Entrepreneurship, Fashion, and Wharton: MBA Alum Interview

For more MBA student & alum interviews, click here!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Dorie Golkin and Emelyn Northway, Wharton graduates and co-founders of Of Mercer (which you’ll read more about below).

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?

Dorie: I (proudly) grew up in New York City. At Princeton, I majored in Civil Engineering and minored in visual arts, with a focus on darkroom photography. My favorite non-school book is Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Emelyn: I’m originally from East Grand Rapids, Michigan. I attended Cornell University and majored in Economics and Psychology. My favorite non-school book is Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I also love Tina Fey’s Bossypants for a laugh out loud read.

Accepted: Where did you go to b-school and when did you receive your MBA? What have you been doing since?

D&E: Both of us went to Wharton Business School, where we were members of the class of 2013. Since graduating a year ago, we have been working full-time on our startup, Of Mercer, a new women’s workwear brand of fashionable, office-appropriate apparel that we launched last November. It is a concept that we conceived and worked on while at school, after discovering that we weren’t the only women who struggled to find budget-friendly, desk-to-dinner clothes.

Accepted: When you started Wharton, did you know that you wanted to start your own fashion line/online store? How did your company evolve? Can you point to specific classes, clubs, or other resources that directly helped you launch your company?

D&E: We both came to Wharton planning to pursue entrepreneurship, but not necessarily in the e-commerce space. We’ve both always been interested in fashion, but Of Mercer was really about solving a personal problem, one that we discovered after we wore the same work dress to an event and realized it was the only one in our closet that we actually wanted to wear to work. While at Wharton, we conducted numerous surveys and focus groups to test and refine our idea. It was through this feedback that we decided go with a direct-to-consumer model and develop a “beta” line of five dresses that we tested and sold at Wharton before building out our launch collection.

During the process, we were accepted into the Venture Initiation Program, Wharton’s incubator program. Having a team of advisors, a network of fellow entrepreneurs, and a wealth of start-up specific programming and resources to draw on was incredibly useful in helping us go from idea to launch.

We also tailored our course selection to what would be most helpful (both in the near and long term) for Of Mercer, including Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship, Customer Analytics, Digital Marketing and E-Commerce, and many more.

Accepted: What was your favorite thing about Wharton? If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Dorie: It was definitely the Wharton community. Everyone from our professors to our peers was incredibly supportive of us and our venture, and was willing to help in any way possible, whether that meant taking an hour of time to participate in a focus group or sitting down with us for a one-on-one conversation about inventory management. In addition, the community of student entrepreneurs at Wharton is strong and growing. In fact, our class had a record number of students who went on to pursue their own startups after graduation.

Emelyn: Wharton’s curriculum has really evolved and covers the gamut of topics you’ll need to know well to be a successful entrepreneur. However, I would love to see a few more opportunities to learn the more gritty, practical skills and tasks that are actually part of the day-to-day operations of an early-stage startup – things like basic coding, graphic design, or even how to set up bookkeeping and payroll.

Accepted: How would you rate Wharton as a program for entrepreneurs? Which other b-schools do you think are best for entrepreneurs? 

D&E: Wharton is a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs. We were incredibly happy with the program and can’t imagine going anywhere else. We felt support from all levels – from our peers to the administration – support that still continues today, a year after graduating.

We didn’t go to any other business schools, so we don’t think we can accurately comment on their programs, but great entrepreneurs come out of all the top schools. It’s all about having an entrepreneurial mindset going into business school and using your resources effectively while you’re there.

Accepted: Can you share your top three admissions tips with our readers? (These can be specific to Wharton or general, or ideally, a combination of both.)

Dorie: Be authentic and realistic. You don’t have to claim that you’re going to cure cancer to stand out, but you should have a track record of what it is you want to pursue. Even if you’re making a career change, there should be something on your resume – an extracurricular pursuit, a specific project, etc. – that shows you’ve already dipped your toes in the water and are bringing valuable experiences to the school and your future peers.

Emelyn: Be honest in your application about how business school will take you to the next step in your career. It’s quite possible that the next step may change once you get there, but you need to apply with a clear vision of what you think that step is now – not only to get in, but also to get the most out of going to business school and hit the ground running once you’re there.

