My Second Visit to the Burgh

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One of the reasons why I even considered Tepper is the location. Last summer I stopped in Pittsburgh on the way home from a road trip. We were vacationing in the Outer Banks and unfortunately we were evacuated because of Hurricane Arthur. That gave us some extra time to explore on our journey home. We stopped in Pittsburgh for the day and fell in love with the city. Pittsburgh is comprised of different sections that all have a very different atmosphere. We started the day in the Strip District where we visited a large scale farmers market. We stopped by Penzeys Spices and Pittsburgh Popcorn-both must visit attractions if you are in the area. The weather was beautiful and we walked along the water. There was a Pirates Game going on that day. If you aren’t aware of it, two of Pittsburgh’s stadiums are located right on the waterfront which really adds to the experience. Across the bridge we spent some time in the SouthSide district. There’s a street that is lined with restaurants, bars, and stores. Before we left, we visited the financial district. That section is mostly filled with businesses and sure does create a great skyline.

Anyways back to the visit review. I had the opportunity to go back to Pittsburgh last weekend to interview. For this trip I had the pleasure of having some company with me. Pittsburgh is less than a 5 hour drive from Detroit so my mom decided to come with me. We drove in Sunday morning and explored the city for the day. The next day began with the interview. During my visit to Duke I scheduled my interview for the end of the day so I could absorb information about the program throughout the day and ensure I used a few buzz words throughout the interview. There are benefits to either approach. During the visit to Tepper I scheduled the interview first thing in the morning. It was certainly nice to have it over with and just enjoy the rest of the visit.

The interview was pretty typical. There were questions about my post MBA plans, why Tepper, and why I decided to pursue business school. The interviewer and admissions team were so welcoming and organized. They had a detailed welcome packet for me to review after the interview which provided information about Tepper and Pittsburgh as well. Some programs provide little information about the city and if you are not from the area, it’s nice to learn more about it.

After the interview I attended an informational session held by the admissions team. It was helpful to learn more about the curriculum. Tepper tries to prepare students for the future business world. The industry is always changing and business leaders need to be prepared for anything. Next I attended a student led tour and lunch. This is usually my favorite part of MBA visits. The current students provide a real perspective which allows you to get a better glimpse of the culture of the school. The student leader of my group was so helpful. He had a similar background and had moved to the area with a partner and a dog, both of which I will be doing. Part of my decision factor will be to determine what job opportunities there are for my partner. He works in corporate finance which provides him with a lot of options in big cities. Although I have not been admitted yet, it’s still always nice to be able to ask lifestyle questions and the student had all the answers. Last, I visited a Financial and Managerial Accounting class. Surprisingly the content didn’t go completely over my head, so that was encouraging. If you’re still reading, thank you. This was a long post! Needless to say, my visit to Tepper inspired me.

Fuqua Weekend Day Two

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The day started with a Career Management Information Session focusing on opportunities in the technology industry. Residing in the Research Triangle Park, Duke is a great place for those interested in tech.

Fuqua also offers opportunities for entrepreneurs such as the Start Up Challenge, Center for Advanced Social Entrepreneurship, and the Fuqua Tech Academy.

There are great resources available through the Career Center. If a company does not traditionally recruit on campus, the Center tries to connect students with the company by utilizing alumni relations. It was nice to hear the Career Center sometimes even helps spouses of MBA students find jobs in the area if they had to relocate.

Here are some quick stats about the 2014 Fuqua alumni.

Average salary $114k (not including bonuses)

Career field by function as a percent of 2014 grads:

Marketing: 21%

Finance: 24%

Strategy: 34%

Management: 16%

Next I attended a Curriculum Panel session led by students. The Fuqua Curriculum is a bit different than other MBA programs. Instead of having no classes on Fridays like most MBA programs, Fuqua students do not have classes on Wednesdays. It’s not a day off though. Club meetings and recruiting events fill up students Wednesday schedules. Apparently, more students stick around on the weekend since they don’t have a 3 day weekend “off.”

In an effort to prepare students for their internship, Fuqua requires all core classes to be completed very early on in the program. Below is an example of the first part of the program curriculum.

