Prioritizing at an All You Can Eat Buffet: UNC Kenan-Flagler Student Interview

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 Alex Dea, second-year student at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent pre-MBA job? 

Alex: I was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and went to Boston College in Chestnut Hill, to study business and theology. Upon graduation from BC, I joined Deloitte Consulting and spent three years in the Boston office. At Deloitte, I advised clients on how to use digital technology to transform their business strategy and operations. After three years at Deloitte, I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in August 2013 to attend the University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler).

Accepted: Why did you choose UNC Kenan-Flagler? How would you say it was the best fit program for you? Which other schools had you considered? 

Alex: First and foremost, it was the people and the culture. I visited UNC and spoke to a handful of students, faculty and administrators and walked away feeling like these were the people I would want to work with and support. Furthermore, they seemed like people who wanted and were willing to support me. People at UNC Kenan-Flagler understand that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and when someone achieves success it can be good for everyone.

Secondly, it was the leadership opportunities. I came to business school because I wanted to accelerate my development in becoming the leader I thought I was capable of becoming and was very impressed on the leadership development opportunities at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Lastly, it was the curriculum. UNC has a robust core curriculum that I knew would allow me to hone some development areas in my business toolkit while allowing me to get depth in some of my areas of interest, such as Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

One of the things that was most important to me was finding a school where students both own and invest in the community. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve always taken pride in the communities and organizations I’ve associated myself with and have invested time and energy into those communities and I wanted to go somewhere that empowered people to do just that.

As such, I really looked at schools that seemed to have strong student-driven and community-like feel. This attracted me to UNC Kenan-Flagler, UC Berkeley (Haas) and Duke University (Fuqua). All of the programs I applied to are top-notch programs with great people. While I’m very happy at UNC, I have nothing but respect and admiration with all of these schools to the point where I still stay in touch with many of the individuals I met at those respective schools. This has come in handy, especially for some of my recruiting efforts and business school activities and pursuits. You never know when a connection you make can come in handy!

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

Alex: I think very highly of my fellow classmates, administrators, faculty and staff at UNC Kenan-Flagler. I think we can do a better job of sharing the talents, skills and gifts that we collectively possess with the outside world.

One of the nice things about being at Kenan-Flagler is it’s a very feedback-driven environment. I’ve shared some of these insights with some administrators within the program and they’ve been very receptive to my ideas and even shared some of the things they were doing to improve upon this. Sure enough, there were initiatives underway to work on this and even found opportunities for me assist in the process.

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

Alex: I think two critical concepts to business school are developing priorities and understanding opportunity cost. Business school can feel like an endless “all you can eat buffet.” There are so many great opportunities and experiences at top MBA programs – it really is overwhelming!

Developing your priorities will help you figure out which opportunities to pursue and which to ignore. You can’t do everything, but you can do a lot. Secondly, understanding opportunity cost will help you make those tough decisions. Inevitably, you’ll be given the choice to do either X or Y, both being really great options. Understanding what you give up in return for what you get is critical to evaluating opportunities that come your way, and can help you make those tough decisions. (Note: this is an ongoing process throughout your two years!)

Accepted: Where did you intern this past summer? What role did UNC play in helping you secure that position? 

Alex: This past summer I interned at Salesforce.com out in San Francisco, CA. I worked on a Product Marketing team for the Salesforce1 Platform and enjoyed learning the ins and outs of life as a Product Marketer and experiencing first-hand what it’s like to work at the world’s most innovative company (as deemed by Forbes).

While I went off-campus to recruit for this position, I got some help from a UNC Kenan-Flagler Alum who worked at Salesforce and was able to give me great insight into the people, culture and business of Salesforce. Furthermore, I relied on the Alumni network at UNC Kenan-Flagler for almost every company I applied to during the recruiting process. Whether it was getting insight into the company culture, understanding what interviewers were looking for or getting honest insights about career decisions the Kenan-Flagler Alumni network played a huge role in the process.

Furthermore, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Career Management Center (CMC) was instrumental in my recruiting process. Since I did not go through the traditional on-campus recruiting channels the CMC was very helpful in connecting me to Alums but also providing me coaching and feedback as to how to handle particular situations that occurred in the recruiting process. For instance, I had the fortunate problem of getting multiple offers with quickly expiring deadlines while I was still interviewing for a role that I wanted. The CMC staff was provided great guidance in how I needed to handle that situation while maintaining professional and positive relationships with all the companies and recruiters that were involved.

