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…Jennifer Weld.
Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any graduate degrees? Where do you currently live?
Jennifer: I spent most of my formative years in Michigan, with the exception of my junior and senior years of high school, which I spent in Japan. My father worked at Ford, and we moved there for the Ford/Mazda joint venture. I graduated from an international school in Kobe.
By no means while living in Japan did I master the Japanese language, so I majored in it at the University of Michigan. My first job after college was at a Japanese trading company, but since then I haven’t used the language much and have gotten rather rusty!
I have an MBA from Cornell University (The Johnson School), and currently live in Durham, North Carolina.
Accepted: What’s your favorite book?
Jennifer: Since I have two young children, I don’t have time to read much other than children’s books these days, so I’d have to say, The Gruffalo, The Pout Pout Fish, and, Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent.
Accepted: What was your role with the Cornell Executive MBA program? How has that experience contributed to your role as an Accepted admissions consultant?
Jennifer: I was the Assistant Director of Admissions and Marketing, so in addition to serving on the admissions committee and all that entails (vetting prospective students, interviewing, making decisions on applicants, etc.), I also was responsible for the marketing messaging that we put forth to prospective students.
As a result of my role at Cornell, I am confident I have a good sense of what makes a successful applicant, and I make sure to get to know my clients well enough so that they present a multi-faceted view of themselves, not one that they “think” an admissions committee wants to hear (because trust me, they don’t!).
Admissions committee members read A LOT of essays, and you want yours to be the ones they can’t put down, not the ones that put them to sleep!
Accepted: Can you talk about the road that led you to becoming an admissions consultant for Accepted? What jobs and experiences led you to this point?
Jennifer: My road to Accepted was a bit unexpected. After I received my MBA from Cornell, I was happily developing a career in brand management at Unilever when my husband decided to go back to Cornell for his PhD. Since I didn’t want to have a long distance marriage, as well as the fact I wanted to support him in this endeavor, I looked for a job in Ithaca. With the emphasis on marketing with the Cornell EMBA position, it was a good fit. While in the role I discovered how much I enjoyed my part in helping others reach their goals.
Once I had kids, and after my husband graduated, I wanted to find something more flexible than a traditional 9-5 job. Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, who was at Cornell when I was a full-time student, was already working at Accepted, and suggested I consider a position there. And the rest, shall they say, is history!
Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about consulting?
Jennifer: My favorite thing is when some advice or knowledge I share with clients really hits home, and they take it to heart. As I mentioned earlier, one of the common misconceptions applicants have is that essay topics should always stick to work-related experiences. While the content provided in those types of essays is always informative, it might not be very attention-grabbing.
When I challenge clients to come up with alternative topics they are almost always spectacular. For example, one of my recent clients came back to me with an answer to “What’s the most challenging experience you’ve ever faced?” with a perfectly reasonable work story about developing the first app in his company, which wasn’t app-savvy. It showed all of the hurdles he surmounted and that he no doubt was a valuable employee, but the essay was thoroughly boring. When I encouraged him to share with me some other examples of challenging experiences in his life, one of them was a time he broke his ankle on a remote hiking trail with his family. Pay dirt!
Accepted: What sorts of applicants do you mostly work with?
Jennifer: I work with MBA applicants, those looking to enter full-time, part-time or EMBA programs.
Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips?
1. Be sure. If at all possible, visit the schools you are considering applying to. Sit in on some classes, speak with students, and see what environments feel right to you. That is the best way to decide if the school is a good fit, and those visits often provide rich material for essays where you are supposed to discuss the whys of a particular school.
2. Be yourself. Own up to who you are, warts and all. No one is perfect, and don’t try to present yourself as such in your application. If you have extenuating circumstances that can help explain a poor semester, share them. If you have a gap in your resume, clarify it. If your GMAT score is not as high as you’d like it, present other evidence as to why the lower score should not be a concern.
3. Be selective (with your recommenders). Choose people who know you well and can speak to your strengths, weaknesses and how an MBA will help you succeed in your chosen profession, not those who may have impressive titles but have little to no insight into you as a working professional.