Accepted.com is continuing a 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.
Here’s a talk with Jason McAlpin, a UNC Kenan-Flagler student who offers insights into the admissions process, student life in Chapel Hill, and his experiences at Coca-Cola. Thank you Jason for sharing your thoughts with us!
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergraduate and when did you graduate?
Jason: I’m originally from Greensboro, NC but attended HS and college in Maryland. I attended high school in Silver Spring, Maryland and completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland in College Park in May of 2008. I graduated with a business degree in Marketing from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at UMD.
Accepted: Why did you decide to attend UNC Kenan-Flagler? What attracted you to the program and is it living up to your expectations?
Jason: I decided to attend KFBS for a number of different reasons, ranging from academic rigor to location to full-time placement statistics to financial aid package. However, the top three reasons for attending KFBS were 1) The Leader Initiative, 2) The welcoming student body and staff, and 3) The school’s proficiency and reputation in both marketing and entrepreneurship.
Accepted: What are some of your favorite things about living in Chapel Hill? Do you think it is a good setting for pursuing a business degree?
Jason: Probably the best thing about living in Chapel Hill is that it is the ultimate college town. With that comes a ton of friendly people and pride in the school and the town. I think Chapel Hill is an excellent setting for pursuing a business degree because you’re in the middle of the East Coast and get recruiters all along the East recruiting at the school. As well, if you’re interested in entrepreneurship, the Research Triangle Park is one of the best areas for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
Jason: My favorite class that I’ve taken to date is Intro to Entrepreneurship. Every class was a different case study on a new startup and the professor really did a great job of pushing his students to look past the obvious in an effort to truly assess the viability of new ventures and new ideas.
Accepted: Did you find the transition back to student life difficult after being out of school for a few years?
Jason: It wasn’t particularly difficult because I was used to working hard and long hours before school. In business school it’s just a different kind of working hard – it’s much more trying to master concepts and studying material versus racing against a clock to execute an initiative.
Accepted: I see you are concentrating in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Are you planning on starting your own business once you receive your MBA? Or do you have another job lined up for next year? If so, what role did KFBS play in helping you secure that position?
Jason: I don’t plan on starting a new business immediately once I graduate from KFBS, but I do hope to have my own business someday. I have played around with an idea for a while but I have no immediate plans to pursue. Instead, I’ve been gearing up for an opportunity that I’m very excited about – an associate brand marketer position at The Coca-Cola Company.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your internship at Coca-Cola?
Jason: My internship at Coca-Cola was fantastic but a ton of hard work. The structure was set up around one major capstone project. For me, I was to work with two new projects under the one of the company’s brands. Additionally, the summer was split up into three different parts:
The first four weeks, I was to conduct a situation assessment of both categories that holds each new product to determine who the consumer was, why they buy, when they buy, trends in the market, major players, etc. In the fifth week I made a formal presentation to the brand floor and major stakeholders of my project.
The middle week was a chance to shift off of your capstone project and work on a completely different project with other brand interns from the Coca-Cola offices in Atlanta, NY and Texas.
Lastly, the last five weeks I spent creating a comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan surrounding the launch of one of the two new products.
In short, it was a great summer with amazing people and an amazing support system around you the entire summer.
Accepted: Do you have any advice for some of our applicants who will be applying to UNC Kenan-Flagler?
Jason: While there’s a ton of different pieces of advice that I would love to give each potential applicant, my main piece of advice would be to not underestimate the quality of the people and environment in your search criteria – this is one of Carolina’s biggest assets and has made for an unforgettable two years.
Accepted: I see that you are a member of the Consortium. Can you share some application tips for other students applying to business school through the Consortium?
Jason: My main advice here would be to think long and hard about the Consortium’s mission and to illustrate how you have supported this mission without knowing it in the past, how you continue to do so now, and how you plan on furthering this commitment in b-school and once you graduate.
Please visit our UNC Kenan-Flagler and Consortium Zone for more McCombs- and Consortium-specific advice. For complete, soup-to-nuts guidance on the MBA admissions process, please purchase Linda Abraham’s new book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools – now available in paperback and Kindle editions!