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

Alex: My biggest challenge was that I was initially waitlisted at every school that I applied to. This was a tough pill to swallow, but after recognizing that I didn’t have time to sit idle I needed to take action and I needed help doing so. I was very fortunate in that I have a great network of current and former MBA students who were very familiar with the admissions process.

I’m someone who is comfortable networking and building relationships with others so I reached out to a handful of people who I thought could provide thoughtful guidance. These people were really helpful in being supportive about my situation while providing me with actionable insight on what I could do to move from the waitlist pile to the accept pile. In certain cases, they were able to directly connect me to admissions officers who gave me honest and direct guidance on what I could do to improve my odds of admission.

In the end things ended up working out, and while it was stressful it was a reminder that it’s not always but what happens, but rather, how you respond to what happens. Despite facing an uphill and daunting battle, I managed to get off the waitlist and attend a Top MBA Program of my choice.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn? 

Alex: Over the years, people have given me feedback that I give great guidance and advice and communicate effectively. Additionally, I’ve always wanted to write but thought I wasn’t a real “writer” so I shied away from doing anything.

Business school is about taking risks and stretching yourself, as such, I decided to take this feedback and run with it by creating a blog to share my thoughts and experiences on my MBA experience. I’ve met some incredible people and built great relationships through this experience. These people, have not only helped me learn, but have made a difference in my career. I wanted to combine all of this and share all of the knowledge, stories, experiences and thoughts so that others could learn and benefit from what I’ve gained.

So far, it’s been a very positive experience and something that I’ve enjoyed. Not only have I met great people, but I’ve also been able to reconnect with old colleagues/friends who have seen some of my work. Overall, it’s been a great learning experience and something I’ve truly enjoyed.

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

You can read more about Alex’s journey by checking out his blog, A Digital Mentor. Thank you Alex for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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Related Resources:

• UNC Kenan-Flagler B-School Zone
Leadership in Admissions
Waitlisted! Now What?

Meet Ashley: A Wharton MBA Student Making an Impact

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Wharton student Ashley Wells

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 Ashley Wells, 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? What was your most recent pre-MBA job?

Ashley: I have spent the last eight years living in Washington, DC, first to pursue my undergraduate degree in Political Science at The George Washington University and staying after undergrad to work in Deloitte Consulting’s Federal Practice. Although I grew up in Tampa, Florida and live for sunshine and the beach, I had an inherent love of government and politics which brought me to DC. Ultimately, this passion has transitioned into a broader realization that I love making an impact on people and communities around me, and I find that business can present profound solutions to social problems in addition to government.

In my career, I had some really interesting experiences learning about and trying to solve some of our country’s challenges alongside my clients. Working on issues such as reducing military suicides, tracking and protecting Department of Homeland Security personnel in the Middle East, and providing nutritious food to the one in five children who suffer from hunger in the United States were just a few of the challenges that brought me to work every day. I also had the opportunity to work in Deloitte’s Hong Kong practice, which is a very new joint venture between Deloitte US and Hong Kong. This “start-up” environment within the framework of a massive company enabled me to see the excitements and challenges that are innate to forming a company’s market presence from the ground-up.

Accepted: Can you tell us about Forte’s MBALaunch program? How did you decide to join the program and what did you gain for the experience?

Ashley: I was lucky to be an inaugural member of Forte’s MBALaunch program in Washington, DC in 2013! Forte has an incredible reputation within the business and MBA communities as a solid support network for women. Until this point, Forte focused on women currently pursuing MBAs and post-MBA women. I was really thrilled to see them offer a program for pre-MBA women to bring their programming full loop.

Like anything, the Forte MBALaunch program is what you make of it. I had an excellent relationship with my assigned Forte advisor who reviewed my essays, met with me monthly, and offered me encouragement throughout the process. I met with my assigned Forte small group over brunches and essay review sessions to offer one another feedback and support. At the end of our journey, many of us had gotten into top schools and we were beside one another (over mimosas!) to celebrate what we’d been through together. I took advantage of the Forte sessions on topics such as resume and interview preparation, which I believe gave me valuable insights that are not available from open-source information. Finally, I got a great network of friends from this and my investment in the program has already paid for itself in leaps and bounds. Two friends from the program actually connected the nonprofit I was on the board of to their companies, who then sponsored multiple major events for the nonprofit. All of the above benefits from the program far surpassed what I anticipated, and I look forward to my network continuing to grow from it moving forward.

Accepted: What are some of your most rewarding extracurricular activities (both before entering Wharton and current activities)? How have those activities helped shape your career?

