Hunter H. Rudd
Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
Hometown: Pinehurst, NC
Undergraduate School and Major: East Carolina University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Start early, but not too early. I can only speak towards the GMAT. Based on my own experience, the skills represented therein decay rapidly after review. Because of the breadth and variety of subjects covered, if you start studying too far out you will inevitably begin to forget some pertinent information come test day. Therefore, I suggest that individuals preparing for their GMAT block off the preceding month or two for dedicated study and accept a temporary shutdown of your social life. Tell your friends and your co-workers to not expect much other than the minimum necessary to maintain relationships. As for preparation materials, there are a myriad of resources out there comparing the merits of different prep materials and programs. I suggest you use them when planning out your own methodology.
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? Forget the rankings. They only muddy the proverbial waters and make a simple choice far too complicated. Instead, focus on school culture and values. The more you travel between schools, the more you come to realize that each has a unique character in terms of student body, academic life, social scene, and surrounding area. The reality is that if you spend your time behind a computer making your way between the many rankings in search of insight into which school you would fit into, the less you will be able to understand about what makes a successful MBA candidate and classmate at these schools. Focus on the culture and ultimately go to the school that speaks to you on a much deeper level than the rest. When you find that school it should be blatantly obvious.
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? If you are obsessed with your GMAT score but haven’t started cultivating relationships with current students and potential recommenders, then you’re missing the point. My advice would be to re-assess your understanding of what an MBA program is for.
From start to finish, I’ve noticed that the process is meant to be transformative. The GMAT is only a small part. The admissions process is an ongoing dialog that leaves everyone better off. In applying to school, you should focus on finding the program that speaks to you so that you can carry on that conversation through your essays. If the school doesn’t speak to you, you won’t be able to say anything meaningful back. The same applies to your recommenders: Tell them not only about why you’re applying to an MBA program, but also speak to why these programs are the right fit for you. After all, if your recommenders don’t know about why you selected these programs, then they won’t be able to participate in the de facto conversation you are trying to have with the admissions committee. Lastly, since you don’t get to have a real-time conversation with the whole committee, make sure you know why you believe you are the right fit for the program before you step into the interview room. From my perspective, admissions interviews are a test of fit. If you don’t have meaningful input in the form of questions about the school – or anecdotes about how the school’s program has inspired you to apply – you will be found lacking.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? For all of the reasons I’ve outlined here, I found Fuqua to be the right fit for my family and I. When I visited the school and spoke with students and administrators, I realized that these are the kinds of individuals I want on my team as I pursue my MBA and look to start the next chapter of my career. They spoke my language, shared my values, and were as interested in me – as a person and professional – as I was in them.
Duke and specifically Fuqua’s physical aesthetic really appealed to me as well. Not only were the facilities and students as amazing as one would expect, the town of Durham has so much to offer the aspiring MBA candidate. For foodies, there’s an incredible selection of restaurants that seems to grow daily; beer snobs can get their fill at the exploding selection of craft and microbreweries; hikers have the Appalachian Mountains and numerous parks; beach bums have some of the best east coast’s best destinations less than a few hours drive away. But, in the end it isn’t about the stats, features or rankings, it’s about what this school and my classmates mean to me. For the investment in time, money, and sleepless nights studying and socializing with my classmates, Fuqua had the best return for me.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? As with all Fuqua students, my ultimate goal is to be that leader of consequence for my class and my school. No MBA candidate’s experience is an island unto itself. Every school therefore depends on its student body to have a lasting impact by improving and moving the school forward for the next crop of brilliant, aspiring students. I intend to help improve my school by being an exemplar of Team Fuqua’s guiding principles: authentic engagement, supportive ambition, collective diversity, impactful stewardship, loyal community, and uncompromising integrity. After all, we each have the background experience, intelligence and character necessary to lead our Team Fuqua to be even better for future cohorts.
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