Global Institute –Introductory to MBA, 4 weeks

Fall I –core classes, 6 weeks

Fall II –core classes, 6 weeks

Spring I –final core class, rest are electives, 6 weeks

Spring II – electives, 6 weeks

Fuqua students do not receive exact grades on a 4.0 scale. Instead they receive a level of passing or not passing. For example a student may receive a “high passing” status which is somewhat equivalent to a 3.5 grade. Grades are disclosed, which was a decision the students helped make.

After the curriculum session, I attended an information session held by the Partners Club. The club provides opportunities for friendship and camaraderie for the partners of the students. The partners also provided a lot of useful information about places to live in the area. Immediately following this session we were taken on a tour of the school that ended with lunch.

Following lunch I attended a Student Panel session during which the current students answered questions about anything and everything. It was helpful to learn more about the student clubs and roles available within them. I participated in several student clubs during my undergrad and thought it was an irreplaceable learning experience. If accepted to Duke I hope to participate in the AWIB, MBAA, Board Fellows, Marketing Club and of course the Beer Club.

The last session of the day was the Diversity Panel. I enjoyed hearing about different club opportunities to make an impact on campus. AWIB recently administered a survey and compared the results across male and female participants. Female students appeared to have a different perspective and level of acceptance on campus. After the study was analyzed a town hall meeting was called to further investigate and determine ways to improve the experience for females. I found this to be an especially empowering example of the Fuqua culture.

Finally I had my interview at 4PM that day. It was a pretty casual interview with a second year student. There were only two questions that were a bit unexpected. Throughout the interview and the entire weekend, everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. I must say it was a great weekend which ultimately left a great impression of the Fuqua program.

The Fuqua Experience

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I am spending the weekend in Durham, NC to visit Duke and the Fuqua School of Business to learn more about the MBA program. I woke up at 3AM to catch an early flight. By the time I landed in NC I was able to work from “home” for the day and attend Fuqua activities in the evening.

I had the opportunity to attend two MBA classes. The first was a computer science class that prepared students to use Excel performance tools while on the job. The class was similar to “office hours” in the sense that the class was optional to attend. The professor provided additional help and direction. It was really nice to see this side of things. Sometimes prospective students think grad school is a completely cut throat environment where you fend for yourself. From what I’ve seen, this is not the case. Both the students and faculty have been nothing but supportive to the students and want them to succeed.

The second class was a marketing research section. It was more of a lecture format with approximately 70 students in attendance. It seemed to be similar to the “typical class.”

After the classes, a group of prospective students went to Fuqua Friday. It’s an event held every week for the students and their families to attend. During this event, students and their families get to relax and bond over food and drinks. The event was very well attended this week. There were several current students who were kind enough to spend time with me and some other prospective students during their Friday night off. They were not “buddies” assigned to us. They simply saw us and shared their thoughts and experiences with us. The students were extremely welcoming and answered all of our questions. I’ve found speaking with current students is invaluable during school trips. They help to provide a different level of insight into the school.

My experience with Fuqua so far has exceeded my expectations. I agree with the slogan, Fuqua is “rethinking the boundaries of business school.” I am looking forward to my fun filled busy day at Fuqua tomorrow!

A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

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At times this MBA journey has challenged me. It hasn’t been an easy path. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never wanted to give up and I’ve never questioned my decision to apply for grad school. But, if you haven’t started your journey, please realize this is not an easy process.

I truly believe there’s no personal growth if your goals are handed to you. Throughout this journey so far I’ve learned a lot and grown from the experience.

I’m happy to say the hard work is paying off in other ways. I’ve received an invitation to interview at 4 out of the 5 schools I’ve applied to. I am beyond elated for this opportunity.

I also realize there is a lot of work to be done. Several schools have seen an increase in applicants this year. I have been reading MBA books in an effort to prepare for my interviews. In addition to finalizing research on individual schools, I’ve also been regularly reading MBA blogs. Use caution when subscribing. Although most blogs have a lot of great content and user generated discussions, some are a bit misleading. Here are a few independent blogs I have been frequenting:

http://blog.clearadmit.com/

http://poetsandquants.com/category/mba-blogs/

Some school programs have their own blogs too. In addition to events and updates, there are tips that have helped throughout the application process.

https://blogs.fuqua.duke.edu/duke-mba/

https://michiganross.umich.edu/admissions-blog

Both programs and current students claim the interview is usually an “open conversation” instead of a formal interview. I have read some horror stories though about some grad school interviews. Some of the questions seem more difficult than the questions Google asks during interviews. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime I’m going to keep researching!