Just know that you’re not alone, everyone feels that way, you do belong and by second semester, you’ll be smooth sailing.

Lastly, I’ve alluded to this earlier, but I do have a twinge of regret that I didn’t push myself harder academically while I was at HBS. I stuck with classes that I loved, which was great because I loved them, but I do feel as if I wasted an opportunity to try some new things.

I would encourage people to keep their electives as broad as the required curriculum, so you can take advantage of everything your MBA program has to offer.

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 Harvard see:

• Harvard Business School 2014 MBA Essay Questions & Tips
• HBS Post-Interview Reflections, a video
• The Accepted Guide to Getting into Harvard Business School, a free webinar.
• What HBS is Looking for: Engaged Community Citizenship
• What HBS is Looking for: The Habit of Leadership

Check out our Harvard B-School Application Essay Tips!

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IV with a Current Duke MBA Pursuing a Career in Healthcare

Learn more about Duke.Here’s a talk with Steven Ma, a student at Duke Fuqua pursuing a career in the healthcare sector. Read on for Steven’s thoughts on the Duke experience, and don’t forget to check out his blog, From Bench to Board. Thank you Steven for sharing your story with us!

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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

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?

Steven: I was born in China but spent most of my life, and all of my professional life, in the US. I studied biology in undergrad at Oregon State University and graduated in 2010. One of my recent favorite books is Billion Dollar Molecule by Barry Werth.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Duke? Least favorite thing?

Steven: My favorite thing about Duke is its ambition. Fuqua is a relatively young business school compared to its peers. It focuses on developing students’ individual passions, whatever they may be, and encourages students to pursue diverse goals. For example, I’m currently on a team participating in the National Cancer Institute/Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Startup Challenge and the support we’ve gotten from the faculty here has been phenomenal. Duke is also building its global presence by opening campuses around the world, including China, UAE, Singapore, just to name a few. Duke is very global and I feel fortunate for the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader here.

There really isn’t anything to complain about Duke. I guess if I thought really hard I’d say that parking can sometimes be difficult and that there is no dinner at the Fuqua cafeteria.

Accepted: Do you have an internship lined up for the summer yet? If so, what role did Fuqua play in helping you secure that position?

Steven: I’m currently in the recruiting process for the summer internship, and will begin interviewing in the next few weeks. Fuqua has been instrumental in attracting the leading health care companies to campus and for establishing strong alumni relationships at these firms.

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

Steven: I’m currently on the cabinet for the Health Care Club and have participated in the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, Outdoors Club and Tennis Club events. Fuqua is very student-run, so club experiences have been central to my MBA experience. Along with a handful of classmates, I helped to organize Fuqua’s annual Health Care conference this year and it was very fulfilling to serve the student body and take ownership of our educational experience.

Accepted: What are your post-MBA plans?

Steven: My post-MBA goal is to work in a commercial role at a biotech or pharma company within a leadership rotation program.

Accepted: Can you recommend a nice spot to study on or near campus?

Steven: The Fox Center at Fuqua is a fantastic place to meet and study. It has got big windows with lots of light, so it feels very warm in the winter, even when it’s 10 degrees F outside.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your blog? Who is your target audience? What do you hope they’ll gain from your blog?

Steven: My blog is entitled, From Bench to Board, and my goal is to help folks who are interested in transitioning into the biotech and pharma industries. I blog about my Duke MBA experience and how it has aided in my transition, so it should be helpful for anyone who is interested in the life sciences industry. I hope that by sharing the books and experiences that have helped me along the way, I can also help many more make the transition.

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 Duke see our Duke Fuqua 2014 MBA Essay Questions & Tips.

Listen to our recent podcast interview with June Kinney: Healthcare Management at Wharton and at Large.

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Tim Eisenmann: Stanford GSB Student, Blogger, and World Traveler

Check out or Stanford GSB B-School ZoneHere’s a talk with Stanford Graduate School of Business student, Tim Eisenmann – a world traveler with a unique work history, set out to impact his surroundings and change the world! Read our interview below to hear about Tim’s experiences at Stanford, and then check out his blog, From PA to the World, for more info. Thank you Tim for sharing your story with us!

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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

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 before you started b-school?