Focus on your essays and make sure they shed light on qualities about you or experiences you’ve had that may not come across on your resume. They’re one of the few places in your application in which you have the ability to differentiate yourself. And don’t wait to get feedback on your essays – get it as early as possibly from as many people as you can (preferably people who have gone to that school) to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

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

Thank you Emelyn and Dorie for sharing your stories with us!

Applying to Wharton? Check out our 2015 Wharton Application Essay Tips!
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Interview with an Admitted UCLA Anderson [Re]Applicant

Click here to read more MBA student interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a follow up interview with James Huntington, who was recently accepted to UCLA Anderson. (We first met James last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)

Accepted: It’s nice to have you back! Can you tell us a little about how you’ve spent your last year?

James: Thanks! I am excited for the opportunity to share a little bit more about my experience. I never imagined how much time, energy, and effort would go into applying to b-school. It definitely consumes you. Other than applications, interviews, etc., I have tried to spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids (we are expecting another boy here in a couple weeks). We did a couple family surf trips, one to Washington and one to Mexico…Mexico was a little bit warmer. I have also spent the past couple months brushing up on some math/Excel skills, as well as taking a few computer science and coding classes to help prep me for my goal to transition into the tech industry.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to UCLA Anderson! In our last interview, you had said that you were applying to Tuck, Haas, Kellogg, MIT, and Yale – but no mention of Anderson! When did you add Anderson to the list? Did you apply to any others not on your original list?

James: Thank you so much! Anderson was on my shortlist of schools I wanted to apply to, but I decided I didn’t want to tackle more than five applications in round one, even though I got a very early start being a reapplicant. After being dinged or waitlisted by the schools I applied to in round one, I decided to apply to Darden, Tepper, and Fuqua, in addition to UCLA Anderson.

Accepted: Where else were you accepted to? What tipped the scales to favor Anderson? 

James: I ended up getting into Darden and Tepper as well. At first, I was having a very difficult time deciding where to go. There were aspects of each program that I really liked and I knew I could be successful at each one. However, as I talked to more students/alumni, reflected on my personal/professional goals, etc., Anderson was clearly the right choice for me. This is not to say that Darden or Tepper lacked in any of these areas, but there were a few things that really stood out to me about Anderson:

Students

Throughout this whole process, I have found that Anderson students have been some of the most, if not the most responsive, friendly, genuine, and helpful students I have talked to. Of the students I contacted or was introduced to, 100% of them responded and took time to talk with me. The only other school that came remotely close to that was Tuck. All the students I spoke with at Anderson were down to earth and very friendly. A few even offered me a place to stay while I look for housing. I appreciated the fact that after I was accepted I was assigned a buddy by the admission office. I was also contacted by an alumni and spoke with him about his experience at Anderson. Another thing that really impressed me compared to some of the other programs was the amount of help/advice Anderson students gave me in terms of preparing for school and a career transition.

Location

One factor I didn’t think would be too important to me while I was researching programs, but became increasingly so, was the location of the school. For my career goals, to transition into tech, aside from perhaps the Bay Area, I couldn’t have picked a better location. Plus, having grown up in California, I am looking forward to returning to my home state and enjoying the great weather! No more snow 2014!!!

In relation to location, one thing I really like about Anderson is they offer academic internships. With the relatively strong tech start-up scene in the Los Angeles area, this will give me the opportunity to further gain and develop the needed skills and experience while in school to land a job in tech post-MBA.

Career/Technology

Along the lines of location and career, another big plus for Anderson was the strength of their tech club, the High-Tech Business Association, and the amount of different offerings for students interested in tech. With nearly a quarter of the students from Anderson going into the tech industry, the school has put a lot of resources into developing this area of their program. With some of the other schools, I felt like I would have to put a lot of personal effort into being able to get anywhere near the experience I would at Anderson. Another big draw to the program was that Anderson’s Career Management Center, Parker CMC, has consistently be ranked one of the top MBA career management centers. From all my conversations with Anderson students, the strength of the Parker CMC is one thing that came up in almost every conversation.

Community

Although there are a ton of other reasons I chose Anderson, the last one I will talk about is the community. I mentioned this earlier, but all of the students and fellow admits that I have spoken to have been very down to earth, friendly, and receptive. I initially really wanted to be in a small town to make sure I got the tighter-knit, community feel from the program I attended. However, after the experience I have had thus far with Anderson, I am confident I will get the tight-knit community feel while being in one of the most vibrant cities in the world!

