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!

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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!

Things are Looking up with an Invite from Tepper

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I was so excited to receive an invite to interview with Tepper! I visited Pittsburgh this summer and am looking forward to going back to interview. My interview and travel plans are booked. Now it’s time to begin to prepare!

Staying Organized

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I am heading into the final preparation time before submitting my MBA applications. Luckily I started early and have given myself ample time to apply. In the Summer I was consistently checking program websites to see when the essay questions would be shared. Most programs updated their 2015 application cycle information in August. In an effort to keep organized, I created a Google doc to track information and progress.

I have a row for each program I have explored. After eliminating programs from my list I’ve hid the information to avoid clutter. The columns provide information such as links to key areas within the websites, MBA profile information, and special concentration offerings. I’ve also tracked the basic information such as deadlines, event information, and financial aid offerings.

The doc has helped reduce the amount of times I’ve needed to double check a date on a website. It’s also helped me create a schedule and keep me on track. I highly suggest creating something similar to ensure you don’t miss an application deadline.

I am probably going to refrain from blogging for awhile to ensure I stay focused. But I will definitely recap all of my experiences once I’ve finished my apps.

The Fuqua Offerings

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Unfortunately I was not able to attend Duke’s Women’s Weekend. I was very disappointed because it looked like a great event. I had a really important presentation at work and couldn’t get away. Luckily, I was able to make a visit earlier this year. While visiting I spoke to an admissions team member who answered many of my questions about the program. He provided a great perspective about the international opportunities offered. I am interested in quite a few of them! If admitted, I am unsure how I’m going to narrow down my options. One of my favorite offerings is the GATE program. With the GATE program students learn about business practices and the culture of the region they later travel to. Although some of the treks from other programs sound like fun trips, the GATE program offers a more comprehensive experience. I have been fortunate to have international experience with several of my jobs, but am seeking additional experiences.

Later in my career I want to pursue a leadership role at a nonprofit. Although I am involved with several nonprofits now at a volunteer level, I want to contribute in a larger way in the future. The Fuqua program at Duke offers a program called Fuqua on Board which allows students to join the board of a nonprofit for a term. A lot of the fellow prospective students at the events I’ve attended are interested in working in the nonprofit sector. This offering might be the experience you’re looking for. Read on for additional information: http://www.caseatduke.org/mba/fuquaonboard/

UNC Women’s Workshop

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Unfortunately I was not able to bring home the warm weather from North Carolina, but I’m happy to say I brought a lot of great experiences and memories with me. I instantly felt welcomed at UNC. My visit was consistent with the visit I had over the summer. I was traveling through NC as part of a road trip and made a stop to visit the school. One of the admission directors took an hour out of her day to talk to me about the program. I had expected to talk to a secretary for 5 minutes and be given a few brochures. It was such a nice surprise to have a personal intro to the program. I realize these programs get thousands of applicants annually and can’t always spend individual time with each applicant.

UNC’s Women’s Workshop had a similar format to the WILC weekend, but the days were switched. The first day at UNC was a formal workshop. I had an interview in the morning so I missed the morning session. Throughout the day there were presentations featuring professors, alumni, and other women in business. One of the speech professors was especially engaging and had everyone out of their seats for the discussion. I learned a lot of great presentation tips in the short half hour we spent together. One of my favorite presentations was from Michele Buck, the North American President of the Hershey Company. She gave a look into the life of a mom with a business career. That evening we had a social event with current students. We were assigned a buddy that seemed to have similar career interests. My buddy was so helpful! She provided program information but I was also able to ask her about more personal questions about topics such as housing options.

The next day we attended an admissions event which featured a panel session Q&A. Current students also joined the event and even asked the admissions team to leave for one section allowing prospective students to ask “real” questions. The current students were so welcoming throughout the entire experience. It was great to see this involvement; I’m sure they are busy with many other things right now! One of the students had participated in a 24 hour case study challenge and still attended the event. We even had a chance to meet the new dean at a formal lunch in one of the gorgeous campus buildings (see photo). The dean seems to be well respected within the community. Overall the experience at the UNC Women’s Workshop provided a warm and an insight into student life.

Ross WILC

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I had the pleasure of visiting the University of Michigan for the Ross WILC weekend. There were about 30 prospective students who attended. There was an optional VIP visit which included a tour and class visit during the day on Thursday. I already participated in a VIP visit in the past, so I decided to opt out of this portion of the visit. I was taking Friday off of work and didn’t want to take two days off if I didn’t have to.

Thursday night we checked in and then had a formal kickoff dinner at the school. Three current students spoke about their experiences in the program. Alumni were also present and shared their success stories. It was really helpful to talk to them one on one and be able to ask simple questions about their experience. We’ve all read about the program, but it makes such a difference to visit the school and talk to current students. At night we went to an offsite event and got to mingle with current students.

The next day we attended the official WILC conference. Not only prospective students, but also women in business were invited to attend. The presenters were great. All of the sessions were really empowering. One of my favorite sessions featured business leader Shelley Zalis. She gave a great discussion about the value women add to the boardroom. Women are often criticized for being emotional, but Shelley made a great point about how emotions do belong in the business world. Employees are real people and if managers do not use emotions within the work environment, we will not be able to connect with our team members.

A 2014 alumni spoke about her experience at Ross and about how it has helped her in the workplace. It was nice to hear from a recent alumn. As always, Soojin Kwon gave great insights about Ross. If you haven’t already reviewed her blog, I’d recommend reading it: https://michiganross.umich.edu/admissions-blog

After the conference there was another event which allowed prospective students to meet current students. Throughout the weekend I was able to bond and connect with other prospective students. I hope to meet them again, maybe somewhere in the Fall of 2015! 😉