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 Cheetarah1980, a student at Chicago Booth.
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 non-school book?
Cheetarah1980: I’m from upstate NY, born and raised. I went to Cornell for undergrad and studied Policy Analysis and Management. My favorite non-school book is probably Pride and Prejudice. It’s one of those books I can read over and over again.
Accepted: What was your most recent pre-MBA job? Do you plan on returning to that same industry after you receive your MBA or heading into a new field? What’s your plan?
Cheetarah1980: Prior to business school I worked in sales in the consumer goods industry. I’m not returning to that job. I’ve almost wrapped up an offer to be a Project Director at a prominent non-profit organization where I’ll be working on building cross sector partnerships.
Accepted: Can you talk about your experience applying for jobs? What role did Booth play in the job search process?
Cheetarah1980: Applying to jobs has been a long process because I was looking at non-traditional, niche roles in non-profit and corporate responsibility/sustainability. I received a lot of support from career services in terms of creating a target list, informational interview prep, resumes, networking emails, cover letters, etc.
Through the Booth Social Enterprise Initiative I also gained some valuable experience through a CSR fellowship as well as several great networking contacts that eventually led to job opportunities. It’s important to understand that in more niche career fields no school is really equipped to hand you jobs on a platter. Outside of the recruiting machine companies hire when they need someone. Your best bet is to be building relationships with as many companies as possible so that when opportunities do arise you have positioned yourself for an interview. Career services can help you develop approaches for creating those relationships and give suggestions for companies to target and how to get in touch with people at those organizations.
Accepted: Which other MBA programs did you consider when you were applying to b-school? Why did you choose Booth — how is it the best school for you?
Cheetarah1980: I applied to Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, and Stanford. I got into Booth, Wharton, and Kellogg. I chose Booth because I thought it would give me a social experience outside of my normal comfort zone. I also felt that I would be well supported in pursuing my career goals.
Accepted: If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?
Cheetarah1980: The program itself is great. I do wish Booth had more diversity in terms of students of color. The Black and Latino populations are very small and have been shrinking for several years now. The school could do more to attract and engage minority applicants.
Accepted: Looking back at the MBA application process, what would you say was your greatest challenge? How would you advise other MBA applicants who are facing similar challenges?
Cheetarah1980: Low GPA was my greatest challenge. However, I was 9 years out of undergrad when I applied. I think that having nearly a decade between my career and my undergrad GPA helped tremendously. If other applicants are facing the same issue I recommend doing as well as possible on the GMAT, maybe taking 1-2 classes to create an alternate transcript (if you’re less than 5 years out of undergrad), writing the optional essay, and making sure everything else in your application is top notch. There are very very very very few perfect applicants. Admissions committees are often willing to overlook one flaw if everything else is on point.
Accepted: Can you share a few more admissions tips with our readers?
Cheetarah1980: Be authentic. If you really think about why you’re going to business school and what you want to get out of the experience you should be able to stand out. Use your own unique voice in your essays. And coach your recommenders!!
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 Chicago Booth check out our Chicago Booth 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips.
Thank you Cheetarah1980 for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!