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 David Donahue, a student at Dartmouth Tuck.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
David: Originally I am from Ashland, Massachusetts. I spent my early years going to a small school outside of Boston and then had the opportunity to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. I was a big athlete in high school (or at least I thought I was) and used sports as a vehicle to get me into an academically strong college.
While at Bowdoin, I studied Government and Legal Studies as well as English. I really enjoyed writing and those two areas allowed me to explore that passion.
I also played football and lacrosse during school, both were huge factors in my decision to join the Marines after graduation.
Accepted: Where are you in business school? What year?
David: I am currently entering the final semester of my first year at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Accepted: Why Tuck? How was it the best fit for you?
David: Tuck was the best fit for me for a few reasons:
1. The small class size enables me to build a strong relationship with my classmates and professors.
2. The close-knit community was a great place for our family. My wife was able to get a job in the Tuck Alumni Giving office and my daughter was fortunate enough to get a spot at the Dartmouth daycare facility. Additionally, living in Sachem Village (Tuck’s graduate student housing) has enabled my wife and I to build strong relationships with other couples at Tuck.
3. The strong alumni network facilitated in me learning more about Tuck during my school search process and also in getting a job once at school.
4. The Tuck Tripod League (intramural hockey) was a way for me to stay active during the week while building strong relationships with the rest of my class, the second years, and other members of the Tuck community.
Accepted: Can you talk about your military experience and how it led you or inspired you to head to business school?
David: Following graduation at the Infantry Officer Course, I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, California as a platoon commander for 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. I did a deployment as a platoon commander to Afghanistan and then a subsequent deployment as a platoon commander in support of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
I was then sent to Quantico, Virginia to be an instructor at The Basic School and the Infantry Officer Course (IOC). While at IOC, I was fortunate enough to lead the design and implementation of exercises that tested current and future Marine Corps equipment for potential future operating environments.
I think that the problem-solving involved with the exercises and knowing that the work I was doing was going to have an impact on the future of the Marine Corps helped shape my decision to go to business school. I truly enjoyed the problem-solving, I liked working with other motivated people, and I loved the fact that this work was going to help positively impact the lives of Marines.
In addition to the aforementioned factors, I also got married in 2013 and then had a baby girl in 2015. Although I really enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps and will never forget the people I met and the lessons I learned, I also wanted an opportunity to be at home with my family in the future on a consistent basis.
Accepted: Can you tell us about Tuck’s upcoming Military Visit Day?
David: Absolutely! Tuck, along with the Armed Forces Alumni Association, has designed a day geared towards potential future military applicants in order to help them learn more about what makes Tuck such as awesome place to be as well as help future applicants be set up for success with their applications.
There is time in the schedule for the applicants with the Admissions Committee, Career Development Office, Financial Aid Office, current military students, and also wives of current students. I was unfortunately unable to attend the event last year because my daughter was born two weeks prior, but I heard great things from my friends who were able to go.
If you are at all interested in applying to business school and Tuck is on your radar, then the Military Visit Day is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the application process in general and more importantly, what makes Tuck such a great business school for veterans.
Accepted: What are your top 3 tips for b-school applicants with military backgrounds?
Tip # 1: Start learning to talk about yourself. The school absolutely cares about your leadership skills and your potential added-value to the school but they care about the personal impact that you had. How specifically did you train 100 Marines to get ready for a deployment? What sets you apart from other applicants? It’s okay to replace the “we” with an “I” here or there in an effort to really explain your impact.
Tip # 2: Determine the learning environment in which you would be the most successful. Do you excel in large or small classes? Do you like the lecture or case method? Do you like working in groups or individually? Do you want to pick all of your own classes or do you want to be part of a more general curriculum? Understanding the environment in which you would be most successful is crucial to narrowing down the schools that appeal the most to you.
Tip # 3: What’s your story? Why did you join the military? Why do you want to go to business school? What do you want to do after business school? Schools put a lot of emphasis on these parts, both with the essays and with the interviews. Spend the time thinking about these questions and make sure you can explicitly answer each of them (and be convincing).
Accepted: What are your post-MBA plans? Do you have an internship lined up yet? If so, what role did Tuck play in helping you secure that position?
David: Post Tuck, my goal is to be a strategy consultant at a large international firm.
I recently accepted a summer internship offer with Deloitte Consulting in their Strategy & Operations sector in Boston, MA, which I am extremely excited about.
Tuck played a role in helping me to secure the internship by helping to facilitate on-campus information sessions with Deloitte as well as coordinating a “Consulting Trek” down to Boston to visit the Deloitte office. Tuck also does a great job of putting you in contact with Tuck alumni at whichever company you are interested.
One of the most special things about Tuck is just how strong the alumni network is. I was able to learn a ton about Deloitte’s Boston office through the Tuckies and military veterans who work there which absolutely helped shape my decision to apply to the office.
Thank you David for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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