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How to Get a Georgetown MBA [Show Summary]
If you’re looking for a global MBA program at the intersection of business and politics that is designed for principled leaders with a strong first-year core and an elective second year where you can customize your education to your needs, listen to this interview with Georgetown McDonough’s Shelly Heinrich, Interim Associate Dean for MBA Admissions. She’ll also gives you tips for effectively approaching the Georgetown’s MBA essay options, video, interview, and more. HINT: They want people who really want Georgetown.
Interview with Shelly Heinrich, Interim Associate Dean at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business [Show Notes]
Today’s guest is Shelly Heinrich, Interim Associate Dean for the Georgetown McDonough School of Business (MSB). Shelly earned her bachelors in business at Texas Christian, her Masters in Educational Administration at UT Austin, and her EMBA at Georgetown. She worked at George Washington University for four years and then moved to Georgetown’s admissions office in May 2014. She became Asst Dean for Marketing, Recruitment & External Relations in July 2017 and interim Assoc Dean for MBA Admissions and Director of Marketing in September 2017.
Shelly, can you give us an overview of the FT MBA program at McDonough focusing on its more distinctive elements? [2:01]
We really focus on developing principled leaders. We provide a strong business core in the first year to provide a wide breadth of understanding in business. In the second year students customize the program to their interests, choosing from over 100 electives, and not having to declare a concentration. This framework allows the student to get a full picture of business but also a deeper understanding of what they really like. All students are required to participate in a global consulting experience. They work in teams for six weeks in DC solving a problem for an international client and then ends with them going overseas to present their proposal to the client.
How does Georgetown take advantage of its Washington location, it’s being at the intersection of business and government? What does that mean in terms of the program, the classroom, and career placement? [4:13]
You really feel at the center of it all – business, society, and politics. We consider DC a learning lab, and there are a couple ways we do that. Brand new this year is a class in the leadership curriculum called Managing the Enterprise, which involves working with a very prominent organization in DC (press release soon) working hands on with tackling the problems of leadership and people and solving a problem for this organization. This course is in the second year, so students can apply tools from the toolkit they already have.
We also have a certificate in non-market strategy where students learn about the intersection of business, society, and politics.
Through academic tutorials students can get academic credit by working with an organization, and the World Bank is one of them.
Because of our location in a very global city, we graduate students who are interested in working in companies that are multinational, not working in isolation, as they realize the benefits of skills that cross borders. Our program is bookended with two global experiences, one I already mentioned in the second year, but our first three weeks of the program is the Structure of Global Industries, which throws new students into a project where they have to solve a mock problem for a mock client. Throughout the three weeks they learn from various professors in different disciplines that will allow them to solve a problem before even really being to business school.
We also attract a very global population, with 270 students and close to 40 countries represented. About ¾ of our students have lived, worked, or studied abroad.
When an applicant comes to me and says she’s interested in international development work or working in government/business, or international business, I immediately start thinking “What schools would be right for her?” And McDonough would certainly come to mind. That’s clearly a strength at Georgetown. What are some other strengths that are not as well known that I (and applicants) should be aware of? [10:47]
The strong core is one – taking a year to focus on various disciplines. The benefits of having to take economics with finance, accounting, marketing, and strategy, they all start to come together to build an understanding of business. I also think the hands on components of our program allow students to practice what they are learning. We also believe that the ideal breakdown of the experience should be 1/3 in the classroom, 1/3 with career-related activities, and 1/3 with hands on leadership activities, like certificates, or taking on one of 350 board positions, like being president of the consulting club.
Let’s turn to the application process itself. Who should take the GRE and in should take the GMAT in your view? [12:54]
That is a tough question and it really comes down to personal choice. There are certain industries like banking and consulting that would prefer to see a GMAT, so if you are headed in that direction, it’s likely better to take the GMAT. On the other hand, if a student wants flexibility regarding graduate education, then a GRE can provide that later on. We also have candidates who take both, as often individuals do better on one than the other. But we have no preference. We do recommend taking the exam more than once, though. The first time you take it, it’s all new, and you are likely stressed, so try it again. Statistically you are likely to do better the second time.
