Next up in our series of featured MBA bloggers is B-School Babe, Sharon Lee. Please enjoy Sharon’s thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the MBA or EMBA admissions process. She also provides some important insights into the Wharton MBA for Executives Program.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to college and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?
B-School Babe: I’m a native New York City chick. I graduated from NYU in 2001 with a BA in Psychology and a concentration in Marketing. I’ve been working in the advertising/marketing industry since college, having worked at global companies like Unilever, Saatchi & Saatchi and McCann-Erickson. For the past five years, I’ve been employed at Girl Scouts of the USA, where I am now the Director of Marketing and I absolutely love what I do. In addition to my BA, I also have a Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management from Columbia Business School and several yoga teaching certifications.
Accepted: How did you choose Wharton? Why did you feel it was the best school for you?
B-School Babe: To be honest, I actually feel like Wharton chose me! When I was evaluating schools, I wanted to find a program that would be the best fit for me and one where I would be able to hone my skills. Wharton felt the “rightest” to me because I wanted to be in an environment where my classmates would have a similar amount of professional experience as I had and I wanted to have access to world renowned professors. I also wanted to be an in-person environment which would encourage a ton of networking and interaction. The Wharton MBA for Executives Program offers all of those things. We are in classes on Fridays and Saturdays, bi-weekly, and stay in-residence on Friday night which allows us to spend a lot of time together in and out of the classroom. Further, I am very passionate about using business to make the world a better place and Wharton has a wonderful Social Impact program that allows students access to NGOs and non-profits.
Accepted: Is b-school anything like you had expected?
B-School Babe: B-school has been a transformative experience and has given me the confidence to create a trajectory of success that I never would have imagined. In the past six months that I’ve been enrolled at Wharton, my life has been on a super-charged upswing. I have been promoted at work due to my MBA candidacy. I’ve gotten engaged and married and am now expecting a baby on the way. I’ve worked with several classmates to enter a Global Innovation Challenge and we are now in the final round, hoping to win the title of the World’s Most Innovative MBA Team. We have been selected to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on January 27th.
Business school is so much more than the number of hours spent in the classroom, it’s a time when people get the chance to truly evaluate their life situations and make great change. B-school teaches you that every moment is an opportunity to learn and grow. I’ve been able to apply that philosophy to all aspects of my life.
Accepted: What would you do differently, in hindsight, when applying now that you are in b-school?
B-School Babe: I would have started earlier. My entire b-school application process, from the moment I decided to return to school to receiving my first acceptance phone call, was only about 6 months long. I literally completed one of my b-school applications in 24 hours – and that included begging my recommenders to submit their letters within that timeframe as well – something I would not recommend to anyone! In addition, I took the GMAT twice and waited to see my score before committing to the application process and selecting my target schools. If I could have done it all over again, I would have given myself at least a year to prep for the GMAT, evaluate programs, network with current students and mentally prepare for the life change.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
B-School Babe: I really enjoyed my Foundations in Leadership class taught by Michael Useem, the director of Leadership and Change Management at Wharton. He has such a great way of providing insights on how to be better managers and leaders in the workplace, by using case studies and inspirational stories. One of my favorite classes was when Useem invited Movers and Shakespeares, a theater company, as guest speakers to teach us how Shakespeare acting methods related back to leadership strategies. I had a blast dressing up in costume and reciting lines that were written by the bard.
Accepted: Are there any things in particular you did before starting b-school that made the transition back to student life easier? (Like taking a math course to brush up on your skills, move to your new location a few weeks early to settle in…)
B-School Babe: Because I’m in an Executive MBA program and still working full-time, I needed to make sure that my boss and coworkers would be well-prepped for my transition back to school. I solicited approval of a flexible work schedule, which allows me the time off necessary to attend classes and to participate in group projects. I also had to learn to delegate more tasks to my team – and get used to the idea that I can’t do it all. Finally, I had to set the expectations of the people in my life as well – my now husband has been extremely supportive and understanding. There are many nights when I’m out with my study group until midnight or later. All of our partners and spouses have had to sacrifice their time with us in order to support our MBA journey.
Accepted: Do you have any advice you’d like to bestow on our current MBA or EMBA applicants?
B-School Babe: Ask for help. Business school is all about networking and you will be surprised at how willing folks will be to help you. When I was applying to b-school, I visited a few programs and spent a good amount of time with current and past MBA students, as well as admissions directors and professors. I kept in touch with them after the visits and continued to contact them as I developed my applications. By doing so, I created my own support network and got a ton of help. At some schools, students offered to review my application and coached me through the process. At other schools, alums talked to me a lot about their own experiences post-graduation and asked hard questions about what I wanted to do with an MBA, which helped me to solidify my essays and helped me to prepare for the interviews. I was super lucky to have received all of the help that I did from complete strangers. And now that I am in business school, it is my job to give back. So please visit my blog B-School Babe or my Facebook page and contact me if you ever have any questions. Good luck!
The deadline to submit your Wharton Executive MBA application is coming soon, on February 6. Check out our Wharton EMBA essay tips for insights into answering the questions.
Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.