Elizabeth (Liz) White
IE Business School
Hometown: Lexington, NC
Undergraduate School and Major: Wake Forest University – Political Science
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Campaign Manager for Hugh Holliman’s Campaign for North Carolina State House, Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador, and (most recently), Acting Deputy Director for the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center (a global think tank in Washington, DC)
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? This may sound counterintuitive but don’t study too much. Give yourself 6-8 weeks of study time before taking the test. If you study too much or take too many practice tests before the real deal, you will burn yourself out. Plan ahead. If you wait until the last minute, you won’t have time to take it again if you aren’t satisfied with your score and you will be extremely stressed out if you are studying while also completing applications. Invest in taking a course if you aren’t very self-disciplined. It will be worth it when you get a higher score instead of having to take the test over again. Take which ever test (GMAT or GRE) you feel most comfortable with. I opted for the GMAT because I wanted to demonstrate that I had strong math skills despite only taking calculus in college. In hindsight, that wasn’t such a good idea. I ended up scoring much higher on the verbal portion and probably would have done better to take the GRE which isn’t as heavy on the math.
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 students and alumni at different schools to get a perspective and an idea of what your classmates might be like. Take average GMAT/GRE scores into consideration, but don’t let that be a limiting factor. If you are strong in other areas, your test score won’t matter as much. Also, think about where you want to be in 5-10 years. Will attending this school give you the network and skills to get you there?
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 honest, emphasize your differences, and don’t hold back. I was worried that I wouldn’t get accepted to business school because I don’t have a formal business background, but I think my various non-profit and government experiences are what made me so appealing to admissions officials. There were times in my application when I was hesitant to share my personal experiences in my essays because I thought admissions would think I was too goofy or weird, or that I was tooting my own horn. In actuality, that is what b-school applications are for. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself because you have to stand out from other applicants in order to make the cut. Don’t get too worked up about your interviews. Keep calm and relaxed (although I know that’s hard to do when your future is on the line!), but being able to clearly and eloquently express your thoughts in conversation is extremely important. Make sure you trust your references. Don’t ask someone to write you a recommendation if they’re bad at remembering or meeting deadlines or you’re not exactly sure what they will say about you. Also, make sure you tell your references (politely) which attributes you want them to highlight in their recommendation that will give you the greatest advantage in your b-school application. They may write a glowing recommendation for you, but if it doesn’t touch on the qualities that business schools are looking for, it isn’t very helpful.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I wanted a program with a true international focus. IE Business School is internationally recognized as one of the top business schools in the world and its alumni network spans across the globe. Innovation and social responsibility are areas I would like to improve on or explore and IE is known to have one of the most entrepreneurial and socially conscious MBA programs. I also liked that the program is just one year so I won’t have to spend much time out of the workforce and also not spend quite as much on tuition! An added bonus is that I can improve on my Spanish.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I hope to become actively involved in several clubs that IE has to offer. I would like to hold a leadership position with IE’s Net Impact chapter and help organize major social impact events involving top business schools from around the world. I know business school can become overwhelming, so another goal I have for myself is to not to lose track of other things that are important to me including my family, my health, and my sanity!