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 an interview with Ginika Agbim O’Kelly…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What are a couple of your hobbies?
Ginika: My name is Ginika Agbim O’Kelly. I am Nigerian, grew up in Atlanta, and am married to an English-Irish man. I studied Economics & Strategy, Finance, and Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. I was interested in studying human behavior and decision-making from multiple angles. For fun, I started a fashion column in the school newspaper and organized African fashion shows every year. Today, I also run a blog on my website, run for exercise, and travel at every chance I get!
Accepted: Can you tell us a bit about your path to business school? What were you working in previously? What made you decide to pursue an MBA?
Ginika: Business school is interesting for me, because at one point in my life, I actually wanted to become a doctor. Through working in consulting after graduating from Wash U, I still find myself exercising those same diagnostic and problem solving skills. I knew that I wanted to pursue an MBA because, now that I have analyzed issues in real organizations, I want to improve my skills as a leader and strategic thinker, and also meet many incredibly innovative people changing the world.
Accepted: How did you decide on MIT?
Ginika: I chose MIT Sloan for two main reasons. First, there is the flexible curriculum and the action-learning philosophy. MIT’s motto is Mens et Manus (Mind and Hand), and having the ability to apply concepts that I learn in the classroom to help real organizations move forward fits with my learning style. After the first, rigorous core semester, I can choose the courses I take and engage in Action Labs, which allow me to advise global organizations on pressing issues. Second, not only are the students and alums at MIT Sloan impressive, but they are also collaborative and very humble. I knew this dynamic environment would challenge me to grow both professionally and personally.
Accepted: What was the most challenging part of the MBA application process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?
Ginika: The most challenging part of the process is managing your own psychology. Applying can be quite emotional sometimes, and you may find yourself doubting your abilities. To deal with the emotional stress, I relied on my husband and our families, as well as prayer, meditation, yoga, running, and lots of tea! These resources helped me focus, stay true to myself, and put things into perspective. If you’re going to be great in life, it will happen, with –or – without the MBA degree.
Accepted: What are your top three tips for applicants preparing for the MBA application process?
Tip 1: Start early. Things can go wrong on GMAT test day, the essays will definitely take longer than anticipated, and if you’re anything like me, you want to get all your applications completed by Round 1 so that you can enjoy Christmas vacation. Take the GMAT as early as you can. Life happens, but if you start early, you give yourself the best possible chance to reach your personal application deadlines and submit applications that best capture who you are.
Tip 2: Talk to people. Though it may seem daunting to reach out to friends or strangers about your MBA ambitions, just do it. People who have “been there and done that“ know more than you regarding business school and succeeding in your future career, so it’s always best to research, reach out, and listen. I talked to my mentors, admissions advisors, current students, alumni, business executives, etc. Talk to people in the careers you hope to enter and at the schools you wish to attend.
Tip 3: Find healthy ways to relieve stress. Applying while working is tough because you can’t give excuses in the office and you have to give 100% in your applications. Re-assess how you spend your time in a 7-day period. Find a support system and know that someday, you’ll be on the other side. And if business school doesn’t work out, keep pushing for your dreams anyway.
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Thank you Ginika for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!