Meet The Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2017

Andrew Vittetoe

Andrew Vittetoe

Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

Hometown: Clearwater, FL

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Florida — Industrial & Systems Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Accenture Strategy — Senior Strategy Analyst, Strategy Analyst

Herren Associates — Program and Cost Analyst

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? A common misconception is that the exam is testing how much you know, when in reality it’s testing your problem-solving and analytical skills. Since it’s not a knowledge-based exam, cramming is not effective. When preparing for your first time taking the exam, spend about 40 percent of your study time learning material and about 60 percent of your time practicing. For any subsequent exams, spend about 20 percent on learning or refreshing on material and 80 percent practicing.

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? First, don’t let the rankings dominate your thinking in the selection process. They are essentially a single number that is used to summarize a wealth of information about each school. Just like in researching for a fantasy football draft, you have to dig deeper to really understand the differences between schools and what is important to you.

Second, keep your list to five or six schools at most. For the top 20 MBA programs, the average admittance rate is about 20 percent, with some a little higher and some a little lower. That means that if you are a reasonably competitive candidate for the top 20 MBA programs, applying to five or six schools will virtually guarantee that you’ll get admitted somewhere.

Finally, if you are seriously interested in applying to a school, you absolutely need to talk with alumni or current students. School websites and blogs only provide so much information about what a school is really like. You need to get an insider’s perspective before you add a school to your target list.

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?

Essay Writing:

  • For your first draft, focus on writing a complete essay instead of stressing on getting the perfect paragraph or introduction. It’s much easier to strategize and make incisive revisions when looking at an entire essay than when you just work on a paragraph or two.
  • Fight the urge to review tons of sample essays. Reviewing too many sample essays can cause you to lose your own voice and limit the uniqueness of your essay.
  • Select several different reviewers with different backgrounds. Each reviewer will bring a different perception.

Admissions Interviews:

  • While preparing for your interview is important, do not over-prepare. Maintain your individuality and try to be yourself.
  • Traveling for on-campus interviews can be stressful. Plan your travel to be as easy and relaxing as possible. You don’t want to bring the stress from traveling into the interview.

Recommendation Letters:

  • Don’t spring asking for a recommendation letter on people. Before asking for a recommendation letter, lay some groundwork with your recommender. Initiate a couple conversations with them to discuss career plans. It’s then very natural to later ask them be one of your recommenders. It’ll also give them more information to write a better letter.
  • Create a packet for recommenders with your career plans, résumé, and a list of relevant accomplishments that highlights the ones where they have first-hand knowledge.
  • Give recommenders significant lead time (i.e., four to six weeks) to prepare your letter and don’t be afraid to manage them with reminders.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Ultimately, I chose Johnson because I “clicked” well with both the current students and the other newly admitted students. All the employers I am interested in recruit at Johnson, and I knew the immersion-based curriculum would prepare me for the career I wanted.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? To me, earning an MBA is not about learning tons of business knowledge from courses. It’s about learning a repeatable process of personal growth and self-improvement. By graduation, I hope to have a process and mindset that will enable me to be constantly relevant and to add value both inside and outside of the workplace.

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