Here’s a talk with Jordan Williams, a student at the Wisconsin School of Business and a member of The Consortium with a passion for graffiti art, travel, and, of course, business education. Thank you Jordan for sharing your thoughts 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: 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?
Jordan: I am originally from Chicago, but I’ve been living on the east coast for the better part of a decade. I graduated from Bates College in 2008 with a double major in African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies. I wrote my senior Honors Thesis on the roles race and gender played in Parisian graffiti communities. I’ve had some tremendous opportunities to travel and grow through my adventures overseas, but I am excited to be back in the Midwest and close to Chicago again.
Accepted: Why did you decide to attend the Wisconsin School of Business? Which other programs did you consider?
Jordan: I was a faculty member and website manager at the Middlesex School, and I had the privilege of relaunching their website after the school rebranded. The process introduced me to discipline, and the Tuck Business Bridge Program at Dartmouth solidified my passion for marketing. While attending the Tuck program I was introduced to an employee who was planning to matriculate to the Wisconsin School of Business. Laura mentioned that Wisconsin offered a brand specialization, which was appealing because I wanted my professional studies to be more focused than my liberal arts undergraduate studies.
I also applied to Kellogg and Cornell, but Wisconsin’s community and curriculum set it apart. The size of the program facilitates a “band of brothers” dynamic among students. Students genuinely supported one another and this atmosphere resonated with me. I was also impressed with how the curriculum balanced theoretical and applied business principles. The applied learning series brings in industry leaders every week to share their experiences and current business challenges. The network Wisconsin has was impressive, and it was clear that the supportive ethos existed at the alumni level as well.
Accepted: What are some of your favorite things about living in Madison? Least favorite?
Jordan: What’s not to love about Madison? I am such a fan of the city that I am working with the Visitor’s Bureau to develop a new integrated marketing campaign for the city so it can attract more leisure travelers. It is a project for my Brand Communications class.
I love the cheese curds, the micro brews, the bike trails, the UW sports culture, and the flavor of the city. Madison is an affordable city that has a menu of activities. It is a multi-dimensional city, and it has been a delight to explore it.
If it had San Diego’s climate, it would be the greatest city in the U.S. But as is, it is still top 25.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
Jordan: It is hard to pick favorites, but one class stands apart. The first is the applied learning series that we attend every Friday. Each week we are introduced to marketers from myriad industries, and they share business insights and challenges with us. For example, Nestle brand managers share how they write a creative brief for an agency, and Whitewave brand managers challenge us to think through the rise of private label milk, which is a real issue milk producers face. The applied learning series is an excellent example to take the theoretical lessons learned in Jan’s marketing classes and apply them to living business cases or incorporate the principles of operational management to a marketing case. The applied learning series is an opportunity to apply the frameworks we spend all week exploring.
Accepted: Do you have an internship lined up for next year? If so, what role did Wisconsin play in helping you secure that position?
Jordan: I will be a brand marketing intern at MillerCoors Brewing in Chicago, IL. I do not know which brand I will be working on, but I am very excited to work with such a great company.
Amanda Truppe and Erin Nickelsburg helped me to show my best self during interviews. They not only taught me interview fundamentals and tactics, but they also encouraged me to push harder. They inspired me, and motivated me to find the connections between my background in education and my passion for marketing. However, I would be remised not to mention the roles the Wisconsin alumni network played. A half dozen alumni donated their time so that I could practice interviewing in person and by phone. I look forward to giving back in the same way when I am an alumnus.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your graffiti art research and your related travels? Your LinkedIn profile indicates that you have a strong background in art — have you found a way to connect this passion with your MBA studies?
Jordan: In 2006 I received a Hoffman research grant from Bates College to complete Honors Thesis research on graffiti, gender, and race in Paris, France. Over the course of the next 2 years, I conducted various research projects on the same subject across Europe. Although I am no longer actively studying graffiti, I am still inspired by the medium and its culture. Graffiti is marketing. Writers think about placement and targeting when they decide to paint a piece on a train, positioning when they choose their name or style, and packaging when they pick their colors. Graffiti and street art introduced me to design, and I have applied my design thinking and mind to many group projects during my MBA studies, particularly my Launching New Products class. Graffiti taught me to be unafraid of rapid prototyping and bold ideas, but most importantly, it instilled a rigorous work ethic. Graffiti writers don’t have coaches. They don’t have anyone telling them to paint, and yet Writers are relentless. I try to apply this ethos to my studies and my professional life.
Accepted: Do you have any advice for some of our applicants who will be applying to Wisconsin?
Jordan: Know yourself. Think deeply about what your brand is. Think deeply about the environments that make you thrive. Think deeply about your goals. I have found success at Wisconsin because the environment, ethos, curriculum, and people harmonize with who I am and my core values. Not every school is the same. Go out and touch and feel a school to understand if it is the right fit. Life can’t be googled. Life has to be lived.
Accepted: I see that you are a member of the Consortium. What attracted you to the Consortium program? Is the program living up to your expectations?
Jordan: When I attended a business school fair in Boston, I had the pleasure of speaking with an admissions counselor from Cornell. I shared my passion for social justice, and he gave me some promotional information. I might have never found the Consortium if it wasn’t for that conversation, and I am grateful I introduced myself and that we spoke. I pursued the Consortium application because I want to dedicate my career in business to more than increasing shareholder value. I have always wanted to give part of myself to something larger, and I believe this commitment is reflected in the Consortium’s mission. The Consortium introduced me to other students and business people who are diversity and inclusion stewards, activists, and advocates. The community empowers me to act, and it never lets me lose sight of my core values and aspirations. The Consortium has surpassed my expectations, and I look forward to paying the gifts it has presented forward.
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