Ashley: Two activities were core to my development and truly my identity prior to coming to Wharton. First was joining the board as a Vice President of United Women in Business (UWIB), a start-up nonprofit that provides professional development, networking, and community service opportunities to young female professionals. As a nonprofit entrepreneur, I teamed with fellow 20-something women to build UWIB, drive its overall programming strategy in three cities, and planned and executed all professional development events for DC women. This experience was aligned to my passion of impacting my community and taught me how much I enjoy building an organization, giving me an interest in start-ups that I am exploring in Business School. Furthermore, this experience positioned me well for my Wharton extracurricular activity leadership roles in Wharton Women in Business, and in Ashoka’s Catapult program where I advise six high school entrepreneurs starting a business.

Second, I actively challenged myself to broaden my horizons through travel. I traveled to 37 countries over six years, including studying in Madrid, Spain, backpacking Latin America for two months, working in Hong Kong this past summer, and religiously taking off work for 2-3 weeks each May to travel to a new region. These experiences reinforced my desire to live and work abroad throughout my career, and gave me a deeper sense of empathy, wonder, cultural differences, and appreciation for kindness that I believe will forever shape my career and my life.

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

Ashley: My favorite thing about Wharton thus far is the energy. Walking into Huntsman Hall each day is just a beautiful commotion of ideas, priorities, learning, and conversations. People are eager to connect and support one another, hungry to learn and push their expectations of themselves, and excited to carve their niche in the world. The people here inspire me each day to be better and think bigger, and the environment is molding me to see the world more analytically and creatively. You just can’t get this experience taking business classes on Coursera.

One thing I would change is just making some of the “summer prep” content available earlier. Many schools have “math camp” style tutorials, accounting prep sessions, etc. during the summer, but it’s honestly never too early to start learning some of that content! Had I had a bit more time to prepare in advance, I think I might have felt a bit better about the extremely quant heavy curriculum. So, for those of you out there without calculus experience like me, I highly recommend learning from my mistakes and prepping for that now!

Accepted: How is Wharton helping you to secure your future internship?

Ashley: Wharton is extremely hands-on with the recruiting process. I usually don’t like having my hand held as a highly independent person, but with Career Services, you are paying for these services and you should absolutely take advantage of them. Career Services preps you for everything from going from “good to great” on behavioral interviews, to how to nail a case, to industry-specific career overviews, to in-depth resume reviews, to individual sessions one-on-one to help you plot your path to getting your dream job.

What I really like about Wharton Career Services and Wharton overall is that there is an enhanced focus on evaluating your interests holistically. Important parts of your personality and life are analyzed in addition to your career goals. There is an emphasis on thinking critically about careers where you can thrive in multiple dimensions of your life. They are also just an awesome reassuring presence to ascertain that every first year’s worst nightmare – not getting an internship or job! – is unrealistic because, as they always say, “Everyone gets a job. Everyone!”

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

Ashley:

•  Submit your applications when you’re ready. I submitted my applications saying to myself “They may not like me, but I gave 100%. There isn’t a single word I would change.” You should feel like you did absolutely everything you could on your application, and then you can mentally move on from it to more important things like interview prep and evaluating school choices.

•  But if possible, apply round one. Everyone has a different strategy for this, but from my perspective, it was so much easier to find out in December, make a decision by January, and then start planning an exciting and fulfilling summer pre-MBA. I don’t think I could have handled the prolonged anxiety of applying from August-March, but if you do go through multiple rounds of applications, just give yourself iterative breaks and rewards to sustain your energy.

•  Only apply to schools you really want to go to. I look back on one school specifically that I applied to, and it was truly a waste of my time. Had I been honest with myself, I would have realized that I would have been miserable there. No matter what school ratings say or how good the school’s reputation is, if you don’t get an inspiring vibe when you’re visiting and engaging with students there, it’s just not worth it. Instead, focus more attention on the schools you can envision being elated by when you hear the news that you got in.

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

Thank you Ashley for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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Related Resources:

• Wharton Executive MBA 2014 Essay Tips
• Get into the Wharton School, a free webinar
• Four Tips for the Wharton Interview

Have an Open Mind, Learn Skills, Build Relationships: Darden MBA Interview

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Archana

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 Archana Rao, second-year student at UVA Darden.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?

Archana: Originally from India and being an Army Officer’s daughter I studied in 8 different schools and lived in more than 16 different states. Studied Electronics and Telecomm Engineering and pursued a course in Advertising and Public Relations to strike a balance between my quantitative and qualitative skills sets.

