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