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.
How did you manage this career transition? It’s been a tough couple of years on the job market.
My goal was New York. Recruiters really want to get to know you — and the beauty of Fuqua is that it’s only an hour-long flight from New York. I would fly up every Thursday night for a semester and spend Fridays going to women’s events sponsored by the banks. Other people who couldn’t go up as often as I did would take off a week from school and schedule back-to-back informational interviews.
Now, you would think that people that were closer, like Columbia or Wharton, would have a bit of an advantage. But I found out that because they were so close, recruiters expected them to be around all the time. Senior level bankers would cancel interviews on them frequently because they were so close. We may have been there less often, but because we came from farther away, our time was more respected.
Wow. You put in a huge effort to get your face out there. Did you get any support from the school in your job hunt?
Yes – the alums were amazing. Fuqua is a 30-year-old business school, so we don’t have decades and decades worth of alums out there yet. But they really want to build the brand so they are amazingly supportive. The career development office – they’re ok – but it’s really the alums who are very supportive. Team Fuqua does transcend the two years.
What stood out for you about Fuqua as you were doing your MBA research?
A lot of schools are “pigeonholed” as strong in one particular area, like marketing or finance. I wanted a well-rounded program because I was interested in finance, but I wasn’t quite sure. If I ended up doing something like consulting, recruiters might wonder why I chose Wharton. In my opinion, Fuqua is strong in every area, not just one area.
What was the ‘x’ factor that made you say yes to Fuqua?
There’s a phrase you hear all the time –- Team Fuqua. People really look out for each other here. For example, during internship recruiting season, people who wanted investment banking jobs came back before second semester started and we spent a week prepping each other for interviews. We were going to compete against each other for the same jobs – but that sense of teamwork is so strong that there was no question we’d help each other out so that we could all perform our best.
What was your best day at Fuqua?
I’d gotten the “rep” as someone who was really involved in Duke’s entrepreneurial push. I was asked by the provost to address the board of trustees and implore them for direct funding toward entrepreneurship. The board included some pretty remarkable people. I found out they were really inspired by my story and it sounds like they are really onboard.
It was during first term –- finals week. I had forgotten what it was like to be a student and I was completely overwhelmed. I was flying up to New York every weekend, getting about 3 to 4 hours of sleep during the week. I was just exhausted. I didn’t know how I was going to handle all the work I had to do. But I met a 2nd year in the hallway who said, ‘This is literally the worst it will be.’
So I’m a glutton for punishment. B-school is going to be intense, but I still want to go! Any tips on Fuqua’s application process?
The interview is huge. Current students conduct them. As teamwork is so important here, you should have a good story about how you motivated a group, how you held them accountable, and how you dealt with any conflict that came up. This is CLUTCH. Also, Fuqua, for both good and bad, is largely student run. They’ll want to know you’re going to make a positive impact –- but don’t overreach. Have a couple of really solid ideas that you’re super passionate about, rather than a laundry list. They know the workload, and they’ll know the difference between sincerity and bluster.
Who were your favorite professors?
– Bill Mayhew – Accounting
– Shane Dikoli – Managerial accounting
– David Robinson – Entrepreneurial finance
– John Graham – Corporate restructuring
Across the board the teaching style is mostly case study – except for certain classes, like statistics.
Are there any innovative programs starting up right now?
There is a major push for entrepreneurship across the entire Duke campus. One of its new goals is to become a center for entrepreneurship — much like MIT and Stanford. P4E (Program for Entrepreneurs) is a second year program that allows you to bring your idea to school, find teammates, and earn up to 25 percent of your credit focusing on a start up.
There’s also the Health Sector Management program –- it’s the top health-related business program in the country.
What about international exposure?
Duke is extremely focused on becoming an international school. Fuqua has opened satellite schools in Shanghai and Dubai to really make Fuqua a global brand.
There’s also the GATE (Global Academic Travel Experience) program. You take a class on the region you’re going to and then you travel there at the end of the term. You spend half the time doing cultural activities and then you meet with high-level business executives. I went to Istanbul and Dubai – two Muslim cities that are incredibly different and provided amazing perspective.
Finally, the class itself is extremely diverse – 36% of the students are international. There’s a strong Indian presence as well as a strong South American presence.
Any last words of advice?
Go where you feel comfortable – the interview process clinched the decision for me. The Team Fuqua spirit is real – people really do watch out for each other here.
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.
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