Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Undergraduate School and Major: Undergrad: Wesleyan University (CT) – Sociology; Graduate: Humphrey School of Public Affairs, U of MN – Masters of Public Policy
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: In reverse chronological order: Humphrey School of Public Affairs, U of MN – Policy Researcher; Mary’s Pence – Development Director; Sierra Club of British Columbia – Manager of Individual Giving; FairVote – Membership Outreach Coordinator; Der Kindergarten (Beijing) – Head English Teacher
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Everyone’s different, but here’s what worked for me: I got a good GMAT/GRE prep book and read it carefully, systematically doing lots of practice problems for each problem type. I timed myself for every practice problem and challenged myself to do each problem in the amount of time I’d want to give that type of problem in the actual GMAT. I didn’t let myself look at the answers until I’d worked through the problem, no matter how long it took me. Eventually, I got much faster and re-learned many basic math concepts and tricks that, in some cases, I hadn’t used since high school.
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? Talk to everyone you can! All the most helpful information I got in choosing schools came from networking. In particular, I reached out to people I trusted who had been through the B-school search process recently and gathered their insights on different schools to add to my own. I also networked to identify and have conversations with current students at schools I was interested in. Our conversations would include what other schools they looked at and how they made their decision. It’s amazing how candid people will be when you’re talking face-to-face or on the phone – so I highly recommend setting up lots of one-on-one conversations of this type.
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 early. But don’t freak out if you get behind you ideal timeline (I bet it happens to all of us!). Make sure you have several trusted people read and give you feedback on your essay drafts – this is very important to make sure you are clearly articulating what you want to. And, have a fallback plan if one of your recommenders falls through.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I was looking for a program that would prepare me not just to act like I know what I’m doing, but to genuinely know what I’m doing. I concluded Carlson would be the best place for me to do this. Key reasons include the culture, the network and the curriculum. I was impressed by Carlson’s culture of high achievement together with a strong sense of collaboration and excitement about new ideas. I was also attracted to Carlson’s network. In the Twin Cities, Carlson’s network and reputation are unparalleled and Carlson’s national brand in strong and growing. Finally, I determined Carlson curriculum was the best fit for me, particularly Carlson’s hands-on Enterprise program and strength in preparing students for both traditional MBA career paths and “off-road” careers. I appreciate the diversity of strengths of the Carlson program because it ensures a diversity of students and opportunities while I’m here.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? On an institutional level, I want to help Carlson grow its leadership role in supporting sustainable and socially responsible business endeavors, both locally and globally. On a personal level, I want to build my tool kit for being a strong leader in confronting the global grand challenges that face my generation. In particular, I want to develop a clear vision for how I can leverage business acumen, together with my nonprofit and public policy background, to be a highly effective leader for long-term positive change.