Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Courtney Black

Courtney Black


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business 

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Undergraduate School and Major (Include Graduate School if Relevant): Emory University (Economics & Italian Studies)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Google, Inc. – Account Strategist

Merkle, Inc. – Account Manager

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? There will never be a “perfect” time to begin preparing for the GMAT. For me, I found that the best way to commit to a study plan was to register far in advance. Without confirming a test date, you are free to push back on your studies until you feel there is a better time. Life will continue to add to your busy schedule and give you reasons to study tomorrow, next week, or next month. You’re better off making GMAT study a part of your regular schedule and build around that. The first step is to commit to the GMAT with enough time to complete a GMAT prep course.

Next, make sure you study the strategy of taking the GMAT. Certainly make sure you have an understanding of the concepts tested on the exam. However, it is also extremely important to understand the tricks and strategies that help make the exam easier. This will help with time management of the exam as well as helping you answer tough questions.

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? Outline what you value most from an MBA program. Be thorough and cover everything from location, rankings, job placement, culture, etc. Include every single aspect that is important to you all the way down to your most personal preferences. Perhaps it is important to have a crossfit gym nearby or perhaps you are a foodie and prefer a city with a variety of culinary experiences. It is also helpful to determine which aspects are most important to you and weight those appropriately.  As you are researching programs, determine which schools have the best combination of traits that you value most.

Determine if the school feels right for you by visiting the campus and speaking with different members of the community. As you research programs, speak with current students, recent graduates, and alumni who are 10+ years removed from their program. See what they have to say about how the program has helped them in the various stages of their career.

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?  Make sure you can articulate why you want an MBA and why you want to attend the program to which you are applying. Be able to provide examples of what you would like to do after graduation and what your long-term goals are. Although many people change career plans during their program, it is important to show that you’ll have a focused approach when it comes time for recruiting and that you’ll understand how to get the most out of your experience.

Also, have multiple people give feedback on your essays and interviews. Your peers will be able to see mistakes in your essay that may have gone unnoticed as well make critiques that improve it. Be sure to get feedback from peers with different backgrounds and people whom you trust to give honest constructive feedback in order to get different perspectives to improve your essay.

For interviews, have answers ready for questions that are typically asked in admissions interviews. This also includes ‘why do you want an MBA’ and ‘why you are applying to a particular school.’ Also prepare examples from your professional or personal experiences that show your leadership skills. Complete multiple mock interviews to prepare yourself to explain your desires for a particular program and articulate your work experiences.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Ross was the perfect fit for me and what I wanted out of an MBA program. I wanted hands-on learning and Ross’s action-based curriculum would ensure that I’m not just sitting in a class listening to lectures, but actually practicing the skills that I will need in the business world. The Multidisciplinary Action Project that all students must do is a great example of this. The variety of locations, functions, and companies that Ross sends its students ensures that I’m not limited in my options of future employers. Perhaps most importantly, the people at Ross were a major factor in my decision to attend. Every Ross student has a level of enthusiasm for the school and community that I did not see at other programs. I saw this in current students, recent graduates, and older alums. I felt the essence of a tight knit community where long lasting friendships could be formed. Second year students and alum were quick to reach out to offer their advice for the program and offer their help in any way. There is a “pay it forward” mentality where everyone is open to lending a hand because someone did it for him or her.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I would like to make sure that I am active in different organizations on campus including holding leadership positions in various clubs. I’d like to participate and win multiple case competitions to get experience in solving different business problems for various companies. I’m also planning on taking a wide variety of elective courses for a well-rounded skillset.

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