Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2017

Craig Tapper

Craig Tapper

University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business

Hometown: Tenafly, New Jersey

Undergraduate School and Major: Vanderbilt University, Political Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

CBS Interactive – Client Services Manager (2013-2015)

New York Yankees – Manager of Fan Development and Publications (2013)

New York Yankees – Assistant Manager of Fan Development and Publications (2012-2013)

New York Yankees – Senior Coordinator of Publications (2011-2012)

New York Yankees – Research Editor of Publications (2008-2011)

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? The GMAT is not a test you cram for, so learn the material and best practices incrementally. You’ll gain a lot more from focused studying for short periods of time. Really commit yourself to studying without distractions. Put away the cell phone for an hour! When you’re taking practice exams, make sure to best replicate a real testing experience. Most importantly, keep everything in perspective. While important, the test is just one component of your application.

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 and do your research! Communicate with as many people as possible. The more students, alumni, and faculty you speak to, the easier it will be to determine the right fit. You’ll easily begin to learn about what elements of the program mesh with your aspirations, especially if you ask targeted questions. Break your research up into categories and make sure that the schools check boxes to the attributes which you find most important.

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 – essays should be revised multiple times. You only get one chance at a first impression, so make it count with a sparkling essay that demonstrates depth and commitment. If you expect a stellar recommendation, make sure to provide your recommenders with ample time to craft a sincere submission. The recommenders likely know you well professionally, but make sure to talk openly with them, so they are well-versed on why you want to attend business school.

Practice a behavioral interview. Perhaps it has been awhile since you’ve interviewed. Make sure to have your relevant stories primed in order to tackle the standard questions smoothly and the confidence to roll with the curveball questions. Don’t let your admission interview be the first time you are answering these questions.

Be true to yourself – don’t fake who you are in an attempt to impress someone. It shows! Focus on the elements of your background and passions that fit with the program and demonstrate differentiation. Highlight what you believe makes you special, not what you believe people want to hear.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Marshall provided the perfect combination of location, network and international focus. After seven years in New York, I was eager to broaden my experiences to the West Coast. The Trojan Network (which is totally real) embraced me with extensive communication before I committed. The academic portion of the program is incredibly well-rounded, but the focus on international business was a major selling point. The school is able to attract top notch international talent. I knew this would foster a more well-rounded learning experience, broaden my network internationally, and stimulate me socially. But, at the end of the day, the deciding factor was that I could just see myself as part of this vibrant community.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I plan to challenge myself through rigorous classes, case competitions, and conversational debates with classmates in order to leave Marshall prepared for any professional obstacle. Marshall serves as the last chance for me to make mistakes in a safe space, so I plan to push myself by embracing projects and opportunities outside of my comfort zone.

I want to become a leader in our community – helping to position the program for the future by recruiting top talent and proudly representing Marshall.  I believe that any business school is only as strong as its students and alumni. When I decided to attend Marshall, I committed to a lifelong partnership with the institution and the community.

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