Meet Notre Dame’s MBA Class of 2017

Benjamin Hota

Benjamin Hota

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Hometown: Louisville, KY 

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Louisville, Majored in Finance

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Humana, Inc. – Financial Reporting Associate

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I would strongly recommend, if possible, setting enough time aside to thoroughly study, which I believe is roughly 100 hours or at least two months. Also, plan to take the test twice. Even with the practice tests that are available today, nothing can truly simulate the test-taking experience. Even if you are able to take a practice test in the test-taking facility, there will still be unexpected anxiety when you really go through it for score. I know it can be expensive to take the test more than once, but it’s one of the smartest investments you can make. I raised my score by more than 50 points, which opened up many opportunities that wouldn’t have previously existed.

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?  While there’s something to be said about attending a brand name school, it’s the fit that truly matters. You have to follow your passions.  If you want to pursue a career in brand management directly after graduating, then it doesn’t make sense to go a school that primarily focuses on the financial service industry. Moreover, if there is a certain geographical area of the country in which you’d like to live, seek out the firms in that area and see if they recruit at the potential schools. Lastly, the culture has to fit. You have to know who you are and what you’re about.  Ask yourself questions like these. What type of learning environment do you like? Are smaller class sizes preferable? What kind of on and off campus activities could you see yourself getting involved with? After interviewing at several top programs, I knew as soon as I stepped on campus that Notre Dame was the place for me.

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? Start networking.  ou’ll have to become very good at it once you’re in b-school, so start practicing now. After reviewing the program and deciding to take the next step, reach out to a student or a particular officer from an MBA organization (i.e. NSHMBA, MBA Veterans, MBA Association, Golf Club, etc…).  The best advice you can get is from someone who has just navigated your path. While applying, I was fortunate enough to work with current students who helped me successfully articulate my story and provided true depth regarding the qualities, principles, and other characteristics of the school.  This was invaluable when it came to choosing target schools, writing essays, and interviewing.

As far as recommendations go, find individuals who truly know you. Many times the recommender is asked to tell a personal story regarding your character. This could prove rather difficult to come up with for someone who doesn’t genuinely know you. Titles sound nice, but if the recommendation is generic (and the admissions team can tell) it does no good.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? First, the quality of character I encountered through my emails, telephone conversations, and interview visit amazed me.  I could definitely tell that there was something going on here much greater than any one individual. It’s very easy to pick up on the sense of community at Notre Dame. People here don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk.  The commitment to serving both the local and global community really touched base with me. I also strongly identified with the idea that business can and should be a force for good.

Second, the University of Notre Dame’s commitment to veterans is second to none. Being a six year Marine veteran, I received a warm welcome from each staff member and student with whom I spoke. All of the veteran students I reached out to were easy to talk to, extremely informative, and made me feel at home. They took the time to answer my questions and introduced me to other students along the way. Again, the program’s commitment to community is easily observable.  This sense of community displayed by the veteran network at Notre Dame, compounded by the amazing alumni network for the university as a whole, made the decision to attend here an easy one.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Giving back is something that is very important to me and is something I strive to accomplish wherever I am. First, I would like to increase awareness to veterans that business school is an excellent option. I believe that veterans possess skills that are extremely transferable to business (i.e. leadership, teamwork, and decision making).  Second, I would like to give back to future students. I want to give others the opportunity that I had with respect to finding out what the program is really about.  Lastly, I would like to give back to the local community.  This includes volunteering at a soup kitchen, spending time at a local community center, and organizing events that bring people together.

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