Accepted: What year are you at UVA Darden? 

Archana: Second Year Darden

Accepted: Why did you choose Darden? Why did you think it was the best fit for you? Has it lived up to its expectations? 

Archana: I chose Darden because I wanted to study in a college town with a rich history, wanted a small class size, and the case study method. Darden fit this exact criteria and it lives up to its expectations every single day.

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

Archana: I wish there was a larger focus on Technology careers. Measures are being taken to build better relations with the Bay Area.

Accepted: Which other MBA programs had you considered? Did you only consider programs in the U.S.? Why or why not?

Archana: I looked at Yale, Kellogg and Haas for particular concentrations that they specialize in. I got accepted at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, but chose to study in the US given the global exposure offered and the extensive diversity here.

Accepted: What was your pre-MBA job? Do you plan on returning to that industry after you receive your MBA?

Archana: I worked at the HSBC Bank as a project management consultant where I was also a global sustainability champion doing pro-bono consulting for non-profit partners in Education. This drove me to join the Teach for India movement where I taught English and Math in a public school.

I realized that there was lack of mentorship beyond school hours and decided to co-found a non-profit called Mentor Me India in Mumbai.

Most recently I spent the summer with the Boston Consulting Group in Houston working in Global Education strategy for the World Economic Forum and industry benchmarking for unconventional shale gas. I will continue to be in consulting full-time given the steep learning curve and opportunity to work across different industries and functional areas.

Accepted: Can you talk about the internship process at Darden? What role did they play in helping you secure your internship at BCG?

Archana: The internship process at Darden is competitive and begins almost immediately as you step on grounds in first year. Being focused, organized, and confident is the key in being successful in the process.

There are numerous support structures like the career development center and your second year coach to guide you all along the way. Your second years are the most valuable resource given that they just came back from a summer internship and have been through the whole process only a few months ago. I utilized all of the above to be well prepared to secure the internship at BCG.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier?  

Archana:

1. Have an open mind coming in, with a vague idea of what you might like doing for a career. Recruiting begins sooner than you think!

2. Focus on learning skills rather than just grades.

3. Build meaningful relationships with your classmates and professors. They are world-class at a top-business school.

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

Archana: Having had a variety of experiences in my career before b-school I was not sure how to communicate my short term and long term goals. But talking to people who had inspiring careers and understanding how they got there gave me a roadmap to how I could communicate those questions. It’s a very reflective process. It was very valuable for me to invest time in thinking about what I really wanted out of life and how I wanted to spend my time.

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

Archana:

1. My first blog (Life is My Classroom) shares my learnings from experiences I have had at Teach for India and at Darden. It gives everyone a window into thoughts and observations that others in these institutions also experience but don’t necessarily share. I love writing and it’s a great way to de-stress when things get extremely busy at Darden as well!

2. Life on a Post-it In today’s world where people’s attention spans are shrinking, I believe that cartooning is a strong medium in communicating my thoughts, observations, and musings about life, career, education, relationships etc. on a post-it! I enjoy cartooning and post-its and this blog lets me combine the both.

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

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

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Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• UVA Darden 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
Against the Odds: MBA Admissions for Indian Applicants
• How to Become a Management Consultant

Chicago Booth: A Social Experience Outside of My Comfort Zone

Click here for more Chicago Booth info & resources!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!

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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Related Resources:

Chicago Booth B-School Zone
MBA Student Interviews
School Specific MBA Application Essay Tips

Defining Her Strengths, Researching Schools and Choosing NYU Stern

Click here to read more interviews with current MBA Students!

Be reflective. Make friends. Take full advantage of the opportunity.

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 Lenore, a student at NYU Stern.

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

Lenore: I was born in Philadelphia and raised there and in the suburbs of the city. DC was one of my favorite places to visit growing up. Since it was just a short trip from home and my younger siblings, I was really excited to enroll at American University for my undergrad. I went in thinking I’d study international service, but switched to finance and marketing specializations after my first class in the business school.

Ice cream? Probably Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked or S’mores. But sometimes Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter. I guess it depends on the day. :)

Accepted: What did you do after finishing college?

Lenore: By the time I finished college I had worked in business communications, marketing for a start-up, and nonprofit business development. I didn’t yet understand how I could bring together what I thought were disparate interests in leadership, social impact, and business, so I would take a job and then keep freelancing or consulting or volunteering on the side, always trying to weave together those passions. I would throw myself into projects or jobs, but had a hard time feeling totally satisfied by any one of them. For example: a friend and I were hired to overhaul a local restaurant’s operations; then I was assistant director of an education nonprofit during a strategic redirection. In 2010 I moved to Haiti and worked as a project manager on a program for small businesses and social enterprises. Each of those experiences was enriching and educational for me, and helped me define my strengths and interests.

