Meet Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper Class of 2017

Lillian Ngobi

Lilian Ngobi 

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, BSE Chemical Engineering; University of Pittsburgh, MSE Chemical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

General Mills – Operations Team Leader and Quality Engineer; BASF – Process Engineer, Reliability Engineer, Operations Engineer

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Start preparing early and take the standardized test of your choice before beginning your applications. I definitely recommend taking a standardized course to familiarize yourself with the test format and question types. I would then recommend getting a tutor to hone in on any problem areas and to develop test-taking strategies specific to your style of learning and your test-taking style. Also please, please, please remember that business school admissions do not rely solely on standardized test scores, so do not place yourself under unnecessary levels of stress.

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?  At the beginning of this process, you are probably thinking that it is you who has to prove yourself to schools (well this is half true), BUT this process is just as much a time for schools to make themselves attractive to you. Before embarking on this process, really take the time to think about why you want to go to business school and what you want to accomplish in the short and long-term. Next, think about your ideal career or industry and learn what is needed to be successful in that field. Most importantly, think about what makes you happy in a learning environment and think about what is important to you and how your values align with certain programs. With these things in mind, you can draw up a list of schools. Talk to current students, alumni, faculty, and staff and definitely visit the schools, attend their webinars, or meet them on the road!

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? I know this sounds cliché, but start everything as early as possible! Before applying to schools, have a clear understanding in your head about why an MBA is right for you and why now is the time for you to pursue an MBA. Have a good sense about what you want to do in the short and long-term and have the ability to articulate what you need from an MBA program and your background to achieve those goals. Also, if you have done the deep introspection needed to make such a life-changing decision to go to business school, you should have an idea about how you aim to impact the school you choose and how you intend to participate in that school’s student community. 

For recommenders, again, begin the process before you even start your applications. Once you have decided to apply to school, identify six or seven people who would be appropriate recommenders. This provides you with a cushion in case your top choices cannot write your letters for any reason. If possible, plan on asking recommenders to write your letters over coffee or in a brief meeting (a nicely written e-mail suffices for those chosen people who are far away). When you ask them, make sure you articulate why you want to go to business school and what your interests are and then talk to them about how you chose your list of schools. Also, talk to your recommenders about why you think you would be an ideal candidate at your target schools. This information can also be submitted to your recommenders in an electronic format. Throughout the application process, check in with your recommenders periodically (every 2 weeks) to ask about their progress and to see if they need any more information from you.

For interviews, really spend time getting to know as many people associated with the schools you are applying to as possible. You can do this in various ways. If you have any difficulty, most MBA programs have contact information for student ambassadors or admissions team members who are happy to connect you to people. When you speak to people connected with the different programs, ask them questions about their goals, aspirations, and perspectives on the institution. Make sure that you have done extensive research on the schools and all that they offer.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I love Tepper! I ultimately chose the Tepper School because of the amazing sense of community fostered by the students, faculty and staff. Everyone at the Tepper school is wholeheartedly invested in the success of all students.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I would like to train and run another half marathon with some of my Tepper classmates. I would like to learn and appreciate perspectives and experiences that are different from my own and adopt those in my future career path. Finally, I would like to make sure I did all that I could to ensure that I can be close with the majority of my classmates for many years to come.

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