Tim: I was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany. Starting with my high school exchange to the US when I was 15 I have always put a lot of emphasis on changing the environment around me which has led to me living in Germany, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Poland and Rwanda.

Connecting people and facilitating transportation has always fascinated me, which was one of the reasons why I joined Lufthansa, the biggest European airline group, right after undergrad.

Most recently I was working on post merger integration issues and long-term sales strategy.

Accepted: On your blog you say that you’re searching for new inspirations for what to do in the future. Does that mean that you’re stepping away from aviation? Do you plan on entering a new industry? What do you plan on doing post MBA?

Tim: Honestly, I don’t fully know what I want to do. That’s one of the reasons I am at Stanford. Being with bright, motivated students from all over the world gives you exposure to a lot of different industries and functions. There are a few characteristics that my job after b-school needs to have though: international travel, a high performance team and the potential for large scale impact.

Stanford is doing a great job of providing opportunities in a lot of fields: be it through introductions to social entrepreneurs in Africa, meeting McKinsey partners for lunch or connecting you to VCs that might be interested in your start-up idea. I really feel that the world is you oyster in Palo Alto.

Accepted: Which other business schools had you considered? Why did you choose a U.S. program over one closer to home? 

Tim: Education is free in Germany, so most of my friends questioned my decision to spend tons of money on an MBA from a US school. I still feel I am making the right choice though. With an MBA one buys a network, a brand name and generalist business skills. For me it was always clear that especially for the first two factors one has to get an MBA from a top school in the US, which is why I applied to HBS and the GSB.

Accepted: Why did you choose Stanford GSB? How would you say you’re a good fit for that program?

Tim: There really isn’t a “good fit” at Stanford. I feel that I am like no one else in my class, but still there is the desire to change the world we live in and to have a lasting impact that resonates with most of us in some way.

Once I had offers from HBS and the GSB I realized that most doors in my future would be opened and it boiled down to where I felt I could become a better manager and grow as a person.

Given the small class size, the collaborative atmosphere and the strong emphasis on leadership, I figured that the GSB was the right place for me. And the constant sunshine doesn’t hurt either. :-)

Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?

Tim: I am taking a course called “Design for Sustainable Abundance” at the design school this quarter. The design school focuses on human centered approaches to problem solving through design thinking. All classes in the d.school have MBAs, engineers, med school students and scientists work together on real life problems. In our case it is redesigning parts the food system to be more sustainable. We get 24/7 access to a playground for adults including a craft room, movable walls for sticky note brainstorming sessions and a microwave for late night ramen noodles.

Accepted: Can you talk about your internship in Kigali? And do you have an internship lined up for this coming summer yet?

Tim: After quitting my job at Lufthansa I felt like something totally different before b-school. Stanford connected me to a social entrepreneur (also a GSB grad) in Rwanda who tries to fight malnutrition by developing mushroom cultivation through an outgrower model in northern Rwanda. I got to work on the export to Uganda and Burundi, as well as on forming a Joint Venture with a Spanish partner to set up a lab for mushroom tissue replication. Yes, fairly random, but immensely exciting and a great learning experience to work with a small team in a challenging environment. If you want to learn more: Kigali Farms is always looking for motivated interns!

Regarding next summer, recruiting is already at full speed on campus. I am currently thinking about splitting my summer between two internships. One more traditional one doing management consulting in London or New York and the other one exploring more opportunities in the food processing sector in East Africa. Maybe not mushrooms, but mangos this time…

Accepted: Looks like you’re passionate about travel – how do you plan on fitting that into your future plan?

Tim: Over the course of the last years I have managed to each year spend at least 100h on a plane. I really enjoy having time for myself during the flight, then exploring new cultures and meeting new and old friends. Optimally, in the future I have a job that requires me to travel, but gives me the free time to actually explore the place that I am in. But with family in Germany, an interest in East Africa and a network of friends all around the world I am sure that I won’t ever experience a lack of travel opportunities.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?

Tim: Since I don’t really have the time any more to write individual emails to family and friends I thought a blog would be right medium to keep everyone up to date. After a while I realized that I don’t have 1000+ friends, so there have to be some others that read my blog. It is great to know that my experiences can maybe help applicants or admits to make the right decision for themselves. I can only encourage everyone to check out my blog and leave a comment in case of questions. I’ll promise to answer them, because if they teach us one thing at the GSB it is that people development is the key to success and I’d be happy to see a lot of you at Stanford in the next couple of years.