Accepted: What made you decide to pursue an MBA?

Lenore: Even though I went back and forth on how I would use it, I was always sure I would pursue an MBA. I love solving business problems, and believe that business plays an integral role, potentially a hugely positive one, in our communities and society.

My MBA application journey was an opportunity to identify patterns and common successes in the pieces of my professional background. Specifically, I started to recognize that the moments I was most proud of were those when I partnered with leaders to help shape their work and achieve success in their organizations. Through the admissions process and my own self-discovery, I recognized that working as a business and executive coach would allow me to combine each of the things I was passionate about.

Accepted: How will your MBA help you pursue your entrepreneur goals?

Lenore: An MBA deepens my business acumen, allowing me to support leaders more effectively. It also allows me the time to focus solely on my own professional development, which will make me a much better coach.

Accepted: How did you go about researching schools? Did you participate in any MBA fairs or events?

Lenore: I was first drawn to Stern when, during undergrad, I was looking for MBA programs with real-world opportunities to work in social enterprise. But I kept an open mind, and went to Forte Forums in Washington DC, listened to Forte webinars featuring admissions professionals from several schools, and visited as many of my target programs as I could. I also made a complicated spreadsheet and rating system to track the merits of each school! It was a long process, but I had a great roadmap as a member of the Forte Foundation and the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.

Accepted: I’m sure MBA applicants reading your interview would be interested in seeing your spreadsheet. Could you share it with us?

Lenore: Unfortunately I no longer have the computer on which I created the spreadsheets, but here’s my suggestion if someone were to want to create one:

Create a spreadsheet to keep track of important details on each program. My rows were school names, and columns were titled with the features I valued most. I was looking for a program with robust social enterprise and entrepreneurship programs, an urban location, opportunities to travel, and flexibility in the curriculum (but of course these will be different for each applicant). I also took business school rankings into account, and I made a column for notes as well. In as many cases as possible, I went to the school and visited the campus. In some cases, I resorted to reading everything I could find online, and then supplemented that with conversations with current students and alum. Each time I learned more about a program, I tracked the information in my spreadsheet–I probably added to it over the course of two years and looked at 12 schools in total. The final addition to my spreadsheet was a column for my own personal rating of each school based all that I had learned. My personal ratings were also reflective of the intangibles, such as how well I connected with students during campus visits, as I think those are just as important.

All things considered, NYU Stern came out on top, validating the assumption I had made even before doing any research. Despite that I came up with the same result, the spreadsheet process was helpful in that I kept an open mind and it supported me in making an informed decision.

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with the Forte Foundation? How have they helped you in your MBA admissions journey?

Lenore: I visited the Forte Foundation website quite regularly throughout my admissions process. The practical resources and webinars were especially helpful. I also valued the offline community that Forte creates; I met a GMAT study buddy and many friends at Forte events. Maybe most importantly, I draw inspiration from the Forte community, which is comprised of so many women living such full lives, pursuing and accomplishing their dreams.

Accepted: Which other schools did you apply to? Why did you choose NYU Stern?

Lenore: I ultimately applied to only two schools: NYU Stern and Georgetown, and was accepted to both. As I mentioned, I was interested in NYU even during undergrad, as the program offered an ideal match for my values and goals. NYU Stern provides an “education in possible,” and encourages broad and disruptive thinking. That is just the type of approach I planned to take with my degree and in my work.

Accepted: What are your 3 top tips for MBA applicants?

Lenore:

1. Be reflective. Your essays and interviews will be stronger if you know yourself and your goals. This process will give you the opportunity to tell your story often, so take the time reflect on what you would like to say.

2. Make friends. There are SO many resources out there for aspiring MBAs that you won’t be able to keep up with all of them yourself. Find buddies (through Forte and other networks) who are going through the process as well and can encourage and support you.

3. Take full advantage of the opportunity. You are making a significant investment, so get all that you can out of the process and the experience. Ask questions, make connections, visit schools, attend webinars: whatever you need to do to be informed and excited about pursuing your degree.

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

Thank you Lenore for sharing your story with us!

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Related Resources:

• NYU Stern 2015 MBA Questions, Tips, and Deadlines
Forte Helps Women in Business Thrive: Interview with Elissa Sangster
• Interviews with current MBA students