Accepted: How did your second year at Johnson differ from your first year?
David: The second year at Johnson is quite different from the first. Second year course load is fully customizable and activities largely focus on giving back to the first year students. It’s also a bit less stressful (though not less busy!), as most people don’t have to worry about a job search because they loved their internship and Johnson has the highest internship conversion into full-time offers of any MBA program.
Why isn’t it any less busy? Johnson second year students spend the whole first half of the year pouring countless hours into preparing first years for interacting with companies and interview prep. In fact, while the Career Management Center (CMC) is fully supportive of helping students find their way, the majority of training comes from clubs, career workgroups, and informal mentoring while the CMC provides behind the scenes structure and support to those groups. It’s a fantastic system that works well due to our supportive community at Johnson.
The second half of the year is all about second years solidifying their network of friends and having fun. There is more time for BBQs, weekend trips, or global treks. It’s also a great chance to take classes outside of Johnson; lots of people explore the broader Cornell campus taking classes ranging from programming, to philosophy, to the oft mentioned wines course at the Hotel School.
Accepted: Congratulations on your new job at Bain! How did you receive this offer?
David: Thanks! I’m really excited to be starting in Chicago this fall. The process for full-time recruiting was very similar to internship recruiting except that it happens much more quickly and much earlier (done by November versus February). The actual interview process was identical in structure to internship recruiting, meaning another grueling written case as well as the standard case and behavioral interviews.
Accepted: What was the role of Johnson in your job search and landing the position?
David: When thinking about what role Johnson had in landing my position at Bain, I believe in taking a very broad view of the question. As anybody will tell you, business is all about the network. I think it’s safe to say that it would have been impossible for me to land a position at Bain without attending a program that had a great relationship with Bain.
Similarly, I wouldn’t have been prepared for the interview if not for the collaborative recruiting mentality that we have at Johnson. My peer network was crucial in helping me prepare for my interviews, regardless of what company they were going to.
Accepted: Did your involvement in the consulting club play a role in getting your job at Bain? If so, how?
David: It’s always hard to say what factors are being considered behind the scenes. What I do know is that as VP of Education, it was my job to know the material inside and out and communicate that to first year students. I actually believe it’s the latter part that was the most helpful. Consulting is all about working a problem and then explaining that solution in a way the client can understand. By going through the process of being a teacher to first years, I believe my interpersonal skills were refined in a way that made my interviews (case and behavioral) more like conversations.
I suppose the extra reps on case practice also made me much more comfortable with the process. I didn’t necessarily learn the material any better, but by being more comfortable with it I was able to relax and let my personality come through.
Accepted: As you look back on your almost two years at Johnson, is there anything you would have done differently?
David: With time winding down, I have thought about this a lot. While there were things I didn’t get to do, an MBA is pretty packed and so trade-offs have to be made. You simply cannot do everything and I don’t want to confuse things I wish I could have done with things I wish I would have done. So I guess my only regret is that I wish I had found a way to make each day longer!
Accepted: What now is your favorite class, project or activity?
David: Management Simulation – this is a class that is as simple as it is elegant. You start by having to decide fewer than 10 numbers to input and it just grows in complexity from there. You must forecast demand, predict competitive responses (from other teams), determine pricing strategy, evaluate capital structure, and a bunch of other things.
In some ways it is just a game. But in other ways it shows just how much I’ve learned over the last 2 years. Things like cash flow, multiple market pricing strategies, return on equity, advertising and R&D investment, competitive analysis, and many other principles all play a role in running the ‘company’ successfully.
I don’t think I could have asked for a better class to round out my MBA.
Accepted: Do you have advice for MBA applicants applying in 2015?
David: On my blog for Johnson, I recently did an extensive write-up on Picking a Program, which was targeted at individuals trying to make a choice between schools, but I believe it would also be a great read for prospective students looking to apply.
In short, get connected to people and ask specific questions. I must have talked to over 10 people at Johnson prior to writing my essays to make sure I had a good sense of what the culture was. It wasn’t just to check a box – that won’t help you; you have to actually be interested for a person to open up to you. Also, I didn’t just try to talk to the president of the consulting club, but also the public speaking club, the beer club, Johnson bloggers, and a few others.
Accepted: What advice would you give MBA students starting business school in September?
David: Take time for yourself. Things can get crazy busy in an MBA. At times it is with classes and at other times it’s with social events. Some people relax with video games, others with yoga, and still others by writing. Whatever your method of relaxation, take time to do it. You might not realize how bad you need time for reflection when you’re in the thick of it, so think about it ahead of time. Block in off in your calendar. Whatever you do, take that time for you.
It’s going to be an amazing 2 years. Good luck!
Thank you David for sharing your story with us!