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 Stanford see:

• Stanford GSB 2014 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips

• Stanford GSB Application Tips Video

• Stanford Sloan Master’s Program 2013 Application Essay Questions and Tips

• Steer Your Way to A Stanford MBA, a free webinar.

• What Stanford is Looking for: Personal Qualities and Contributions

• What Stanford is Looking for: Demonstrated Leadership Potential

Check out the recording of our popular webinar "Steer Your Way to a Stanford MBA"

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An IE Grad Reflects on Spain, School, and Career Searching

Get a copy of our free report - 'MBA Admissions A-Z'!Here’s a talk with IE Business School graduate, Allison Holmes, who has lived, studied, and worked throughout the U.S. and Europe. Read on to learn about Allison’s international b-school journey, as well as her thoughts on living in Spain, attending a one-year program, and finding a job. Thank you Allison for sharing your story with us!

This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students and recent grads, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where and when did you receive your MBA? Do you hold any other degrees? What is your favorite flavor ice cream?

Allison: I’m originally from Dexter, Michigan. It’s a small town outside of Ann Arbor, so I grew up a Wolverine, which came in handy when I then got my BBA from the Ross School of Business at Michigan!

After that, I spent about 8 months in London working for an American consulting company in internal HR and then moved to Madrid, Spain where I lived for 6 years and got my MBA at IE.

My favorite ice cream is a tie between Mint Chocolate Chip and Mackinac Island Fudge.

Accepted: How did you choose IE? How would you say you were a good fit for the program?

Allison: I chose IE because it had a great reputation and I was drawn to the diversity of the student body. Also, they offer family business focused electives which I found very interesting. I think my years of ex-pat experience and my interest in how culture affects business helped me to excel in IE’s International MBA program.

Accepted: What was your favorite thing about IE? Least favorite?

Allison: My favorite thing about IE was the network of people that I gained from it. To this day they are some of my closet friends, and no matter where I go in the world I know I have a friendly couch to crash on.

My least favorite part about IE is something systemic to Spain, administrative process can be unnecessarily complicated and very slow.

Accepted: What would you say are some of the plusses and minuses of attending a one-year MBA program versus a two-year MBA program?

Allison: The biggest plus of a one-year program is that you are not out of the working world for as long, which for most means less time without a paycheck. In terms of minuses, I guess I’d say that you don’t get as much down time as you would in a two-year program.

Accepted: How would you compare the attitude towards business education in the States with the attitude in Europe (or Spain in particular)?

Allison: I haven’t really noticed much of a difference. I think in both areas MBAs are starting to be seen as the norm rather than the exception in business arena.

Accepted: What was your experience with IE’s career services department? What is your current job?

Allison: My experience with their career services department was not very positive. The office in Madrid is very small and they have yet to establish strong relationships with relevant recruiters. That being said, the alumni network is very strong and many people get their jobs through those connections.

I am currently working for IE in student recruitment and got the job after making connections at a local alumni event.

Accepted: Can you recommend a cozy coffee shop or library on or near campus that you used to study at and would recommend?

Allison: The best place to study in Madrid is the Retiro Park. It’s close to school, and with the great weather in Spain we would often grab a few things at any one of the neighborhood grocery stores along the way and have study picnics there.

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 IE see:

• IE 2014 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
• 2012 IE Business School MBA Admissions Q&A with Jean-Marie Winikates and Nita Swinsick

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

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From Music to MBA: IV with a Notre Dame Mendoza Student

Check out our 2014 Notre Dame application essay tips!

I was a total Type-A hiding out in the world of fine arts.

Here’s a talk with Notre Dame Mendoza student, Jessica Bonanno, a second-year student with lots of advice to share about life at Mendoza – competitions, courses, and culture. Of particular interest to ND applicants will be Jessica’s application tips and her definition of the ideal Mendoza student. Thank you Jessica and best of luck to you!

