Meet Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2017

Brian Cook

Brian Cook

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

Hometown: Washington, DC

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University, A.B. Humanities and Social Science, 2010

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

2010 Corps Member, Teach For America (TFA)

Director of Operations, Financial Compliance, TFA

Regional Manager, then National Director, Recruitment, TFA

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I imagine there are people out there who take the GMAT once and called it a day. I’m a part of the group that had to work at it!

Effective preparation came down to finding a balance between time management and active learning. Some people need a class to help with putting in the time. While working serious hours and traveling quite a bit for work, I really pushed myself to study in the early mornings, late nights, and weekends. While being disciplined with my time, I wasn’t seeing tremendous improvement. Investing in a personal tutor helped me to really hone in on why I was struggling or succeeding in particular areas.

Keep at it – but only if you know why you’ll do better next time!

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? Early in the process, a mentor provided a useful, if slightly simplified, way of approaching the process: Find the job you want and explain how an MBA is the best bridge to that destination. After all, your essays rest on the idea that you have a realistic idea of what an MBA will help you do. This got me started. I wanted a general management education that would help me to think in a very structured and sophisticated way about cross functional challenges that general managers face. This might prepare me to consult or enter a strong global firm on a general management track.

I wanted to go deeper to think about what personal and professional transformation I was hoping to undergo to confirm this was the best path forward. I’d recommend developing meaningful criteria to help you identify a theme that might unify your school list and help you analyze what might be the best fit for you. I found that community had been a theme that linked my personal life and values with the professional work I was doing through TFA and my aspirations for leading people focused organizations in the future. Honing in on this theme helped me to find key differentiators between schools that made the conversation more substantive. There are also other important criteria you might find useful depending on the theme(s) you choose (partner/spouse culture, location, etc.)

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? There are things you can control and things you can’t. My first semester as a pre-med student ten years ago can’t be changed. The application (essays, interviews and recommendations) is an opportunity to tell a broader narrative. Part of determining which year was best to apply had to do with the vision I had for the narrative I wanted to tell. I’m not joking here: I wanted to show “off the charts” vision, results and leadership in my work experience, and (for a poet) “unquestionably proficient” quantitative acumen through my test scores and additional course work. I waited a year to apply to make sure I created the best application I could with the things I could control.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? My wife and I were immediately welcomed into this community. Not only were alumni eager to chat on the phone with me, they wanted to connect their partners with my wife to learn about the partner experience. By the time I visited Tuck, I observed how genuine passion for this environment and for what can be achieved by people who choose this environment. With such smart, accomplished classmates, I am most inspired by the collective value placed on inclusivity as a means to being greater than the sum of our parts.

On a very practical level, I anticipate surpassing my own expectations for immediate career objectives and more importantly build relationships with all 280 of my classmates, which will shape career transitions for years to come.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?

  • I want to expand my perspective by taking on as many global consulting opportunities and immersion experiences as possible.
  • I want to get as many reps as possible building out new business ventures with classmates.
  • I would like to be considered a ‘legit’ hockey player in the Men’s Tripod League next year (one week down, long way to go!).

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