Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Erin Yasukawa

Erin Yasukawa


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business 

Hometown: San Jose, California

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California – San Diego, Chemical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: After college, I joined Teach for America, a non-profit organization that trains education and non-education majors to work as teachers in urban classrooms in order to close the opportunity gap that exists for students. I taught various levels of high school Chemistry at Passaic High School in New Jersey for three years. Along the way, I realized that I wanted to expand my impact by training and coaching new teachers so I joined the non-profit organization as a full-time manager.

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? First of all, breathe. The test is not impossible and it really takes practice to understand and master the question format. Secondly, be consistent in keeping to a regular study schedule. It doesn’t help to forget what you’ve studied along the way but creating a routine will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the test experience. Finally, if you have limited amounts of time, focus on studying for your out of 800 score. The other parts of your test will not matter as much and/or will take less time to master.

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? Talk to alumni and current students as much as you can!  Ask students about why they love their school, how they made their decision, and what they want to do in the future. You’ll get a full picture of the personalities from each school and where you’d fit in the best.

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? Ask and look for a lot of feedback. Have your close friends, relatives, coworkers, and others look at your essays, practice interviews, etc. This will give you lots of areas to improve and make you feel more confident when you submit your application or have an interview! If possible, be open with your manager about your decision to apply. Most often he/she will be supportive and offer to write a letter of recommendation.  This will also allow you to leave your company on good terms and keep an open line for future opportunities.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? There were a number of things about Ross that really stood out to me but I’ll talk about a few of them.  First was the MAP program and the chance to work on real-life projects with a team was exactly what I was looking for. It was the full immersion experience that I wanted to dive into and learning through hands-on work is when I’m at my best. The second factor was the Alumni Network and quality of people. One of the reasons that Ross has such a strong reputation is because everyone who was a student loved their own experience and actively works to stay connected and give back to the future class.  Through the application and interview experience, I consistently heard about how close-knit the class was and how willingly everyone is to help each other out, an environment that sounded a lot like my non-profit roots. In addition, Ross has partnerships with some really fantastic organizations that I was interested in, more specifically the Consortium and the Forte Foundation. I was looking for a way to keep my passion for working toward educational equity and thus knew I wanted to join both while attending business school.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? (Whew, big question!)

In the broader sense, I want to gain perspective. I don’t expect to come out of business school as master at managing people (I honestly think that I’ll be striving toward that for the rest of my life), but I do want to better understand the complexities of the working world and have the tools that will allow me to navigate and problem solve through those challenges. Business school will allow me to be thrown into a multitude of new experiences and challenges, where I will be able to stretch my understanding of how to approach a problem and better understand how to partner with others in order to accomplish our task.


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