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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

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

Jessica: I grew up in Central Florida and got my degree from a small liberal arts school called Rollins College, where I studied classical piano and music education. During my senior year, I started a small music program for kids which became very successful in its mission and was my full time job for about eleven years, until I decided to apply to b-schools.

Accepted: Can you talk more about your involvement with music? Is there a connection between your work as a musician and an educator and your MBA?

Jessica: I always think it’s funny when folks ask me how I went from music to business because it’s much more typical, indeed clichéd, for folks working in the corporate world to feel mismatched and dream of being an artist or a musician. But I am the opposite: I was a total Type-A hiding out in the world of fine arts.

Yes, I majored in music and went on to found an after-school music program. Yes, I ran a non-profit trade association for music teachers and I even managed a rock band. But, all along, I knew deep down that I wasn’t truly a musician on the inside. Music was just something I knew, which became a conduit for me to serve others and express my creativity. The reason my initiatives succeeded was less about my musical knowledge and much more about my entrepreneurial nature and inclination toward designing efficient systems to support innovative ideas or worthy missions.

It took me many years to realize this but, when I finally did, I knew getting an MBA would help me take my natural organizational development talent to the next level and give me some hard skills to back up my leadership ability.

Accepted: Why did you choose Notre Dame Mendoza? How would you say you’re a good fit with the program?

Jessica: Notre Dame was the very first program I ever looked at, after deciding to apply to business school. Coming from mission-driven organizations, I had a lot of apprehension about applying to business school. I knew my interest in social enterprise would not be the norm in any b-school but, at a minimum, I wanted to find a program that supported a critical examination of the role of business in society and promoted discussions about the intersection of business and ethics.

Notre Dame was that program.

This doesn’t mean that everyone here is interested in social business, like me. To the contrary – only about a fifth of my class plans to pursue this type of a career. But even if everyone isn’t interested in an expressly social career, nearly everyone in the program is interested in expressing their own personal values in their career choices. And though this means different things for different people and we sometimes disagree among ourselves, you’ll never find anyone here who would argue that it’s ok to succeed in business at the expense of others. I expected to find an overemphasis on profit at any cost at b-school but, instead I have found that nearly every MBA topic at ND is examined through an ethical lens. The curriculum is refreshingly holistic.

Accepted: What have been some of your favorite classes so far at ND?

Jessica: I set two personal goals for my MBA experience: First, I wanted to become really, really knowledgeable and skilled in the areas that I already knew something about, such as organizational leadership and social business. Second, I wanted to learn a brand new area that I knew absolutely nothing about, so I selected finance and investments.

On the social side, I’ve been privileged to take courses like Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries, which is coordinated through our Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship (a fantastic resource for aspiring entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs alike). This spring, I’ll be participating in one of our program’s signature courses called Business on the Frontlines, in which students work as real-world consultants for businesses in post-conflict regions or developing economies. My team will be traveling to Guatemala to work with an agricultural cooperative.

On the finance side, I’ve been able to study topics like M&A and International Finance under expert practitioners and, this spring, am looking forward to participating in the elite Applied Investment Management (AIM) program, in which my team and I will be responsible for managing a portion of our school’s endowment.

Other highlights of my time at Mendoza include studying for 8 weeks in Santiago, Chile, writing an original case study (pending publication) for the Fanning Center for Business Communications, and competing for thousands of dollars in start-up capital in the McKloskey Business Plan competition.

But none of this compares to the sense of community. The people are what make Notre Dame special. Here’s a blog post I wrote about what it’s like to be a student in such a close-knit and amazing community.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your competition experience – both with the ND Deloitte Interterm Case Competition and the BYU Social Innovation Case Competition?

Jessica: You’ve probably heard that case competitions are considered the varsity sport of b-school. They’re a chance to consolidate the sum of your professional experience and business training to solve a real business problem in a short time, while competing against other very talented people to create the best solution.

I’ve had the pleasure of competing in three case comps and they’ve been some of the most fun I’ve had during my MBA. Most case comps are time constrained, requiring a full solution to a challenging case in under 5 days. The process is extremely intense and involves a lot of all-nighters and last-minute preparation, which can stress out a team that doesn’t have a commitment to humility, cooperation and kindness. But the amount that can be accomplished in this time is astounding, when you have a group of diverse, brilliant students with a do-or-die work ethic and an attitude of good sportsmanship, the signature trait of a Notre Dame MBA.