There have been some interesting changes this year to the MBA application. Can you go through them? [14:47]
When reflecting on who we want in the classroom, we decided what is most important is a diverse classroom. We found in asking one essay question, we often got similar responses. We started to think we might not be allowing people to write an essay that selects an experience that they think best highlights them, or they were being forced to choose the response they think we want to hear. So we decided to offer three different essay options, and the candidate can choose which one works best for them. One focuses on current leadership, another on self-awareness, and the third on values and beliefs. We are excited to see the diversity in the applicants with this new option.
What’s the purpose of the video essay? [16:44]
We started it a few years ago and we’ve found many different uses for it. For one, not everyone at McDonough gets to interview with more than one person, but there are many people on the admissions committee, so if you are a candidate who does extraordinarily well in the interview only one person gets to see it and try to recreate how great you did. In the video, a similar personality tends to show up, so validates that perspective. There are also times you will have a fantastic candidate on paper but they have a bad interview, so the video gives candidates a chance to have another opportunity to prove themselves – it’s not the only face to face interaction with us. The video also gives us an opportunity to assess executive presence, energy, and level of English ability. It is recorded so they can record it as many times as they are comfortable, which also shows their judgment.
In terms of interviews, admissions staff will do interviews, sometimes career service staff will, and we have student interviewers and alumni as well. Whoever does the interview, perspectives are all weighted equally, and we do formal training for all interviewers.
What’s the purpose of the optional essay? Who should write it? [20:59]
It is not meant to be another essay. We don’t want people to take a great essay from another school and copy and paste. This essay is meant to really explain any idiosyncracies in your application. If you were laid off in the financial crisis, how did you deal with that? What did you do to take the time to better yourself? Perhaps with undergrad you didn’t do so well because you were supporting a family member or dealing with an illness. We need to understand that to put context to your transcript. Don’t let us create our own answers – tell us!
When you review an MBA application, how do you go through it? [22:55]
We start by looking at the basics, where they’re from, how many years of work experience they have, where they went to undergrad, their GPA, major, work history and trajectory. Then, what are their short and long term goals, and does their work experiences make sense, and if it doesn’t make sense, we dig into the essay and interview to make the connection. We look at the numbers first and then dig into the story of who they are. What I love is reading an entire application and going to the recommendation letter and it confirms or supports what I thought of them. Last is the interview because that assesses fit and how they will be part of the community.
What gets you (positively) excited about an applicant? [24:36]
We interview a lot of people, as admissions folks we have interviewed hundreds if not thousands of people. People who stand out are people with an infectious enthusiasm for Georgetown – people who remind me why I love Georgetown, when you can tell we are their number one choice. They are going to be the leaders. I also love the people who are overly prepared. You can tell people in the top 10% who have thought through ‘why the MBA‘ and ‘why the Georgetown experience’ and have created the steps of how it is going to happen. They convince us as well as themselves it is the right partnership.
What advice do you have for applicants to McDonough who are apply for your R1 10/9 deadline or your Round 2 January 7, 2019 deadline? [28:00]
A student is going to do best if they are very well informed about our program. I don’t mean memorizing our website, I mean connecting with an alum or a student, listening to podcasts, and reviewing blog entries. The more you become convinced that this is the right place for you, the more it bleeds through in your application – you can tailor all you learn into the application. Spend the next few weeks really immersing yourself in everything we have. If you can’t come to campus, there are many virtual ways to become involved. Get to know us and take everything you learn and put it into your application.
Any last words of advice for MBA applicants considering Georgetown McDonough? [31:03]
I think if students want a program that transcends global boundaries and equips them to be a global leader, a small class size that allows them to thrive, and an alumni network that really operates as Hoyas helping Hoyas, those are students we want at Georgetown. It is a rigorous process we know, but time flies and you will create a path for your life and career that you never thought possible, and we really hope you choose Georgetown to help you on your journey.
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