Columbia Business School
Hometown: Newton, MA
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Wisconsin – Madison
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Major League Baseball; Job titles: Intern/Assistant to the VP/Coordinator/Account Executive, all within the International department (Working on growth of the MLB brand outside of the U.S.).
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Know your strengths. While you theoretically have as much time as you want to prepare, it’s nonetheless important to manage your time wisely and focus on the areas where you have the greatest room for improvement.
GMAT tutor vs. class vs. self-guided prep— Again, this was about knowing my strengths. For me, the biggest advantage of taking a GMAT class was having the built-in structure and roadmap for preparation. While I didn’t doubt I could learn the material on my own with a book, the class forced me to stay on track in my prep and not kick the can down the road, and I was able to complete the process in the amount of time I had targeted. On the other hand, if you are disciplined enough to draw out a schedule and stick to it, independent prep may be just fine (and save you some money). Everyone learns differently, so it’s important to know yourself and what will work best for you.
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? Use rank as a starting place, but not the only criteria (which is certainly easier said than done). Look at the job reports to see what industries and companies graduates at various schools are heading to. If you know what industry you are looking to get into, look for schools with strengths there, be it professors, alumni or location. Being at a school with strengths in your desired field is going to be more valuable than a couple of spots on the rankings, which very well could change anyways by the time you finish school.
Talk to current and recently graduated students to get a sense of their experience, and what the student body is like. Visiting the school was the best tool for me in really trying to get a strong feel for the culture and student body and determining fit.
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? This has been said a thousand times, but for me, really getting to know the school both before and during the application process was invaluable. Not only did it make writing essays and interviewing easier, but it also shows the school your interest. While some schools say they don’t take into account “demonstrated interest,” the sense I got is that if you haven’t visited the school – or at least gone to local events and had multiple interactions with the school – your chances of admission may take a hit. I don’t have evidence to back this up, but anecdotally that is the feeling I got.
As stated above, talking to students and visiting the school was the best way for me to get a sense of the school and helped arm me with the information I needed during the application process. In addition, try and really dig a bit deeper beyond the standard questions such as favorite classes, clubs, etc. in order to try and ascertain what it is that makes that school unique.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Getting in certainly helped! But on a more serious note, I think it again comes back to fit. The admitted students’ weekends I attended gave me a great glimpse of what the next two years could look like. Another factor that ended up playing a bigger role in my decision than I initially thought was location. I was deciding between CBS and a school outside the northeast, and realized that if I wanted to stay in the northeast long term, which I do, being in New York and being able to easily get in front of companies year round and learn from their business leaders was a major plus.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? My main goal for these two years is to get exposed to and learn about as many different industries and job functions as possible. While down the road, I plan on returning to the sports industry, I’m looking to get some different experience post-MBA, in order to be able to bring best practices from other industries over to sports, which is a relatively insulated industry. Exposing myself to a variety of companies and industries through internships (summer and during semester) as well as informational interviews and meetings, will allow me to continue to solidify my path going forwards post-school. Going back to the question above, being in a large city like New York will afford me a huge number of opportunities to seek out this exposure.