My teams took first place in two of the three case comps I’ve participated in, which made the fun of competition all the more rewarding. The Deloitte Interterm Case Competition is actually a part of the first-year curriculum – all students participate and we compete among other Notre Dame MBAs. The BYU Social Innovation Case Comp is an annual competition sponsored by BYU’s Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance. Notre Dame actually sponsored our team and flew us out to Utah, where we had the privilege of meeting some amazing MBAs from other schools. As part of the festivities, we even got to participate in an all-day TED-X event.

Accepted: What has your involvement with the Forte Foundation been like? Would you recommend the program to other b-school-bound women?

Jessica: I’m very supportive of Forte’s mission to bring more women into business leadership. However, the companies that they work with, many of which are large banks, aren’t necessarily a match for my own interests so I haven’t become too involved with the foundation. Regardless, I think they’ve created an amazing resource for women who are seeking more traditional business careers, which is a positive thing for women as well as for society, in general. Research shows that women business leaders tend to take less unnecessary risks and are much more concerned with the role of business in society…And the world needs more of that.

Accepted: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

Jessica: My professional interests include a variety of social business topics including cooperatives, social enterprise, and impact investing. But I’m seeking a career in the socially responsible investment space because my background in non-profit and education taught me that that’s where the greatest need is. There are plenty of brilliant people with brilliant ideas in the social space but there is a shortage of socially-oriented professionals who understand how to raise capital, create sustainable revenue models, or maximize a shoestring budget. That’s the value I hope to provide, perhaps as the manager of an impact fund.

Accepted: What are your three top tips for ND Mendoza applicants?

Jessica:  1. In my observations, Notre Dame is looking for mature, honest candidates who have a record of accomplishment, a strong work ethic, and a balanced lifestyle. This community encourages excellence not only in academics and professional background, but also excellence of body, mind, spirit, and citizenship. Make sure that your essays and interview answers reflect the things about you that demonstrate this. Talk about your accomplishments and your values. Talk about your ambition and your family or community. Most importantly, don’t act entitled. Humility is the hallmark of the type of servant-leader that Notre Dame is looking for.

2. Notre Dame wants you to want them. Our program has chosen to remain small to preserve the type of close-knit community that makes us unique. For that reason, admissions officers will be impressed by candidates who can clearly articulate why they think they are a match for ND. So, find out by reaching out to current students or scheduling a campus visit. Most people don’t truly understand and can’t explain what makes Notre Dame so special until they’ve been there or interacted with the people. Once they have, they can craft a much more convincing argument for why they belong at ND.

3. Take advantage of all application rounds. Unlike some top schools, who fill most of their class in rounds one and two and have few seats left open in spring, Notre Dame admits a good number of candidates in every round. So, if it’s late in the year and you’re trying to decide whether to apply or wait for fall, go ahead and do it! As long as you have a strong application, your chances will still be good even late in the year.

Accepted: Last but not least, who would you say is the ideal ND student?

Jessica: I would suggest that Notre Dame’s MBA program is a good fit for anyone who has good qualifications but who is also interested in:

• a traditional business career (finance, consulting, etc) but who wishes to express either personal or religious values in their career; or

• social enterprise or an impact career; or

• entrepreneurship generally; or

• the emerging field of business analytics (we just developed a concentration in this field); or

• Business Communications (our Fanning Center for Communications is very well-known).

ND is also very military friendly and is good for anyone who is married or has a family (the grad school is extremely supportive of young families and couples and has many resources, activities, and housing options available).

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 Notre Dame Mendoza, see Notre Dame Mendoza 2014 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips.

Download Free: MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

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An NUS MBA Shares her Story

MBA Interview: The MBA StoryWe’d like to introduce you to The MBA Story, an anonymous blogger who recently received her MBA from NUS Business School in Singapore. Read our interview with The MBA Story below, as well as her blog, The MBA Story, to learn about this recent grad’s unique story.

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?

The MBA Story: I am originally from India and not surprisingly, I have a typical profile similar to most Indian applicants :). I did my undergrad in Electronics and Communications Engineering from an institute that ranks among the top 10 engineering schools in India.

