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!

MBA Weekend Visit Applications

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I’ve decided to apply to the U of M Women’s Weekend instead of the Kellogg weekend since they’re taking place at the same time. Really I should apply to both in case I don’t get into one. But I also don’t want to turn one down. And I’m already tight on time. These applications add up! I really wonder how much time to put into these apps. All of the apps require you to submit personal profile information, a resume, and 1-2 essays. Some of the essays will be great exercises for the actual essays I’ll need to write later. The questions are of similar nature. “Why do you want to get a MBA?” and “What have you accomplished so far in the work force?” are a few of the questions. I wonder how much time applicants are spending on these. Maybe they let everyone into the weekend but want to make sure you’re interested. Or maybe there are a limited amount of spots available and there is competition. I don’t even know how large of a group will be attending. I doubt I’ll be able to find out these answers.

I’m thinking about being a bit bold in my essays. Now’s the time to experiment a bit with not as much being on the table here. However, I did hear from an admissions member once that any communication you have with the school is part of the overall interview process and affects their perception of you. I’m definitely not going to take these essays lightly, or be too bold. But I would say boldness is part of my personality. And they want you to be sincere right? We’ll see!

A Second Chance

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I took the GMAT for a second time earlier this week. In the time that has passed since I first took the test, I’ve been putting in a lot of hours and even saw a tutor a couple times. Unfortunately my preparation was not enough to get me the score I was aiming for. However, I did improve my overall score, so at least some progress was made.

This puts me in a tricky spot. I was hoping to apply by the round two deadline which is in about a week or so for most schools. The GMAT can only be taken once every 31 days. The test is changed every 31 days. I am not able to take the test again prior to applying. Although a GMAT test score is one part of an application and the acceptance is not dependent on the score, the score still matters. And applications are often the determination factor of scholarship funding. I want to put my best foot forward and apply with a “good” GMAT score.

Now I need to decide whether I will try to apply to round three or wait until next year. Round three is not the most ideal round to apply to. Sometimes scholarships are not offered to round three applicants. Also it’s assumed most spots are already filled up and there isn’t much room for round 3 applicants in the class. It also may look like applicants “waited until the last minute” to apply. One of the acceptance factors considered is if an applicant is “ready” for graduate school. The factors that contribute to being “ready” may be maturity, work experience and academic preparation. If a prospective student is applying in round 3, there are only a few months before the program would begin. That’s not much time to wrap up any further growing that’s needed. Decisions, decisions. I don’t want to wait another year to apply, but I need to do what’s best in the long run. I also knew I should’ve taken more time to study before applying.

Post Test

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Since I have about a month before my next test, I’ve decided to try a new study technique. My friend used a tutor to help with studying. I have never had a tutor for anything before. And to be honest I’m a bit unsure about this. There’s nothing wrong with getting help from a tutor. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t eventually learn it on your own. You’re utilizing a tool to help evaluate your weaknesses and quickly gain knowledge.

I’m going to try using a private tutor. It’s much more cost effective than going through a big name GMAT prep company. We’re going to meet at a local coffee shop. Thankfully I didn’t even have to request that. I’m old fashioned but in this day in age it’s always good to meet new people in public. Unfortunately, it’s a busy season right now so he cannot even meet for a couple weeks. He’s offering a free “evaluation session.” Wish me luck!

It’s Over

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It’s over. My first GMAT test is officially over. I don’t really feel relieved. Well, I’m not exactly sure what to think of my GMAT score. I took the test last week for the first time after studying for about two months. I knew I wasn’t ready for the test, but with the shortened timeline I’ve given myself, I wanted to take the test twice.
Most people aren’t as open about their progress and wouldn’t even think about sharing their scores. I’m going to be honest because I think it’s part of the story I’m telling. I got a 570. Obviously I’m far from where I want my score to be, but for a first try, I’m not devastated.
Overall I performed better on the Verbal section than Quan. Not surprised there. I did especially well at IR, and I think I did pretty well on the writing section. Typically schools don’t look at those sections too closely. I’ve heard they really look at the overall score (the 400-800 number) and the individual scores for the Quan and Verbal section.
One immediate learning point I noticed is I did not manage my time well. I had to guess for quite a few questions at the end of each section. I’ve always been a slow test taker. In high school they gave us as much time as we wanted to take tests. Maybe the luxury was really an evil.
Well, time to hit the books again. My next test is in just over a month.