Meet Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2017

John Gwillim

John Gwillim

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Hometown: Traverse City, MI

Undergraduate School and Major: Michigan State University; BA in Finance and Public Policy

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • Impact Carbon – Kampala Uganda
    • Global Program Director
    • Uganda Country Director
  • Kiva Microfunds – Barranquilla, Colombia and Santiago, Chile
    • Fellow
  • com – East Lansing, MI
    • Chief Operating Officer
  • Eze Software Group – Boston, MA
    • Connectivity Consultant
  • John Gwillim Photography – East Lansing, MI
    • Owner

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? The first part of the process for me was accepting how much time it was going to take; as an older applicant I hadn’t taken a test in years and it was quite an adjustment to step away from my normal life and block out the time I needed to study.I saw the biggest improvements in my test scores when I started studying in large blocks of time (3-4 hours), as it helped me build up the stamina I needed to do well on the tests.

My biggest piece of advice: Take the FULL practice test every time and review it immediately afterwards. It is a 4-5 hour commitment, but gives you a much more accurate picture of where you stand for the real test; just doing the verbal/quant sections doesn’t give you a comprehensive picture.

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? Get past the rankings; things like school size, location, and fit are more important. There is a big difference between a small school in a rural area and a large school in Boston or New York. Doing a few campus visits to different size programs was useful for me. I also found the employment reports schools post to be useful not only to see the industries but also the cities and regions of the country students ended up in after graduation. Finally, every school has a unique culture that is going to have a large impact on how happy you are in your program. I was immediately drawn to the collaborative, friendly feel of the Tuck community during my campus visit and it ended up being one of the main factors in my decision to attend.

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?

Be yourself. There are many people who try to develop a strategy of what they think the admissions committee wants to see, but I think it is best to highlight the stories and accomplishments that are most important to you. I think this holds true during the essay writing process, but even more so during the interview. Fit is important to each school and they want to know how well you will fit in with the culture of the school.

Give your essay writers as much time as possible. I think the first thing you should do with each application is put in your reviewer’s contact information so they receive the email as soon as possible. I also sent out friendly reminders as the deadline approached and ensured my reviews were in a week before the applications were due. That way, I could focus on refining the rest of my application without concern over whether they were complete in the back of my mind. My writers knew the request was coming months in advance so there were no surprises or last minute requests, which I think was appreciated.

Starting as early as possible is also key. Every part of the application takes a lot of time and there are many short essays and small responses throughout the process. I copied all of these out of the online application form and created a word document, both for time management and ease of editing.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? The people. Tuck is an extremely tight knit, small community full of nice, intelligent people. The isolation of the school away from a major city center scares a lot of people, but I see it as an advantage. I will get to know my classmates better than at any other school. In my first month I’ve taken classmates rock climbing, done multiple hikes in the Green and White Mountains, and went canoeing on the Connecticut river—all things that have allowed me to start building lasting relationships with my classmates that just wouldn’t be feasible in a big city.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Build lasting relationships with my classmates. The network that I develop during school is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, both personally and professionally. Tuck has a fiercely loyal alumni network and being an integrated member in the community with serve me long beyond my first job out of school.

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