How do you sell them on what makes Mendoza different from many other MBA experiences?
The first is the strength of the alumni network. The University of Notre Dame is unparalleled when it comes to the passion of the alumni. There are 276 alumni clubs around the world. If you come to this community, you are inspired by a passion for this place that never leaves you. Having access to that network is one of the most valuable gains from their experience here.
When it comes to our program, everything students do, from the way they solve problems to the way they set goals is all informed by Notre Dame’s philosophy. Students leave this place with a sense of ethics that informs the decision making in every aspect of their work. Ethics is not a new trend at Notre Dame. It is not an emerging focus in response to current events. It is woven into the fabric of this institution. A student who comes here wants that perspective.
There also are some opportunities academically that are different here: business on the front lines is an opportunity for students to travel and look at the rule of business in rebuilding community. We have live cases with Fortune 500 companies where our students can apply the learning in a hands-on way to work on actual business problems. And there are all kinds of other activities that lead to travel abroad. We have (two-week) interterm immersions in China, Brazil and Chile. A seven-week fall immersion in Santiago, Chile, and summer internships that allow MBAs to spend eight weeks working with organizations in Kenya, Cambodia, Egypt and many other places. Students travel all over the world during their time here.
Part of our appeal is that we are a smaller program. Our students get to know each other on a personal level. The same is true with the faculty and staff. Our career coaches—all industry experts with more than 10 years of experience working in the field—have relationships with our alumni and the companies that recruit our students. We have a commitment to meet individually with each student as they go through the program.
So there is an extraordinary amount of personal attention to every student. Our career development staff has a big bell mounted on the wall and every time a student gets an internship or a job they ring the bell. It’s a thrill to hear that bell ring. it’s exciting for all of us. There is usually a round of applause.
So what does the ideal Mendoza candidate look like?
One thing that is clear to me from day one is the ideal student is one who fully engages in this community. They want to know everybody. They want to take on leadership roles in clubs and organizations. We are a smaller MBA program and have chosen to be smaller. Students who choose Notre Dame want to have a one-on-one relationship with a career development person.
It’s someone who wants to take an active role in a community and someone who works well on a team. This is a very collaborative program. Students here are collaborating more than they are competing against one another. It’s also not unusual from other schools that we are also looking for academic aptitude.
Consideration of others is also important. We look for evidence of that in our applications. The students who graduate from here are mindful of the impact their business decisions have on other people and on communities. So we look for people who are going to embrace the focus on ethics at Notre Dame.
You are an East Coaster, born in Elmira, New York. So how was it that you got your start in admissions in Indiana?
I went to St. Mary’s Ccllege, directly across the street from here. It is a small women’s college and I loved my experience. It was life-changing. Once I graduated I wanted to have a job that would allow me to tell more people about my experience. I started as an admissions counselor at St. Mary’s in 1995 and loved it. I was anxious to get back to the east coast and so in 1997 I joined Simmons College in Boston as assistant director of undergraduate admissions. I loved it there. It was a place i believed in. They supported my own belief in the values of women’s education.
Then in 1999 I went to Emerson, right downtown on the Boston Common. It was very different a pale where the admission decisions were made by the faculty, but I loved that, too. I realized I didn’t have to work for my alma mater as long as I believe in the mission of the institution and they deliver on the promises they make as an institution. I was working with ten different graduate programs that ranged from creative writing to integrated marketing communication and finding great students for Emerson. I then came back to St. Mary’s in 2010 as director of admissions and just came to Notre Dame four weeks ago.