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The Best Advice Graduating MBAs Have For New B-School Applicants

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“If you get in, go!”

That’s the advice from Emily Groffman, a 2015 graduate of HEC Paris. Leaving Austin, Texas – and a promising job as a business analyst at Apple – Groffman headed to France so she could “study with peers from all over the world.” It was a risky move – one that most talk about with a mix of romanticism and resignation. But Groffman ultimately capitalized on her opportunity. Once dreaming of working for global health or human rights organization, she now heads to Haiti to battle malaria for the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

And Groffman isn’t alone.

This spring, Poets&Quants honored 50 of the most accomplished and daring MBAs from the Class of 2015. Three years ago, many were wondering if business school was really worth it. Some were clinging to their well-paying and steady jobs. Others were wary of taking the GMAT. Like everyone, they worried about disrupting their lives – or facing their limitations (just yet). Still, they carried their dreams. Deep inside, they suspected that their lives could be so much more.

TAKE THE RISK AND MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

In the end, they made the most of their time in business school – and they helped their peers do the same. They transformed, gained life-long friends, and landed their dream jobs. Now, they have advice for those first years and applicants who are following in their footsteps. And it can summed up like this: Don’t be afraid. “Start preparing early, says Daniel Drummer, who’ll be returning to McKinsey after a year at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Be open to new experiences once you get here. And by the way – great choice, you can expect to have an amazing time!”

Anne-Marie Kruk

Anne-Marie Kruk

Anne-Marie Kruk, who graduated from the London Business School, cautions students against taking their time for granted. “Make the most of every single moment, the 2 years go all too quickly! Embrace the learning, friendships, and travel!” At the same time, Jennifer Dare, a Broadway actress-turned-consultant from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, warns students to be ready to make a commitment. “Take a nap, hug your parents, and take all your friends out to a nice dinner; it’s the last you’ll see any of them for a very long time.”

Here is some additional advice from the Class of 2015:

Do Your Homework

“Every school is different.  Take time to understand what makes Booth and how those differences will impact your career.  Then, share that information and understanding in your application.”

-Katlin Smith / University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Visit the school and talk to the students. Go to more than just the recruiting events, go to a random party on campus or a random club event. See if you like the people and the vibes you receive from the community. Every school has its own personally, and fit it so important. I absolutely knew Columbia Business School would allow me to meet all my b-school goals. I loved how helpful the students were during the recruiting process, and that they genuinely cared about who was attempting to join their community. The school has definitely surpassed my expectations”

– George Wilson / Columbia Business School

Victoria Teworte

Victoria Teworte

“Learn as much as possible about IESE – it is not only a decision whether the school admits you, but also whether the school is the right fit for you. Visiting the school during an Open Day is the best way to do so. Speak to as many admissions staff, professors, alumni and current students as possible. What does your gut feeling say? Do your values match IESE’s values? Really think of how an MBA can help you in your career and define your expectations. Can the IESE MBA meet them?”

– Victoria Teworte / IESE Business School

 

Be Different

Jennifer Meacham

Jennifer Meacham

“Be yourself. Take plenty of time before writing your essays to reflect on your personal and professional experience so that you can bring the best and truest version of yourself to the Admissions committee. No other applicant should be able replicate a sentence in your application.”

– Jennifer Meacham / New York University, Stern School of Business

“Don’t be afraid to be different and ask lots of questions – everything is a possibility, even if the first response is a no!”

– Miwa Takaki / Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management

 

Know What’s Important in an Application

 “When you write those infamous essays and prepare for your interview, remember to be yourself. It sounds so cliché but it’s the best advice I can give. MBA applicants think (I was no exception) that they need to craft these elaborate, hyper-intelligent responses. Your chances of admission increase dramatically if you can candidly answer these three questions: 1) Can you do the work? 2) What will you contribute to the class? 3) Does an MBA make sense for your Professional goals?”

– Robyn Peters / Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

“Berkeley-Haas is a place where you will be loved for who you are and pushed to your personal and professional limits. Tell your own story in your applications and be confident that your uniqueness is going to be a huge asset to our class that’s little in size but big in impact.”

– Katie Benintende / University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“For the essays and interviews, consider what makes you unique, which diverse aspects you can bring into the class. I underestimated for instance that my aviation background can be of great importance for the class, since so few people from my industry do an MBA. Apart from that, just be yourself and enjoy!”

– Victoria Teworte / IESE Business School

Gina Bruno

Gina Bruno

Apply When It’s Right For You

“Apply when you are the best candidate you can be—when you know who you are and where you see yourself after graduation. You are a stronger applicant and will ultimately be a more valuable member of your class and your community, if you have a vision for yourself. Don’t rush the process, and don’t feel pressured to apply in the earliest round, unless you truly feel ready. Put your most authentic self forward.”

Gina Bruno / Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management