Since I decided not to pursue my interest in Communications, I moved on to work with software products at SAP Labs for around 3 years. Realising that I was keen to learn about the business side of things, it became very natural for me to pursue a degree in Management. Incidentally I was recommended very early in my career by my first boss to look at Management for furthering my career.

My favorite flavor of ice cream changes over time. It has been different versions of dark chocolate for a very long time but these days I am equally inclined towards berry flavours!

Accepted: Where did you attend b-school?

The MBA Story: I have graduated from NUS Business School after completing my full-time course and majoring in Strategy.

Accepted: How did you choose NUS? How would you say you were a good fit with that program?

The MBA Story: Honestly I had planned to apply to business schools over a 2 year time-frame. I would be looking at Asian schools for the first year and non-Asian schools in the next. I looked at the top 3 schools and NUS was right among them.

NUS looks for well-rounded students with a good mix of academics and work-experience. It helps when applicants have additional interests as it can bolster their applications. They also keenly try to figure out how well you would contribute to the class and student community. Most importantly, MBA at NUS is slightly tinged by a focus on the Asia-Pacific. That itself has been a great aspect for me because other than gaining specific knowledge and experience, the Oriental focus on practicality and humility helped to keep myself grounded throughout my studies and post-MBA career.

Accepted: Did you only apply to Asian b-schools? Which other programs did you apply to?

The MBA Story: Yes I did apply to only Asian schools in my first year of applying to business schools. Apart from NUS, I also applied to Indian School of Business, HKUST MBA and IUJ GSIM. I also wanted to apply to AIM but opted out at the last moment due to some feedback on placement services.

Accepted: What did you like best about living/studying in Singapore? What did you like least?

The MBA Story: There were a lot of great things about Singapore, including the great support from our MBA Office. Life was easier thanks to them. In fact, the MBA office and my friends have been the best part of studying at Singapore. It helps to stay in a foreign country which has great public infrastructure, security and support. Singapore scores very strongly there. There are also few benefits for students which help a lot, since they manage to lower your overall expenses.

The worst part would have to be the high cost of food and stay. Being post-graduate students, we could not take advantage of the lower cost housing at school which was offered to few select married students. We had to stay near the school and spend on higher rentals, travel to and fro from school. Although Singapore is a food lover’s delight, it is still quite expensive compared to a lot of countries including my own.

Accepted: Did you stay in Singapore/Asia after you graduated?

The MBA Story: I did plan to stay in Singapore after my graduation. I was going to start off working with P&G Singapore. However life had other plans. I returned to India for personal reasons and continued to stay and work here.

Accepted: What was your experience with NUS’s career services department? What role does the school play in helping students (and you specifically!) find internships/jobs?

The MBA Story: The experience with Career Services has been a mix for me and quite a few of my friends. They do work with the students and try to help them find jobs and internships. They also each out to alumni from time to time to connect and seek help. However, there is a variety of reasons why the results are still not as great as we would want them to be. However, being low on expectations and high on self-efforts helps a lot. I had 3 job offers when I passed out (graduated) during the recession, so nothing is impossible.

Accepted: What would you say are your top three tips for b-school applicants?

The MBA Story: The most important thing for a b-school applicant is to know why s/he is on this journey. Unfortunately an MBA is not only a 1 year or a 2 year destination with the dream job in the final semester. It is part of a journey and it helps you to chart one for yourself.

 Why are you pursuing a MBA? If you don’t have a one line answer (typically a sentence or 2 at most ) to this , chances are that your reasons are not clear or strong. On the other hand, if you are very clear about this, rest of the nitty gritty details fall in place.

• Research, research and more research: You need research to figure out which school you would like to go to, which school you can afford to go if scholarship doesn’t work out, which school has an amazing alumni, etc. The process never stops and continues well into the interview process. Get into the habit and it will help you through b-school including those 1 minute sudden conversations with people who could be possible recruiters.

• Money matters: It is highly important that you have financial estimates worked out for each of the schools you plan to attend. While it would be great to land that scholarship, you should have Plan B worked out. Also, you should not miss out on a slightly lower-ranked school because the finances did not work out on the ones you shortlisted and were accepted.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com. MBA admissions tips for Indian applicants. Download Free! Accepted.com