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

Audrey Horn

Audrey Horn

Know Who You Are and What You Want

“By mindful of what you hope to get out of the experience. Coming in targeted about what skill sets you want to gain and what experiences you want to have will keep you focused. Returning to those goals will help across all decisions you will make, from what clubs to join to what classes to take to what jobs to apply for.”

– Audrey Horn / University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Business school is a great time to take a step back and be intentional about the type of employee, colleague, and manager that you want to be. Take the opportunity to create your personal brand. Carlson is the perfect place to create that brand and put it to the test!”

– Alyssa Callister / University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

“Have a vision for what you want coming out of the MBA experience and craft a good plan for yourself.  Be intentional about your pursuits and invest in relationships.  Be willing to learn through every experience and person you encounter.  Be humble.  As my former Nike boss once said, “This ain’t your first BBQ, but it’s also not your 100th.”

– Amy Bi / University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

“Know why you are going to business school so you can spend your (very short) two years in the most efficient and productive way possible. But at the same time don’t neglect the relationships you’ll make during business school, because those are probably the most valuable things you will take with you.”

John Lockwood

John Lockwood

– John Lockwood / Ohio State, Fisher College of Business

“Spend time understanding the culture at Haas. Talk to students, alumni and faculty about what they think makes this place so special. Also, you should know that our defining principles truly reflect who we are, so spend some time thinking about whether they even resonate with you. If they do, ask yourself what stories from your life best demonstrate the principles and begin to weave those into your conversations throughout the application and interview process.”

– Nikita Mitchell / University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Be true to yourself! There are many incredible MBA programs out there, but probably only one that’s the right fit for your unique background, personality, and goals.  Visit Notre Dame, walk by the Dome, sit in a class, chat with current students in the Lounge, and try to figure out whether you can see yourself there.”

Elizabeth Owens

Elizabeth Owens

– Elizabeth Owens / University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“I would say spend as much time reflecting on what really energizes you, and then focus your essays and applications on why that is and how you want to surround yourself with whatever that is in the future. Try to find 2nd or 3rd level insights about what you enjoy doing – do you like entrepreneurship because of the fast pace of work or because of the independence it allows you? Do you like finance because of the large topics or the technical challenges? It took me a long time to draw a connecting thread between all the industries I enjoyed working on because they seemed so different – only after a lot of thinking did I realize that they all addressed global topics, and that’s what I enjoyed working on.”

– Bruno Valle / Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“My best advice is to figure out what you are passionate about and identify the opportunities within the program and the broader campus that will enable you to best pursue that passion.”

– Peter Nurnberg / Stanford Graduate School of Business

Alexander Brown

Alexander Brown

“Align your choice of school with your personal values and developmental gaps. I always encourage applicants to take a step back and be confident in their reasons for pursing an MBA. Each program is unique and offers different experiential opportunities. My suggestion is to first list out all of your program requirements and imperatives, paying close attention to professional development. [Then], list out important personal values. Screen schools based on your requirements and imperatives then do a deep dive into program experience, community and culture. Try to make the best assessment of how well each program aligns with your values. I suggest that applicants be picky. It is their decision where to apply and it is important for both the program and the student to have an experience where they not only succeed, but also grow as a person.

…If an admit feels a connection to the school, then I encourage them to learn more and be open to continued dialogue with the school…Tepper’s program is very academically rigorous and quant focused. It is also a place where experiential learning is highly valued, especially within leadership development. The school is highly connected across the Carnegie Mellon campus, thereby presenting students with many additional learning and leadership opportunities. What truly makes the school unique is that its small class size leads to more class cohesion. Tepper students know almost everyone in their class and the community has a very familial feel. Tepper students work collaboratively and are deeply invested in helping one another succeed.”

Alexander Brown / Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Know why you want an MBA and, even more specifically, why HBS is right for you. Yes, HBS is a great school. But it isn’t for everyone. There may be other, equally fantastic schools that are a better fit for you. For example, if you don’t love the case study method, there are other schools that use a more traditional classroom environment—and that may be better geared towards your individual learning style. Really do your research and figure out why HBS is such a good fit.”

– Ali Huberlie / Harvard Business School


Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Whatever your insecurities are, work to resolve those head on. You have to make a conscious decision to grow…it’s not just going back to school, it’s seizing the opportunity to set goals and take risks.”

– Naomi Johnson / Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Sourya Datta

Sourya Datta

“Don’t afraid to fail, and enjoy the moments at school — it will not come back.”

– Sourya Datta / University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

“Business school is as much about how you perform as to the relationships you make.  So take on leadership positions and stretch your comfort zone, you might surprise yourself with what you’re capable of!”

– Eric Barajas / Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

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