This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Akosua Ayim, a recent graduate of Cambridge Judge.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Akosua: Hi! My name is Akosua and I’m from New Jersey by way of Ghana. My parents immigrated to the States from there and I was born in New York. I received my Bachelors from Columbia University where I double majored in Economics and French & Francophone Studies.
Accepted: Can you share three fun facts about yourself?
• I’m a spoken word poet and singer/songwriter who’s a proud member of A Blacklisted Mind – we’re a poetry collective based in New York.
• I published my first book of poetry a couple of years ago – it’s called ‘sometimes the heart breaks.’
• My sister ran a beauty salon in Ghana when I was younger and she taught me how to do hair to keep me occupied as a kid. I’m not certified but I love trying new styles on people.
Accepted: Where are you in b-school? What year?
Akosua: I recently completed the one-year MBA at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge (Class of 2014-15).
Accepted: Which other programs had you applied to? Why did you choose Cambridge? Did the program live up to your expectations?
Akosua: LBS, Yale and Oxford. I really wanted to be abroad to gain some international experience. I chose Cambridge for a few reasons: the diversity of the class, Cambridge’s location in a thriving start-up community, being embedded in a phenomenal University with over 800 years of history and the fact that Cambridge has a Culture, Arts and Media Management concentration which fit perfectly with my career goals.
Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about living in England?
Akosua: There’s so much to choose from! The art scene here is amazing and different from New York. I’m still finding my way about, but it’s been great to see how the arts manifest in another big city. Everyone is extremely willing to share and network and build – I love that. It’s like discovering a whole new world.
I’ve been performing a little bit and that’s been challenging but in a good way. I also love being able to travel all over this side of the world while staying within my budget.
Accepted: Where are you currently interning? Where do you think you’ll end up after that?
Akosua: The plan is to end up in London working somewhere in the media (specifically music) industry, which is a huge change from my Finance background. Ideally I would like to be in a Strategy or Branding role, but I’m keeping my options open.
Right now I’m interning with an amazing adtech start-up, Adludio, in Marketing and PR.
Accepted: Looking back at the application process, what would you say was your greatest challenge? How would you advise other applicants who may be experiencing similar challenges?
Akosua: The GMAT was my greatest challenge, simply because I allowed it to get the best of me. My advice would be, don’t start studying for the GMAT too early, but once you do begin, study as hard and as efficiently as you can. Staying calm is a very important part of the exam (at least for it was), so work on getting comfortable with the format and spend the extra effort on getting the time management right.
Accepted: Who is Sillage? Can you tell us more about your art and music?
Akosua: Sillage is my stage name. ☺ I started out as a poet but have been singing since I was a child and soon picked up the guitar to accompany myself (I’m very much an amateur). I guess my sound is an acoustic/R&B blend. I write my own music but love putting my own spin on covers. I’m working on an EP and am looking forward to performing around London when the time is right!
Accepted: Do you have any other admissions tips for our readers?
Akosua: I think business school is one of the best things I’ve ever done, but I know so many who want the MBA and don’t know why. You don’t have to have your story completely figured out (I don’t think anyone 100% does), but you should definitely have an end goal that the MBA will help you achieve. It’s a huge investment, so be sure it aligns with your short and long term plan.
I would also say, spend a lot of time doing research, speaking with current students and alum and then pick maybe 3-6 schools that you absolutely love for the application process. It can be very intensive and spending energy on applications just because can negatively affect the one or two that really matter.
You can follow Akosua’s story by checking out her blog at From Harlem 2 Cambridge or by following her on Twitter at @AkosuaAO. Thank you Akosua for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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