Sorry to go on and on, but as you can tell, I am really excited about Anderson!

Accepted: Can you talk about your different interview experiences (this year and last year when you applied the first time)? And can you share a few tips with our readers on interviewing?

James: Absolutely! Of the entire application process, I enjoyed the interview the most. I felt like I was able to paint the best picture of myself while interviewing, as long as I was prepared. The difference between my first interview last year and my last interview this year was like night and day. I think some of it had to do with just gaining experience interviewing, but it was mostly due to my level of preparation and understanding my story.

Of all of the interviews I did, my favorite was by far my interview with Darden. The interviewer came in completely blind, she didn’t even have my resume, and she asked me to tell her my story. She wanted to know about my personal life, my professional life, and my goals. She would interject from time to time with questions, but overall, she let me direct the conversation. Because I wasn’t restricted to answering specific questions, I felt like I was able to express who I am and who I want to be much better than in other interviews. I think that question would have been overwhelming if I hadn’t prepared and didn’t know that Darden was known for the “Tell me your story” interview style, but thanks to the various forums and interview reports, I was, and it made the experience very enjoyable.

For those that will be interview soon, make sure you prepare! Don’t just prep for general interview questions, but look up interview reports for each school, the interview formats can be very different. The better prepared you are, the smoother the interview will go.

Also, know your story inside and out. Own it! Know what you want to do, how you are going to do it, and how the school you are interviewing with is going to help you. When asked, “Why our school?” don’t respond with general comments like, “Collaborative culture,” “Tight-knit community,” etc. Be specific! If those things are important to you, tell them how their school exhibits those characteristics. Be genuinely specific about classes, clubs, conferences, and activities that are going to help you achieve your goals. Again, be specific about how you will contribute to you class and the program. In order to do that, you will need to prepare, research, and talk to students/professors.

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

James: I have always enjoyed going to school. I am really looking forward to stepping away from work for a while and devoting all that time and energy into school. I believe that an MBA is a great opportunity to better yourself personally and professionally, and I am looking forward to doing that with some great classmates. I have already had the chance to connect with a few members of my future class and I have been impressed by all the different backgrounds and things they have accomplished. I am really excited to get to know them better and to meet more great people. Outside of school, I am looking forward to going surfing, and my kids are pumped to be so close to Disneyland!

Accepted: Do you still blog? How do you think your blog will evolve now that you’ve been accepted? 

James: I am still definitely blogging. So many of the other prospective students’ blogs and current students’ blogs helped me throughout this process, I want to give back in some way if possible. Hopefully some of the things I write about will help those that are just beginning the process, and maybe inspire some reapplicants to keep working hard and going after their dreams.

My blog has definitely evolved since I started it. When I first started writing, it was mainly for myself. It was an outlet for all the pent up thoughts/anxiety brought on by the application process. I feel like it has become more of a place for me to share my experiences and information I have come across to help benefit others who are going through the process now. My hope is that it will become a resource for those individuals. I plan to blog while I am in school as well, although it might not be at the same rate, and offer insight into life at b-school, specifically UCLA Anderson.

You can read more about this blogger’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, MBA Reapplicant! Thank you James for sharing your story with us!

Tips to help you ace those MBA interviews!

 

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Leadership, Tech, & Forte: IV with a Cornell MBA Student

Check out the rest of our 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, introducing Sarah Markels Maynard, a second year student at Cornell Johnson

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

Sarah: I grew up in sunny San Diego, California. For college, I ventured back east to Wellesley College, where I majored in Physics. Something that I did not appreciate until after graduating from Wellesley was how empowering it had been to have strong, smart, and capable women in all of the leadership roles around me. It was incredibly inspiring for me and I feel that it helped motivate me to excel in hard science fields that I wouldn’t have normally felt comfortable pursuing. This is why it has been especially important to me to be involved in the Forte Foundation and other activities that support women in pursuing their desired careers.

Accepted: Where are you in b-school? What year?

Sarah: It is hard to believe, but I will be graduating in a few short weeks from the two-year MBA program at Johnson at Cornell University. The two years go by far more quickly than you think that they will! After graduation, I am excited to say that I will be joining GE Capital ECLP, a rotational commercial leadership program.

Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about Johnson? 

