Justin Parker Buell
University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business
Hometown: Midland, MI
Undergraduate School and Major: Tulane University – B.A. Economics
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
United States Army, Captain, Operations Officer
Investment analyst, Orion Forecasting, LLC
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? The longer it’s been since you’ve taken a formal math course, the longer you’ll need to prepare. It can come back quickly, but reviewing basic skills and problems is important. Understanding the format of the tests, including timing myself doing practice test sections, really helped me feel comfortable on test day.
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? Be honest with yourself about where you want to work after graduation as well as within which industry. Don’t go to an east coast school if you want to land a job on the west coast. Conversely if you want to work in Manhattan, look for a program that is geographically closer in order to facilitate networking. Each program has a slightly different brand. Try to figure out what is the best fit for you. Don’t focus only on rankings found online.
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. It’s not always easy to talk about yourself and your accomplishments. Get help from peers and supervisors; be aware that there are plenty of applicants out there hiring professionals for assistance. To be competitive you must do multiple drafts and prepare well for interviews. Don’t forget interviews are two-way streets too. One program had a second year MBA student poorly conduct my interview and it completely changed my perception of their program. After I ended the Skype session, I crossed their name off of my list of prospective programs, despite its “higher ranking.”
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I tend to deeply analyze all big life decisions so there were a lot of factors that led to my decision to choose USC. For example, the Trojan Network is real, it’s powerful, and it’s far-reaching. To me, life is so much more than just taking money and turning it into more money and I love that USC is committed to giving back to the community via the Challenge for Charity. I also love that USC has a championship culture which emphasizes building teams and developing leaders. Finally, after spending the past two years working in Seoul, I knew I wanted to work in Asia and along the Pacific Rim. USC’s PRIME program is well-established and is an indication of the program’s relevance in the global marketplace. I couldn’t imagine a better fit.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Ultimately, I’d like to develop a professional network and the relevant skills to successfully transition from the military into the civilian sector. I want to be exposed to companies, roles, and industries that do not traditionally recruit military officers in order to find a great career which will allow me to live and work across the Pacific Rim.