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 Jack Mara, a recent UVA Darden MBA graduate (class of 2015).
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where and when did you complete your MBA?
Jack: My name is Jack Mara, I am from Boston, Massachusetts. I went to Union College in Schenectady, New York and studied economics. Recently (‘15) I completed my MBA at Darden Business School (University of Virginia).
Accepted: Can you share three fun facts about yourself?
Jack: I participated in the Pro Soccer Combine (very unsuccessfully), my house was struck by lightning and I am a Patriots fan.
Accepted: Why did you choose Darden? How was Darden the best fit program for you?
Jack: I wanted to go to a business school strong in both consulting and entrepreneurship because those were the two paths I was considering after school. Darden was the best fit for me because of the people and collaborative environment. Darden is not a city school – this means your whole life revolves around the school and Darden community. Darden requires nightly meetings with learning teams, weeding out individuals that do not want to work in a highly collaborative environment.
Accepted: If there was one thing you could change about the program, what would it be?
Jack: The first year program at Darden (the core curriculum) is excellent. The academic program second year – when MBAs start to lose steam in the classroom – is not quite as strong. In my opinion the second year learning needs to shift more towards working to solve actual problems in real time (working on real problems for companies, start-ups, non-profits, etc.).
How to build the best possible educational experience for second year business school students is a dilemma all schools face – not just Darden.
Accepted: Looking back to the MBA application process, what would you say was the most challenging step for you? How did you work to overcome it?
Jack: Despite a substantial amount of time, energy and effort I was rejected from every school I applied to round 1. This rattled my confidence going into round 2. Mentally I reminded myself that I committed to working hard throughout the whole process. The MBA admissions process can be very humbling (it was for me), but I just kept working, kept grinding and great results started to happen.
Accepted: Can you share your top three admissions tips with our readers?
1. People (including me) focus way too much on the rankings when applying and selecting business schools. There are lots of great business schools, and the top companies recruit at a broad range of schools. Focus more on where your personality fits and find the best cultural fit.
2. The process is a bit of a crap shoot – don’t become discouraged about rejections. They do not mean that you are not qualified. There are many highly qualified candidates that are not accepted. Admissions offices are looking for fit and trying to fill out a well-balanced class. Chances are you will not be viewed as a fit at every school – but you will be at some.
3. The waitlist is not a rejection. Plenty of people are admitted off the waitlist, so stay persistent.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your startup 10Thoughts? What was the evolution of the concept?
Jack: As an MBA student at Darden Business School I wanted to stay well versed on important topics and issues across the business world. I was frustrated with the difficulty of finding a broad range of great content on the internet. Searching through many different publications is time consuming and curation algorithms often result in clickbait content that wastes my time.
I started asking my Darden classmates to send me the best article they read each week. It was awesome – I received a range of interesting content leveraging the collective expertise and reading of all my classmates. It hit me that this is the best way for MBAs and people interested in business content to find great articles.
With this concept I founded 10Thoughts to provide great article content recommended, curated and vetted by MBAs. We started at Darden and now have 35% of students at the top 20 schools in the class of 2017 using our platform. Our users enjoy 10Thoughts because it keeps them well versed on relevant content across the business spectrum. We hope you will check us out!
Accepted: What are some of the top articles out there today?
Jack: Here are 5 of the most popular articles over the last couple of weeks on 10Thoughts:
• Inside the Sad, Expensive Failure of Google+
• 19 Subject Line Stats Impacting Our Email Open Rates
• MIT Claims to Have Found a “Language Universal” That Ties All Languages Together
• Entrepreneurs Don’t Have a Special Gene for Risk—They Come from Families with Money
• Netflix CEO’s Plan for World Domination
Make sure you check out 10Thoughts today. Thank you Jack for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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