This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a follow up interview with Josh Howatt, a second-year student from CMU Tepper. (We first met Josh last year – you can read our first interview with him here.)
Accepted: Last we spoke you had just been accepted to Tepper. Can you please bring us up to date? How have you been the last year and a half?
Josh: My time at Tepper has been absolutely fantastic! Currently, I’m pursuing the Management of Innovation and Product Development track, and working with other CMU schools in Engineering, Public Policy, and Design Schools for my Capstone. We’re collaborating on real-life problems with F500 companies and start-ups. It’s great to be putting the tools we’ve learned into practice. Also, I’m concentrating in Marketing, Strategy, and Information Systems – a far cry from where I originally intended in CPG. The curriculum is rigorous and highly quantitative, but also provides its fair share of soft-skill classes, e.g. Managerial Communications, Negotiations. So far, it’s been an amazing (see: challenging) experience.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Tepper?
Josh: My favorite thing about Tepper is that it’s a small program, so the feeling is collegial. It’s absolutely true that if you work at it, you can get to know every single person in your class. This also makes for a great teacher to student ratio. Meaning, there is plenty of opportunity to engage in discussion with your professors outside of the classroom. With regard to the student body, everyone has certain expertise and is more than willing to lend a hand or teach what they know. Tepper feels like a family, and I don’t think you fully realize how true that is until you visit and see it firsthand.
Accepted: Where did you intern this past summer? Can you talk about the process by which you secured the position and how Tepper helped along during the process?
Josh: This summer I interned at Autodesk as a Thought Leadership, Content Marketing Intern. Tepper was instrumental to me landing this position. We have a fantastic COC that allows you to meet with as many counselors as often as you like. Fortunately, I loved my originally assigned counselor from the start. She was fantastic at connecting me with alumni in companies I was interested in, and often times would shoot off an email right then and there during our meetings. The COC is also great in preparing students for the recruiting process; everything from developing your STAR stories, to getting your resumes and cover letters into pristine condition. One of the most helpful parts of the process is the month-long BaseCamp before Mini 1. Not only do you get an opportunity to engage with your future classmates, but you get a jumpstart on the recruitment process, because it starts SO EARLY.
Accepted: Do you have a job lined up yet for next year?
Josh: I do! I will be starting as a Sr. Consultant for Verizon in their Marketing Leadership Development Program. I can’t even tell you how excited I am!
Accepted: Congratulations on your job with Verizon!
Can you tell us about the difference between “concentrations” and “tracks” at Tepper? How early in your studies do you need to declare these specifications?
Josh: I would equate concentrations and tracks to undergrad minors and majors. Concentrations are specializations that require completion of 3 elective classes within a certain field (so you could essentially have up to 3 or 4 concentrations). Tracks go much deeper in that they involve completing core specialization classes, and then choosing from specified electives. You typically apply to be part of a track, and choose only one.
Accepted: Are you involved in any clubs on campus? How central to student life is club involvement?
Josh: I’m VP of Technology for our Marketing Club and VP of Marketing for Out&Allied (Tepper’s LGBT club). I’m also a member of our Business&Technology Club and the Public Speaking Club. Club involvement in very central to student life at Tepper. Outside of board duties, at least twice a week I’m participating in a club sponsored event, which is great! There’s always something interesting going on, whether it’s a social event, educational series, or recruiting prep.
Accepted: Do you have any tips to incoming Tepper students? What do you wish you would have known when you were starting out?
Josh: My best advice for incoming Tepper students is: realize you are only human and don’t be so hard on yourself! There’s going to be so much interesting stuff to do, and you’ll want to do it all, but that’s just not possible. I was a huge stress case my first two Minis (my friends will attest to this, and is sort of a running joke now). Get used to saying “no” and learn to prioritize what’s most important to you and your Tepper experience. Between classes, recruiting, social events, club events, corporate presentations, career fairs, and everything else in your life, your head is going to spin. Just know that ahead of time. Find a way to balance school and life. Take time for you. And if you find yourself starting to lose it, just know that there is a Tepper family there to help hold you together.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school applications, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Tepper, check out our CMU Tepper 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips.
Thank you Josh for continuing to share your story with us!