Learn how real students and recent grads have navigated their way through the business school admissions process and b-school itself with our What is Business School Really Like? series.
Meet Michael, a Booth MBA drawn to his career as a result of what he hopes to ultimately accomplish in life. His goal? To make the world a more efficient place. “I want every company, business, and organization I touch to become better and faster at what they do.”
Michael, thank you for sharing your story with us!
Let’s start at the beginning… Where did you go to undergrad and what did you major in?
Michael: I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (I-L-L!) and majored in Global Studies with a focus on East Asia and Conflict Resolution.
What was your inspiration or epiphany for deciding to pursue an MBA?
Michael: Although there were many reasons why I wanted to dive into business school, one of the main motivations was that I knew I needed to build a new skillset, in order to reach my long-term goal of becoming a leadership consultant. At that point in my career (we’ll call it early 2018), I had found success in tech-data analysis, CRM implementation, sales strategy. However, I couldn’t tell you even the raw basics of accounting, finance, or economics. If I wanted to be able to positively impact business leaders around the world, I needed to first be able to speak the language of business!
During the application process, were you also working full-time? What did that look like and how were you able to balance it all?
Michael: I was working a full-time consulting job at the same time that I was going through the application process. One of the biggest factors in balancing the workload was communication with my managers at the firm. I was fortunate that I had a set of outstanding leaders who supported me in the journey, so I never felt that I needed to hide the fact that I was planning on moving on from the company. A second factor was having a consistent regiment for studying for the GMAT and finishing applications. I set targets for when I would take the test, planned out when I would apply to schools, and set up contingencies to fall back on if things went well or didn’t go well – I’m a planner, so it made me feel more comfortable to map it out!
Which “tools” – such as an app, technique, lifehack, website, guide, mantra, or advice – got you through the application process and into Booth?
Michael: Not sure if it counts as a lifehack, but I simply talked with people. I talked with current students, alumni, faculty, the leadership development staff, the admissions team, and even people who turned down Booth to really understand the program to the point where not only could I visualize myself there, but I also could readily exactly how I wanted to contribute. It allowed me to put my true self onto paper – I didn’t know if I would be accepted or not, but I felt honest with and confident in my story.
There are so many factors that go into accepting an offer at an MBA program! Which metrics did you use and what was most important to you?
Michael: Oh gosh, you don’t want to see the scoring model that I created. It was wild, and I don’t recommend it. (Side note: The first indication that I was going to choose Booth should have been when I did something as nerdy as creating a scoring model to decide a major life event.) I started off with metrics, such as 10-year average salary, job placement rates, company representation, and location. But – as fluffy as this sounds, it’s true – it all came down to the people. Even after my scoring model created a tie between schools (go figure), when I visited Booth’s admitted students weekend, First Day, I immediately knew that was where I would be. The rest is history!
Let’s revisit the day you got your acceptance letter, we’re anxious to know you celebrated.
Michael: Jumping up and down, banging my knee on my desk, proceeding to call my parents, and having a happy cry together.
What advice would you give the incoming MBA class?
Michael: First, talk to everybody. You’re going to be surrounded by some of the brightest, most driven, absolutely impressive people in the world, and you don’t even realize it. They – and you – have done amazing things to reach where you are, and you are in a unique position to truly learn from them. So, branch out and strike up a conversation with that stranger, since you never know what you may take away from and contribute to the experience.
And finally, what advice would you give your younger self?
Michael: You’re more resilient than you know. Take a deep breath, then keep pushing forward.
Do you want to be featured in our next ‘What is Business School Really Like?’ post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
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