This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with business students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top programs. And now, introducing Andrea Caralis…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Andrea: I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and spent four amazing years at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where I studied Finance at the Farmer School of Business and ran the Club Field Hockey Team. I was raised in a Greek family and grew up performing on stage and playing sports. After undergrad, I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I began an amazing career at PNC Bank.
Accepted: Your work has been focused on FX. How will an MBA help you achieve your long-term career goals?
Andrea: “Growing up” on a trading floor gave me the opportunity to develop many transferable skills, all of which align with my future career goals in tech. The FX world is a fast-paced work environment where things change on a minute by minute basis, it is extremely cross-functional, and every day I was using data to drive custom revenue generating solutions for clients. My favorite part of the job was interacting with my corporate clients, nothing made me happier than to give them the best experience, and the most creative solutions to their problems. As my industry became more disrupted by technology, I realized I was passionate about embracing these changes and learned how to continue to drive revenue in a challenging and more digital world. I am now working toward my MBA to help dive deeper into the Tech industry and plan to leverage my blend of Finance, Sales & Marketing, and Strategic thinking skills within the Tech industry.
Accepted: You are currently attending Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. What year are you?
Andrea: I am a first year MBA at Tepper, graduating May 2019.
Accepted: Why did you choose that program? How were you a good fit?
Andrea: The Tepper School of Business prides itself on Leadership & Analytics. I knew that those skillsets were something that I wanted to focus on for my next career step. As the world continues to be data-oriented, I knew the skills I would sharpen at Tepper would position me well for the future. I also felt a sense of community when I visited and talked to students. Tepper was an environment where I truly felt I could be myself, which I think is essential to finding the right program.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Tepper? Is there anything you’d change?
Andrea: Something I love about the Tepper program is the opportunity that I’ve had to dig deeper into the technology industry. Our Business & Technology club hosted the “Tech Innovation Challenge” for some of the top business schools in the country. My team and I were finalists and designed a business proposal for Autonomous Technology. Through case competitions, and joining a university-wide CMU Hyperloop team, I’ve had the opportunity to get hands-on experience.
If I could change anything, I’d like to change the perception that Tepper is a program only designed for “quant-wizards.” Our student body is comprised of a variety of people, coming from diverse backgrounds and industries, and I think the best part of my Tepper experience has been learning from everyone. Tepper embraces diversity in experience and although we are excited to have an analytical approach to the MBA, it should not deter anyone from joining our community.
Accepted: You are a Forté Foundation Fellow! How has this accomplishment helped launch your journey to business school?
Andrea: I am so proud to be a Forté Fellow. I was lucky to have worked for a company that supported the Forté Foundation prior to getting my MBA too, so I had already benefited from the knowledge and information that the organization shares. As an MBA Forté Fellow, I am passionate about promoting women in business and allied partnerships. As a woman who has always been in a male-dominated industry, I am excited to be a part of a community of trailblazers. The Forté Foundation’s career conference in June of this past summer was also an amazing gateway to some of the top employers, and I was lucky to build strong connections and internship potential opportunity prior to my MBA program starting.
Accepted: Looking back at the application process, did you experience any challenges? How did you overcome them?
Andrea: The application process challenged me in ways I hadn’t expected, it forced me to look at myself, my past accomplishments, and articulate why this next step was so important. If there is a word that describes me, it would be scrappy. I hustled by networking, taking the GMAT multiple times, and working to put my best application in front of the admissions teams. At the end, I was honored to have joined the Tepper community and have loved my experience thus far!
Accepted: Lastly, what are your top three tips for those who are going through the MBA application process right now? Is there anything you wish you would have known, that you know now?
1. Talk to many as many current students as possible and get a feel for how they interact with you. It will provide insight into their community.
2. Be yourself, and I truly mean this. If you remain genuine through the process, the right school will love you back!
3. Get the highest GMAT you possibly can and try to apply Round 1.
Want to learn more about Andrea? You can check out her LinkedIn profile here. Thank you Andrea, for sharing your story and advice – we wish you much success!
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