Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
Hometown: Saratoga, CA
Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University, BA Psychology
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
Training Specialist, SchoolCity Inc.
Training and Documentation Manager, SchoolCity Inc.
Product Manager, SchoolCity Inc.
Product Manager, Fundamentum
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Take a sample test as soon as possible. This will help you to set your expectations about which schools might be open to you and determine how much studying you need to do (and in which areas). I know people who have decided that business school wasn’t for them simply because they could never bring themselves to start studying for the GMAT. If you are serious about a full-time program, setting aside an afternoon to take a practice GMAT is an easy first step.
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? Figure out your post b-school goals and your lifestyle non-negotiables. To determine if a school is a match for your goals, look at the published numbers regarding job placements after graduation to see if your preferred schools place a significant percentage of their class in your desired location and industry. Have coffee with people in your target industry (preferably people who make hiring decisions) to find out if they have schools that they prefer to recruit from or a rank from below which they do not recruit.
To determine your non-negotiables, write up a list of must-haves or things you can’t live without. I am married and my husband will be working full-time while I am in school, so we drew up a list of cities where he could find work in his industry and then created a list of target schools in and around those cities. For you, non-negotiables may include being near an airport, being able to afford to live on your own, or being in a city where you can both attend school and do your summer internships without having to move.
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, write down a list of your five greatest strengths and then write one or two STARK stories about a time that you demonstrated each. This will get you through 50-60% of your essays. Also, when you ask for recommendation letters, you can tell your recommenders that you are trying to show the school that you have [strength 1, strength 2] and you can suggest situations (from your list of stories) when you demonstrated those strengths while working with the recommender. Second, figure out your compelling story for how each business school’s particular strengths, combined with your strengths, will address your current weaknesses and ultimately help you become a master of the universe (i.e., an alumnus whom they can put proudly on a brochure). Remember, it’s like a job interview – schools want to hear how you will bring value to their organization, not just how you will grow if they give you the chance.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? From an emotional standpoint, I chose Tepper because they made me feel welcome like no other school that I visited. From the first moment I talked to an admissions officer at a Forté event, I have felt like a person rather than a number. After being admitted, I stopped by the admissions office to drop off my transcripts. It turned out it was closed (I had showed up on graduation day) but when I ran into a member of the admissions team in the hallway he not only took my transcripts to hand-deliver to the right mailbox, he also took the time to talk to me about how the housing hunt was going and about my plans for the summer.
Logically, I chose Tepper because they have one of the best career service centers in the country. After working at a startup dedicated to teaching job seekers the skills necessary to navigate the job market, it was very important to me to choose a school that was going to improve my post-graduation career outcomes not through reputation alone but rather through a deliberate program of career and job-search preparation.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Before I graduate, I want to improve my ability to be a leader and a manager of people and I want to work on an interdisciplinary team with the geniuses at Carnegie Mellon to create a new product.