Sarah: I was originally attracted to Johnson’s tight-knit community and found that I truly connected to all of the students that I met while exploring my options for business school. Over the course of my two years I have found that Johnson really does hold up to my initial impressions. The faculty is superb and I love that the school truly responds to student concerns. In direct response to student and faculty input, Johnson is going to be revising its core curriculum for the upcoming year to better address student needs.

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

Sarah: While at Johnson, I have gotten extremely involved in the community – it adds a lot to the business school experience because it enables you to reach different groups across campus and give back to the community. As a Forte Fellow, I have been involved in several of the recruiting events for women interested in business school and I served as a student representative on the Diversity Council and the female subcommittee. Additionally, I served as President of the Women’s Management Council, VP of Marketing of the High Tech Club, and, most recently, I co-founded the Johnson Women in Technology Conference with one of my fellow second year classmates at Johnson.

Accepted: Can you tell us about the Women in Technology Conference?

Sarah: In my first year in business school, I went on a trek to Seattle to visit some of the high tech companies in the city. I shared a room with my classmate, Melissa Adeyanju, who was interested in pursuing a career at a tech company but was uncertain about her chances given her non-engineering background. Having worked in tech, I knew that a degree in engineering was certainly not a requirement! We spoke about ways that we could foster a community for women who were interesting in finding a future in tech and ultimately founded the Johnson Women in Technology (JWiT) Conference. The first year’s theme was “Power Up Your Future” and our aim was to start a conversation for women interested in investing in their futures in technology. We had an excellent line up of speakers and panels. We have already picked the new co-chairs for next year’s conference, so mark your calendars for March 20, 2015!

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with the Forte Foundation? 

Sarah: I’m very proud to be a Forte Fellow and greatly value the doors that it opens up for female MBA Candidates. They hold an annual conference for women joining Forte Sponsor MBA programs and I highly recommend attending the conference, regardless of whether or not you are a Forte Fellow. I met some of my closest friends at Johnson at the Forte Conference in 2012 in Los Angeles. The conference is a great place to not only meet other incoming students, but also get some tips for hitting the ground running once you start your program.

Accepted: What would you say are your top 3 MBA admissions tips?

Sarah:

1. Know yourself – Understand your top three defining characteristics and weave these descriptions throughout your application and interviews. Knowing who you are and your defining strengths is key not only to getting into business school, but also finding your perfect career after business school.

2. Paint a clear picture of your future – When thinking about business school and writing your application, I realized that I had to do a lot of soul searching of how an MBA truly fit into my future and how it would help me get where I wanted to go. You should have a clear idea of the skills and experiences that only an MBA program can provide. Even more, you need to understand what you will bring to that MBA program.

3. Get to know current students – For most programs you are going to be dedicating two years of your life to your education. This means taking yourself out of the workforce and using that time to invest in yourself. You need to make sure that you actually like the people that you will be spending time with, especially during the demanding curriculum that many of the top programs will give you.

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

Thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us! You can connect with Sarah via LinkedIn.

This report will help you navigate the MBA Maze 

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An International Student and Career Changer at UC Berekeley Haas

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, introducing Max Anisimov, a first year student at UC Berkeley Haas

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What year are you at UC Berkeley Haas? 

Max: My name is Max. I am currently getting my MBA at University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business, in the class graduating in 2015.

I am originally from Russia, Tyumen City. I graduated in International Economics and Business from one of the best regional universities and then moved to Moscow in 2008 for the next five years and then to the US in 2013 to start my MBA.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Haas so far? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be? 

Max: What I like most about Haas are the people. It is inspirational and fun to be around people who have so much in common with you but at the same time offer such diversity, coming from different backgrounds, career paths and countries. It really makes you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and widen your perspective. Actually, I recently blogged about things I liked most about Haas, among them are also the school’s focus on technology and entrepreneurship, its location close to the Silicon Valley and being a part of large top university.

If I could change one thing, I would probably increase the number of top companies recruiting on-campus.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier? What are some things you wish you had known before starting your studies?

Max: In a way, things that are important at business school are the same things that are important in life at large. If I had to boil it down to only one, I would say: FOCUS.

This goes both ways: in terms of how you focus your energy externally and how you frame a situation internally.

MBA experience is ironic in that it is the best time to be open-minded and try things you have not tried before, but also the most important time to focus on the most critical things. So, find the right balance and start with your vision coming to school. Which activities are critical for you making it a reality, which ones are nice to have, and which ones are detrimental? As David Allen said, you can do anything, but not everything.

