University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Double Major in History & PWAD (Peace, War & Defense)
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME) – Floater, Motion Picture Assistant, Motion Picture Assistant to Senior Partner; Stump & Company – Analyst
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Buy that giant blue Official GMAT Guide Princeton Review book. Embrace the idea of studying at least 50-60 hours for this thing. There’s no other way. Go through the initial prompts, familiarize yourself with the GMAT test, sections, and process, then do the first practice test all the way through to gauge your competencies. After this, you should have a handle on the level of problems – both verbal and quant – that you are getting right almost every time, the levels you’re getting right most of the time, and the levels you keep missing consistently. Stop spending time on the easier questions you are acing and focus on how you can get the harder questions right a higher percentage of the time. I stopped doing ALL verbal work except for the most difficult-rated after two practice tests and discarded the easiest section of quant, focusing on medium-high and up quantitative work. From here I kept improving my skills, so I was hitting all the sections at a high level, only struggling with the medium-high and up quantitative questions. The structure of the GMAT penalizes you for missing lots of questions consecutively, so if you can consistently get the medium-high ranked questions correct, you have a great chance of keeping your aggregate score on test day at a high percentile.
Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? I would suggest to first identify the tier of schools you are applying. If you have a 750 GMAT and killer work experience, it’s probably a waste of time to look at schools below 20th in aggregate rankings. Once you’ve located your range, I would first stress culture. I was floored when I visited UNC and realized it was the right fit for me almost immediately once I had completed my other campus visits. Of course, geography and desired placement location should be considered as well. Ultimately, it’s a holistic process and really comes down to gut feel.
What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Cast a wide net! Talk to as many people as you can who have affiliations with or advice about MBA programs. Hint: There will be many people! But they will lead you in the right direction. With informational interviews, you’ll have such a better idea of what you want to write about in your essays and how to frame your story. Do campus visits BEFORE your admissions interviews, so you have a better handle on the school and can speak eloquently on why you want to go to school there. Getting recommendations is always the hardest part – I hate asking people to go out of their way. However, I found that almost anyone you have a good working relationship will be more than happy to help. When getting the OK from various bosses, be sure to provide all the information up front: Submission deadline, content, why you want to go to the school, etc. Stress how important these are to your chances. Finally, of course, follow up! Don’t be obnoxious, but be sure to let them know the deadline, and follow up one week, two days and – heaven forbid – same day of the deadline. (I had to do this, unfortunately!)
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I visited several comparable business schools that were similarly ranked and in exciting geographic locations. But at the end of the day, UNC Kenan-Flagler just felt right. I went to UNC for undergrad, but was immersed in the liberal arts and only ever took one course at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Visiting as a prospective MBA, I was blown away by the verve of the place. My top draw was undoubtedly the collaborative culture; as a visitor I was blown away by my touring MBA Ambassador, the admissions office, staff, and all the first- and second-years I met and talked to while on campus. It became so clear to me that everyone at UNC Kenan-Flagler clearly valued the place and the institution’s well-being, not to mention its importance in their lives. Being on campus and witnessing this level of commitment to excellence made we want to be a part of it.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? My main goal is to achieve the “transformation” that is stressed during orientation week. I want to grow into a better leader, student, professional and, ultimately, a better person. At present, I think I can achieve this by working hard in classes with my study group, taking advantage of the Career Management Center, and really just giving back to the UNC Kenan-Flagler community wherever I can by having an open mind and taking advantage of all the exciting opportunities offered.