Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate School and Major: Occidental College, Economics for Business Management
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
– Loop Capital Markets, Vice President, Investment Banking Division – Public Finance
– Loop Capital Markets, Associate, Investment Banking Division – Public Finance
– State of California, Office of the Governor and California State University, Sacramento, Executive Fellow, Health and Human Services Agency
– Citigroup, Analyst, Municipal Securities Division
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Know (and be very honest about) what approach works best for you and develop a study plan accordingly. For me, structure and accountability is critical, so I signed up for a weekly, in-person class and then built time into my schedule to study two or three days a week. I also recommend taking a practice test early to identify the subjects that are more challenging for you. In the early days of studying, spend more time on these areas. That said, make sure you spend sufficient time reviewing problems in your stronger subjects, as high scores in one area can help compensate for weaker scores in another.
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 think target schools should be about fit, so knowing yourself, including how you learn, what you want to accomplish in school, and (ideally) what you want to do after is helpful. Do you prefer a small school or big, urban area or more rural? With all the information and resources available online, even if you can’t visit a school, you can get a sense of the environment, culture, etc. If you know you want to pursue a specific career or industry, narrow your search by looking at which companies recruit at the school and where students at the school intern and/or work after graduation. Finally, make an effort to talk to admissions officers, current students and/or alumni. Ask them questions about their experience, and also see if they are people you would want to have in your network going forward.
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? First, filing out the applications and writing essays takes more time than you think. I recommend starting early and working on them consistently so you’re not scrambling the night before the deadline. One of the worst feelings is submitting something that you know is not your best work because you ran out of time. For letters of recommendation, ask early, and check in with your recommenders consistently (but respectfully), especially as the deadline approaches.
With regard to writing essays and doing admission interviews, while it is important to know what each school values – and target your responses accordingly – I think it is just as important that your responses truly reflect you. Speaking from a place of “authenticity” is easier and it also reads as more genuine. Additionally, when writing your essays, make sure that you answer the question asked. With multiple essays within each application, I found my first attempts sometimes missed the nuisances of questions. While perhaps compelling, they weren’t actually relevant. Finally, pay attention to word limits while writing. Although it is relatively easy to trim around the edges, trying to cut an essay in half is painful and not a good use of time.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I chose the Tepper School of Business for its people, analytical approach, small class size and urban setting. As I stated, I think the schools you target, and especially the school you decide to attend, should be based on fit. For me, Tepper best combined objective factors like size, location and approach with less tangible things, like how connected and comfortable I felt when interacting with current students, alumni and professors.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?
Before graduation, I would like to achieve three things. First, I want to identify and pursue a career that combines my interest in strategy with my desire to contribute to the public good. Second, I would like to build a foundation of skills that will enable me to be successful in my chosen career. Finally, I want to build a solid network that I can both help and request help from for years to come.