Here’s a talk with Robyn Ross, an MBA candidate at Toronto Rotman with tons of advice on the MBA application process. Thank you Robyn for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!
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. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where did you study as an undergrad? What did you major in?
Robyn: I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts but my parents are Canadian so I have always spent summers and family vacations up here. I graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 2006 with a double major in Psychology and French. Believe it or not, Psychology and French didn’t point me in a clear path so after graduating I took an opportunity to work abroad in Scotland for a year followed by a few months of traveling before landing back in Boston to work for a business services start-up company.
Accepted: Which other programs were you considering other than Toronto Rotman? What tipped the scales to favor Rotman?
Robyn: While exploring MBA opportunities, I was focused on finding a program within a city that I could see myself living and working in afterwards. One of the important takeaways of an MBA is the network and the relationships that you build throughout it. I wanted to make sure that I could take advantage of that after completing the program. This narrowed my search down to Boston and Toronto. While Boston has very strong schools, I was eager for a change and saw Toronto as an opportunity to experience a bigger, more diverse city. As I researched programs, spoke with admissions offices and current students all schools talked about the fact that they create business leaders. What stood out about Rotman is that they were one of the few schools that told me how they do this. Through their top-ranked faculty and focus on Integrative Thinking, I felt as though I had a really solid grasp of how the program would help me grow as a professional.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about studying in Toronto? Least favorite?
Robyn: My favorite aspect about studying in Toronto is the diversity of opportunities both on and off campus. The size of the city and reputation of the school attracts an incredible range of speakers on campus with my personal favorites including Behavioural Economist Dan Ariely, IDEO’s Tim Brown and the New York Times’ columnist David Brooks. Outside of school, every weekend provides something new. Toronto is made up of many small neighborhoods, each with small shops, restaurants and bars to explore.
My least favorite aspect of studying in Toronto is the high cost of living. While there are a lot of benefits to being located in downtown Toronto, they come with a price. Rent is on par with Boston and other cities that I have lived in; however, the costs of other everyday necessities like food, public transportation, cell phones, and clothing are higher. The transition back to a student budget was a challenge in itself and the high cost of downtown living makes it a bit trickier.
Accepted: Can you recommend a cozy coffee shop or library – a good spot to hang out with friends and/or study?
Robyn: My favorite place to escape campus for a coffee with friends is L’espresso by Mercurio, a café around the corner from Rotman. Their lattes and biscotti are the perfect pick-me-up after a morning of classes.
Accepted: What was the internship application process like? What role did Rotman play in helping you secure your summer internship at Bain & Company?
Robyn: The internship application process is intense. I started the program without a hard-set idea of what I wanted to do afterwards. Throughout the fall, as I networked with people both on and off campus, I narrowed my search to management consulting. While I have had a lot of experience on both sides of the typical “behavioral” interview, the consulting case interview was entirely new to me. I would never have been as successful had it not been for the Rotman Management Consulting Association and second year students that organized weekly workshops, resume review sessions, and mock interviews throughout the fall and early winter. My classmates were also incredibly collaborative, and we spent hours each week giving each other mock interviews and providing feedback.
Each of the firms came on campus through Rotman’s Career Center in January with interviews starting immediately afterwards. Throughout the interview process I was most surprised by how hands-on each of the firms were. After interviews, whether successful or not, each firm provided very constructive feedback that helped me grow and improve throughout the recruiting process. Overall, it was a combination of my peers, Rotman, and the consulting firms that helped me succeed in landing my internship.
Accepted: What are the MBA Games? What has your experience with the games been like so far?
Robyn: The MBA Games is a three day event where every MBA program within Canada sends a team of students to compete in sports, academics, and school spirit. It is an incredibly fun weekend with over 700 students. Last year the games were in chilly Edmonton, Alberta. My days were filled playing ultimate Frisbee and inner-tube water polo while nights were spent at cowboy bars. This year we’re much closer to home in Hamilton, Ontario. I’ll be suiting up for a Strategy Case Competition and then trying to channel my inner-Canadian with a day of floor-hockey. Overall, it’s a great weekend to meet students from other programs and build close-knit relationships with the 40 Rotman students that are chosen to attend.
Accepted: What was the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process for you and how did you overcome it?
Robyn: The hardest part of the MBA admissions process for me was the personal statements. When I applied, Rotman required (1) 500 word personal statement and (3) 250 word essays. Trying to express everything I wanted to convey in so few words was incredibly challenging. I relied on friends and family to give me honest feedback. The example I remember most clearly was when I sent my father my essay on an example of failure, having spent 2 days coming up with a good example and trying to squeeze it into 250 words. He came back and told me that I had missed the mark and recommended that I start over. As hard as it was to hear, he was absolutely right, and in retrospect it helped me recognize the importance of having people around you who provide you with honest feedback and help you to grow and improve.
For one-on-one guidance on the Rotman application, please see our Toronto Rotman Business School packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Rotman, please see Toronto Rotman 2013 Essay Questions, Deadlines, and Tips written by Accepted.com president, Linda Abraham.
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