Meet The Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2017

Olga Abrasimova

Olga I. Abrosimova

Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Eschweiler, Germany

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Science in International Business at Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Senior Producer, Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc. and Founder at OA Project

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? My GMAT experience was probably a little bit different than everybody else’s. I started my graduate school pursuit thinking that I would go to law school. During the process of studying for the LSAT, I realized that I was a better fit for business school, so I seamlessly transitioned into studying for the GMAT. I realized that the reading comprehension and critical reasoning sections on the LSAT were much harder, so my advice is to use some of the LSAT materials when studying for the GMAT. It will make the experience with the real thing so much more comfortable.

Another bit of advice is to start early. Participate in Forté MBALaunch or MLT. Both programs offer a substantial GMAT preparation component. Also prepare smart — contact people who have done this before. There are tricks and valuable tips that you can use.

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? Take a step back and think about what you want your brand to be 10 to 20 years from now. You cannot divorce your business school — it will stay with you forever and it will remain part of your brand for the rest of your life. Fit is much more important than rankings, especially if you are clear as to what your ultimate goal is and how your MBA will help you to achieve that goal. Visit every school — that process will teach you a lot about yourself and simultaneously provide you ample material for your essays. Talk to students and find out about their motivations for choosing this particular school — ask them about their experiences and evaluate if this atmosphere and these people will be conducive for your own success.

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? Connect with a current student and an alumni member (if possible) and ask them specific questions about their experience at the school. Try to keep in touch with them during the application process, as these people can become powerful advocates on your behalf. Explain to your recommenders in detail why you are going to business school and what you need them to highlight about you in their letters. Be as specific as possible and always keep in mind the submission deadlines — the recommenders tend to take a long time to complete their recommendations. In essays, go for honesty and authenticity — own your story. Do not repeat the same stories that you will use during your interview or that will be used by your recommenders — each part of the application should add something new about your personality and not repeat the same narrative.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Cornell has a very special place in my heart. When I first started researching graduate degrees, I was leaning towards law school until one of Johnson’s professors took the time to speak with me and explain why an MBA would be a much better fit for me. Not only did she save me from a catastrophic career choice, but she also introduced me to the Johnson family and encouraged me to apply. I also received valuable advice from the admissions office to apply to Johnson through the Consortium for Graduate Study, which has already made my business school experience so much richer.

I really enjoy being around Johnson’s small, tight-knit community and I know that my time here will be filled with challenging but equally rewarding experiences — new friends and opportunities for me to leave my mark. I know that I will be able to create my unique Johnson journey.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? My goals for my time at Johnson are to start the Bitcoin club, to win the Consortium trophy, to organize a trek to Saint Petersburg international economic forum, find great friends, and to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am very excited about this journey, and I am very eager to start.

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