Be grateful and have fun; do not forget that even though you might feel overwhelmed at a certain moment, that is what you worked hard for. Stay true to yourself. For example, if parties are not your thing, connect with classmates by doing sports together or by working on projects.

Accepted: Can you tell us about the independent studies you’re doing at Haas?

Max: Working with a team of three students and two UC Berkeley professors (John Danner and Mark Coopersmith), I have done an independent study on MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses, such as Coursera, EdX and Udacity) as EdTech is something I am interested in and believe that MOOCs have immense potential to disrupt the industry.

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

Max: The most difficult thing was to plan the whole process and stay motivated which is not easy for international candidates who are never sure about their chances to get admitted, get financial aid and get their visa. Sometimes, structured GMAT courses and admissions consultants help with this, but I personally decided to do it by myself as I had limited time and really valued flexibility of preparing on my own schedule.

For example, I did a part of my GMAT prep on a beach while having a vacation in Thailand. It made my wife quite amused. I later wrote a guide to studying for GMAT which hopefully some candidates will find helpful.

Accepted: What was your pre-MBA career? Do you plan on returning to that industry after you receive your MBA? Do you plan on heading back to Russia or relocating somewhere else?

Max: I wore different hats before. Most of my full-time job experience comes from working as a brand manager, marketing products for leading multinational consumer goods companies in Russia. I also launched several Internet startups, primarily targeting the Russian Web.

I am passionate about technology’s potential to make positive impact on people’s lives. So, one of the goals I had coming to Haas was to make a transition into the technology field, ideally Internet or software and consumer electronics. In terms of function, most likely I will keep doing marketing and strategy for now. I narrowed down my search to large multinational companies rather than small startups and going to intern at Hewlett-Packard this summer. Long-term I would like to plunge into entrepreneurship full-time as I have been often doing it part-time, and mid-term I would like to stay in the Valley.

Accepted: What role did Haas’ career management center or related clubs play in the helping you get your summer internship?

Max: The job offer I ended up accepting was received on campus – thanks career management group for this! Clubs can sometimes be helpful by providing some job postings and by organizing “career treks” – visits to companies’ headquarters.

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

Max: Keep in mind that schools are pragmatic in a sense that they want to minimize career and academic risks potentially associated with you. So you should clearly communicate that you will fit in. But they also want students with outstanding profiles. So you should standout as well, at least with one unusual thing.

Realistically speaking, I think that name-dropping is especially important for international applicants. Some of you might have much better local companies to work for in your given country than Procter & Gamble, McKinsey & Co and Goldman Sachs. But from the brand recognition perspective, I would argue that candidates from these have better odds, all other things being equal. So, this is something to keep in mind and adjust for in your essays, if needed.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When did you start blogging? Who is your audience? What do you hope to gain from the blogging experience? 

Max: Sure! I blog about books, marketing, tech startups, wellbeing and travel. Recently, I have been writing more about my MBA. But really I view my blog as an experimentation lab where I might play with different cool things. It helps me meet like-minded people and to improve my English, as well as Internet technology, design and social media skills.

Accepted: What are your favorite non-school books?

Max: I mostly read non-fiction, listening to audiobooks when commuting. If I had to pick only few, I would settle for Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt (psychology, philosophy and science), Abundance by Peter Diamandis (future, economy and technology) and Your Brain at Work by David Rock (neuroscience, personal development and management). Oh, I need to add fiction. Let it be Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Sum by David Eagleman for pure fun. :)

Thank you Max for sharing your story with us! You can stay current with Max’s MBA adventure by following him on his blog or Twitter or by connecting with him via LinkedIn.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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Meet David, Cornell Johson MBA Student Headed to Bain

Check out the rest of our 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 (or in this case, a top JD/MBA program). And now for a follow up interview with David Schuette, a second-year student from Johnson at Cornell University. (We first met David last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)

Accepted: How did your second year at Johnson differ from your first year?

David: The second year at Johnson is quite different from the first. Second year course load is fully customizable and activities largely focus on giving back to the first year students. It’s also a bit less stressful (though not less busy!), as most people don’t have to worry about a job search because they loved their internship and Johnson has the highest internship conversion into full-time offers of any MBA program.

