Accepted.com is continuing a blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at selected MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Our first stop? New York City. Here are some excerpts from an interview with a current full-time Columbia MBA student from a finance background.
How close did you stick to your originally stated goals from your application?
So you were pretty focused on finance. That’s been a good match for you at Columbia?
What about the New York location? How did that affect your experience?
It’s absolutely tremendous. Really, in any field the opportunities are in New York City. If you’re an investment banker you have access to Wall Street, such as morning phone calls with all the investment banks. Your professors are multimillionaires who’ve made it on Wall Street. One of them made phone calls on my behalf at internship time, which I thought was unheard of. So the dedication of their time–from an internship standpoint it’s invaluable.
I have a 600 sq. foot apartment without a second bedroom or even a desk to study. It’s not nice if you’re working your tail off and you have a wife who doesn’t think you’re paying enough attention to her and you have no place to get your studying done. I would chose to live close to school or the library.
What did you find out the school offers that you couldn’t find out from the website or an information session?
I guess the good access to the professors. I was going through job recruiting and I was reached out to by multiple professors who said they would put out in a good word for me. They will put out their neck out for you. It was really something I didn’t anticipate.
What kind of leadership training or mentoring do you receive at Columbia?
Every class in the core curriculum now has a portion dedicated to leadership training, such as ethical decision making. All clubs have individual mentorship programs. And in the value investment program, which is opened to 30 people a year, those who make it into the program have a mentor matched up to them for their desired work location in the future.
How much help has career services been to you? How much job search have you had to do on your own?
Career services is instrumental in setting up resume critiques, mock interviews, and actual meet-ups. But I think the most important part of the Columbia experience is the clubs. The real vital knowledge about internships and connections is in the clubs.
Can you tell me about your best day so far on campus?
Making it through the interviews for internships and getting an internship offer. You go through 5 to 7 interviews a day, that can last an hour and a half, where you pitch your stuff and it gets pretty intense. But it was worth it in the end when I got good news.
The unavoidable part is definitely choosing between your significant other, socializing, making good grades, and your career search. You can really only do three at the most and usually it’s best to stick to two out of the four. You need to really map out your plan about what you’re okay letting go of and where you really want to focus your time, then stick too it–or you’re not going to make anybody happy. I had a professor say that everybody likes hot tea and iced tea, but nobody likes tepid tea. You don’t want to be tepid. You have to decide where you’re really going to excel.
Last words of advice?
Know what you want to do before you get here. A lot of people are very focused. Competition is tough, so executing a well-thought out plan will get you ahead.
Interview conducted by Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted Accepted.com clients applying to top business schools since 2007. She is happy to help you with your application.