Meet Warrington’s MBA Class of 2017

Katherine O'Hara Florida

Kate O’Hara           

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

Hometown: Tampa, FL

Undergraduate School and Major:  University of Pennsylvania, Political Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:  Central Intelligence Agency, Analyst; Office of Naval Intelligence, Analyst           

Where will you be interning this summer? The Coca-Cola Company

What led you to choose the University of Florida for your full-time MBA?

Coming from a somewhat unusual background, it was really important to me to find a program where I felt comfortable.  I focused on programs that were smaller, because I felt that a tailored program and close connections with my classmates and administrators were what I needed to guide my development. UF MBA has met, and in many cases exceeded, all of those expectations. Career services is really top notch, and our counselors are available whenever needed to talk through career options, interview techniques, and strategies to best negotiate offers.  Additionally, by having smaller cohort sizes, I have been able to spend more time learning from my professors and have had more opportunities to be engaged or take on leadership roles.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the program so far?

Having a background in intelligence, analyzing complex situations and then communicating that analysis to executives has been a consistent theme in my career. I was able to put those skills to the test through the recent Southeastern Conference (SEC) MBA case competition. The case, which focused on marketing and sustainability, challenged me to stretch my business and analytic skills. Additionally, I was not only tasked with presenting a portion of our analysis, but I also played a strong role in defending our recommendation through a question and answer period. All of the effort paid off when I was named one of four “best presenters” out of the 56 individuals at the competition. I look forward to participating in more case competitions next year, challenging myself to further refine my analytic and communication skills.

What advice do you have for applicants in applying to a school, taking the GMAT, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf?

Sifting through the immense number of business programs and options can be daunting. My biggest piece of advice for potential applicants is to take a strategic step back before getting wrapped up in GMAT prep, essay writing, or interviews to really think about your goals and aspirations. Knowing your desired end state will directly influence what type of program you should apply to. Business schools all have different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yourself and what you want will make the process once you are in school so much smoother.

What advice do you for students to help them thrive their first year of business school?

Focus on growth and push yourself. While it may be easy to stick to those classes or activities that play to your strengths, you will get the most out of school if you do things that are different and challenging. For many of us, this will likely be one of our last opportunities to be fully immersed in an academic environment. Take advantage of that time to explore those things you have always wanted.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?

I hope to leave a legacy of empowerment to those MBAs coming after me at the University of Florida. Coming from a fairly unusual background, I was at times apprehensive about what challenges may lie ahead in business school. However, when I started the program I quickly learned that those of us who are “nontraditional” are increasingly common. My classmates are teachers, lawyers, doctors, and veterans, in addition to the more traditional professions. In a competitive and globalized job market, that diversity is an advantage, and I believe that students from all walks of life and backgrounds can benefit from a business education.

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