Why isn’t it any less busy? Johnson second year students spend the whole first half of the year pouring countless hours into preparing first years for interacting with companies and interview prep. In fact, while the Career Management Center (CMC) is fully supportive of helping students find their way, the majority of training comes from clubs, career workgroups, and informal mentoring while the CMC provides behind the scenes structure and support to those groups. It’s a fantastic system that works well due to our supportive community at Johnson.

The second half of the year is all about second years solidifying their network of friends and having fun. There is more time for BBQs, weekend trips, or global treks. It’s also a great chance to take classes outside of Johnson; lots of people explore the broader Cornell campus taking classes ranging from programming, to philosophy, to the oft mentioned wines course at the Hotel School.

Accepted: Congratulations on your new job at Bain! How did you receive this offer?

David: Thanks! I’m really excited to be starting in Chicago this fall. The process for full-time recruiting was very similar to internship recruiting except that it happens much more quickly and much earlier (done by November versus February). The actual interview process was identical in structure to internship recruiting, meaning another grueling written case as well as the standard case and behavioral interviews.

Accepted: What was the role of Johnson in your job search and landing the position?

David: When thinking about what role Johnson had in landing my position at Bain, I believe in taking a very broad view of the question. As anybody will tell you, business is all about the network. I think it’s safe to say that it would have been impossible for me to land a position at Bain without attending a program that had a great relationship with Bain.

Similarly, I wouldn’t have been prepared for the interview if not for the collaborative recruiting mentality that we have at Johnson. My peer network was crucial in helping me prepare for my interviews, regardless of what company they were going to.

Accepted: Did your involvement in the consulting club play a role in getting your job at Bain? If so, how?

David: It’s always hard to say what factors are being considered behind the scenes. What I do know is that as VP of Education, it was my job to know the material inside and out and communicate that to first year students. I actually believe it’s the latter part that was the most helpful. Consulting is all about working a problem and then explaining that solution in a way the client can understand. By going through the process of being a teacher to first years, I believe my interpersonal skills were refined in a way that made my interviews (case and behavioral) more like conversations.

I suppose the extra reps on case practice also made me much more comfortable with the process. I didn’t necessarily learn the material any better, but by being more comfortable with it I was able to relax and let my personality come through.

Accepted: As you look back on your almost two years at Johnson, is there anything you would have done differently?

David: With time winding down, I have thought about this a lot. While there were things I didn’t get to do, an MBA is pretty packed and so trade-offs have to be made. You simply cannot do everything and I don’t want to confuse things I wish I could have done with things I wish I would have done. So I guess my only regret is that I wish I had found a way to make each day longer!

Accepted: What now is your favorite class, project or activity?

David: Management Simulation – this is a class that is as simple as it is elegant. You start by having to decide fewer than 10 numbers to input and it just grows in complexity from there. You must forecast demand, predict competitive responses (from other teams), determine pricing strategy, evaluate capital structure, and a bunch of other things.

In some ways it is just a game. But in other ways it shows just how much I’ve learned over the last 2 years. Things like cash flow, multiple market pricing strategies, return on equity, advertising and R&D investment, competitive analysis, and many other principles all play a role in running the ‘company’ successfully.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better class to round out my MBA.

Accepted: Do you have advice for MBA applicants applying in 2015?

David: On my blog for Johnson, I recently did an extensive write-up on Picking a Program, which was targeted at individuals trying to make a choice between schools, but I believe it would also be a great read for prospective students looking to apply.

In short, get connected to people and ask specific questions. I must have talked to over 10 people at Johnson prior to writing my essays to make sure I had a good sense of what the culture was. It wasn’t just to check a box – that won’t help you; you have to actually be interested for a person to open up to you. Also, I didn’t just try to talk to the president of the consulting club, but also the public speaking club, the beer club, Johnson bloggers, and a few others.

Accepted: What advice would you give MBA students starting business school in September?

David: Take time for yourself. Things can get crazy busy in an MBA. At times it is with classes and at other times it’s with social events. Some people relax with video games, others with yoga, and still others by writing. Whatever your method of relaxation, take time to do it. You might not realize how bad you need time for reflection when you’re in the thick of it, so think about it ahead of time. Block in off in your calendar. Whatever you do, take that time for you.

It’s going to be an amazing 2 years. Good luck!

Thank you David for sharing your story with us!

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