Learn how real students and recent grads have navigated their way through the business school admissions process and b-school itself with our What is Business School Really Like? series.
Meet Trevor, a full-time MBA student at U. of Arizona. Trevor’s journey to his MBA speaks to his personal values of Respect, Honesty, Diligence, and Aloha.
Trevor, thank you for sharing your story with us!
Let’s start at the beginning… Where did you go to undergrad and what did you major in?
Trevor: I completed my undergrad at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for my Bachelor’s in Secondary Education-English Language Arts and my Master’s in Educational Foundations.
As a school teacher, what was your inspiration or epiphany for deciding to pursue an MBA?
Trevor: My inspiration was twofold. First, I wanted to be able to build generational wealth so my family would not have to struggle like we did when I was a kid. As I looked 20 years on the horizon, my salary as a teacher would still be significantly less than many entry level tech roles.
Second, I knew what I did in my classroom mattered—I absolutely loved teaching. Though, I knew I could inspire more kids by scaling my reach…I had no idea how I would do it (I still don’t!), but I took the leap anyway.
During the application process, you were also working full-time. What did that look like and how were you able to balance it all?
Trevor: Truth be told, I struggled balancing working 60 hours a week as a teacher/advisor with trying to study for the GMAT and work through the application process. Realistically, this looked like waking up at 4am to lesson plan, prep my classroom, grade papers, and work on student council advisor tasks and working till 5pm, then study and research till about 8 or 9pm…usually the first one in and last one out of work. Not a glamorous experience, but one that humbled me and prepared me for the rigorous MBA program!
Which “tools” – such as an app, technique, lifehack, website, guide, mantra, or advice – got you through the application process and into your target school?
Trevor: Find your outlets. I had such an amazing group of support around me, and I could not be more grateful. From my boss bringing me food when she saw me working late to students surprising me with coffee to get through a tough day—your support system matters.
I was never the academic with the best test scores (GMAT included!) or a student with natural talent, but I was always an “outwork anyone” kind of person. My advice would be to remember your “why” and keep that close to you as you embark on challenging endeavors. Every day I had the privilege of seeing my students work hard for their future, and I got to work alongside them on my own personal goals, too!
There are so many factors that go into accepting an offer at an MBA program! Which metrics did you use and what was most important to you?
Trevor: Let’s not pretend I got accepted into a Top 10 MBA program (because I did not!), but I did get accepted to a few great schools. I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduate, which made the decision even more scary. I used two “metrics” to decide:
- Trust my Gut. I’ve done the research and ran the numbers, but at the end of the day, I had to trust my gut and commit.
- Perspective Matters. Embarking on my MBA journey was equal parts career growth and personal growth. I was lost, afraid, and frustrated personally and professionally. I needed a place where I would develop both my business acumen, but also my personal self. My mentors and coaches at UA were the most valuable part of the program — I am so grateful for them!
Let’s revisit the day you got your acceptance letter, we’re anxious to know how you celebrated.
Trevor: Senior Luau Night (like a Prom), but for my students in Hawaii we did it a bit different. We had Kolohe Kai (one of Hawaii’s biggest artists) standing by, and a hundred kids dressed in aloha attire ready for a night of fun. An event that my student council team worked on for 2 years. It’s Showtime!
Then a random call from Tucson, Arizona comes in. With a fire extinguisher in one hand (fire knife dancers were on deck!), I answered the phone. I was excited, but this night wasn’t about an MBA. So, the “celebration” was seeing the kids enjoy a great night of food, fun, and good music and making sure the fire knife dancers didn’t burn the place down!
Congratulations on completing your first year! What advice would you give the incoming freshman class starting an MBA program?
Trevor: In the MBA, it’s not about the grades you make, it’s about the hands you shake. Not my quote, but one that fits well! The most value I found was outside the classes. My career coaches, classmates, and alumni mentors were the best parts of the program. It’s easy to miss this, but the big picture matters.
And finally, what advice would you give your younger self?
Trevor: “Slow down. Be grateful.”
I tell myself this every day and it makes a world of difference.
If any of this resonated with you or if you have questions, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn! I love connecting and learning from new perspectives!
Do you want to be featured in our next ‘What is Business School Really Like?’ post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
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- Why MBA?, a free guide
- MBA Application Timeline: How to Get Accepted in 2022
- Testing, Testing, 1-2-3: What’s the Right Test Prep For You?, a podcast episode