March Madness

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Although most of the country thinks of basketball when they hear March Madness, there’s another type of March Madness taking place right now. For the round two MBA applicants it’s go time. Most programs release admissions decisions during the month of March. The waiting game is mostly over.

For me it seems like time is passing by so slowly. I’ve never wanted the time to go by so quickly. Regardless of the decision, I just want to know. Especially since I will have to make a decision pretty quickly. Most programs require students to submit their deposit, which is the official acceptance, in April or May.

Most programs do a great job of providing admitted students with additional information in an effort to help them with their decision. Current students and alumni provide admitted students with their perspective of the program through phone calls, coffee chats, and emails. Admitted students receive access to a portal of information. Social media is also a new factor to allow admitted students to communicate. There are admitted students weekends at which students and their partners can attend to explore the area and learn more about the program. It also gives the programs a chance to show off and encourage students to officially accept admission to their program. At this point, students may have a few offers on the table.

Well, my fingers will be permanently crossed this month. Wish me luck!

My Final Round 2 Interview

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Well, I’ve had a busy month! In February I traveled to interview and visit three MBA programs. Earlier in the month I also went to Florida on vacation. This weekend I completed my final round two interview. Unfortunately I visited Goizueta during a break so there weren’t a lot of activities to partake in. I flew in on Friday morning and worked from the hotel. If you are looking for a place to stay in Atlanta, I highly recommend the Emory Conference hotel. I felt like I was visiting an up north lodge. It was surrounded by trails and had a warm cottage feeling. Just a short walk away was a street with restaurants and shops. Emory was basically located across the street next to the CDC. Emory has one of the most beautiful college campuses. Most of the buildings are detailed with old architecture filled with character. Other buildings on Emory’s campus are extremely modern in design.

On Saturday morning I had the pleasure of visiting an old friend who lives in the area. She recently moved to Atlanta and it’s been the perfect place to grow a family. One of the benefits is definitely the weather. It was about 50 degrees, but coming from a Michigan winter it felt like it was 80 degrees in Atlanta.

Saturday afternoon I enjoyed a student led tour of Emory. The student was very passionate about her experience with Goizueta. Her husband graduated from the program a few years ago and both have been pleased with their experience. The student was also quite honest and confirmed the horrible Atlanta traffic stories. She also mentioned during the first semester she sometimes was at the school until 3AM working on projects or studying for an exam. I have heard similar stories at other campuses. Students complete all but one core class during their first semester at Goizueta. During this time the students are also recruiting so it becomes a very busy time of year. I’m sure it’s all worth it in the end.

A 2014 alumni interviewed me. Again this interview was pretty typical for what I have seen so far. For some reason I don’t feel like this was my best interview. Although I think we connected, there were a few answers I wish I had changed. He asked me what else do I want the admissions committee to know and I gave a relatively vague answer instead of bringing up community services experiences. That was an area of my resume we hadn’t gotten to. During another question he asked me about my biggest work accomplishment and what portions of that experience did I actually manage. Although the example I gave was a meaningful one, I don’t know if I explained it very well. Sometimes I find myself getting too much into the details of the experience instead of giving a quick overview and reinforcing the points of the story. During every story I’ve been told you should provide an overview, background knowledge, ensure you clearly define the main points, and then explain the learnings or outcome. I hope my interview was still insightful as to why I am a good candidate for Goizueta.

Although there weren’t a lot of activities taking place this weekend at Emory, I had the opportunity to exchange emails and phone calls with current students. They were all very responsive and willing to answer any questions I had. The students shared useful insights about the program and life in Atlanta. Their passion makes me even more enthused about the possibility of joining Goizueta. Luckily I’ll hear back this week about the admissions decision. Wish me luck!

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.

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!

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! 😉