Curious about the life and times of our spectacular admissions consultants? Please enjoy our newest blog series in which we interview the fabulous people who make up the Accepted.com staff. Next up is…Esmeralda Cardenal.
Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any graduate degrees?
Esmeralda: I was born in Nicaragua and received a full scholarship to attend a small liberal arts university in Steubenville, Ohio where I studied Business Management. Later on, I got my MBA from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.
Most of my professional career has been related one way or the other with recruitment and admissions.
I lived in England and Wales for several years before returning to the States. I currently live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with my husband and daughters.
Accepted: Can you share three fun facts about yourself?
1. I started my first business at the age of 8, selling candy to other children in the neighborhood. The business went bankrupt when I refused to re-invest my earnings to purchase more inventory. I then decided to sell fruits and vegetables from my mother’s fridge to the neighbors. Another business idea that ended rather quickly.
2. I love re-inventing restaurant gourmet meals at home, and more often than not I end with a better version than the restaurant’s.
3. I lived for 5 years in a beautiful little Welsh village between the Snowdonia National Park and the Irish Sea. The name of the village is Llanfairfechan. It took me 3 of those 5 years to learn to pronounce it in Welsh. (Hint: none of the consonants sound as you think they should).
Accepted: How long have you been working for Accepted? What’s your favorite thing about consulting?
Esmeralda: I joined Accepted in February of this year. My favorite thing about consulting is hearing my clients’ stories and helping them find THAT detail that will make them stand out. I truly enjoy the brainstorming sessions and I find it fascinating to be able to help them craft their application. Sometimes a story that a client thinks is rather insignificant actually illustrates just the trait that will help them get into the business school of their choice. I love finding those hidden gems!
Accepted: Can you talk about life as an admissions director?
Esmeralda: In my experience, business students learn just as much from their peers as from their professors. That is why the top business schools “craft” each of their classes to get just the right balance. This was one of the most fascinating parts of my work as an Admissions Director: to bring each year a well-balanced class that had the right mixture of people from different countries, experiences, and backgrounds. This process is not what many people may think from the outside, small details in an application package may indicate a good fit with the rest of the class or not, finding just the right combination of people was extremely challenging and fascinating at the same time.
Accepted: Can you tell us about one of your accomplishments from when you were in the admissions office?
Esmeralda: While at the Yale School of Management, I led the women and minorities recruitment initiatives alongside with my regular admissions work. Under my direction, minorities increased at Yale by close to 70% in the first year alone, and I became one of the founding members of the Forté Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking to increase the pipeline of women in business education and the corporate world.
Later on, at Michigan State, as head of the admissions office, once again I was able to significantly increase enrollment of women and minorities. As part of those initiatives I started a partnership with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a non-profit organization geared towards increasing the numbers of minorities at business schools. Being able to increase the numbers of underrepresented populations at both business schools fill me with great pride.
Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips?
1. Be genuine. Don’t try to read the adcom’s mind by answering what you think they want to hear.
2. Be specific. General statements do not get you into b-school. If you make a claim, back it up with numbers. If you mention your virtues, illustrate them with concrete examples. If you list your accomplishments, state what effect they had on your organization. Be as specific as possible.
3. One size doesn’t fit all. Now more than ever, many b-schools try to differentiate their essay questions from the generic “why do you want to come here.” Be careful with copying and pasting from one essay to another: what is a great answer for one school may not be such a good fit for another.