Meet Columbia’s MBA Class of 2018

diana-berkovits-columbia-poetsandquants-classof2018

Diana Berkovits

 

Columbia Business School

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Intelligent, ambitious, athletic and confident; a self-starter with a sense of humor

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I play flag football several days a week, and love quarterbacking

Undergraduate School and Major: Ithaca College – B.S. in Exercise Science, Columbia University – M.A. in Applied Physiology

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Exercise Physiologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, Clinical Research Manager at Mount Sinai Hospital

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Presenting a research paper last year at the largest international conference (American Thoracic Society) in my field of medicine (pulmonary)

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? You do not need a lot of money to excel on the GMATs or make it through the admissions process.Take advantage of every resource you have at your disposal. I had a friend who took the GMATs a few months before me. He did really well and offered to loan me his study materials and help me study. I accepted, and his tutelage was invaluable to my GMAT preparation. I reached out to another friend who had taken the GMATs a year before me and she sent me her consolidated study notes. My advice is to accept help — every step of the way. Going through this process is grueling, difficult, and frustrating at times; you need not go through it alone.

Do your best to reduce stress before the exam. I postponed my test for a month (it only costs $50 to do this if it’s at least a week or so before the test date) because I felt like I was not achieving desired scores on my practice exams. I ended up scoring 50 points higher on the real exam, compared with my highest scoring practice test. According to a friend, I’m a “gamer,” and there was no doubt I would do better in the testing environment than at home with my dog running around and various other distractions.

Speaking of distractions, choose your test center wisely. I took the test in New York City and there was very loud construction happening on the floor above, that even the noise canceling headphones did not negate. Who knows? I may have done even better, if not for the noise. If you are easily distracted, I suggest choosing a site in a more remote area.

For your essays – choose a few (Between 1-3 would be ideal) close friends, family members, or colleagues who can dedicate time to edit your work. I chose my friend who had just gone through the business school application process, a good friend who had worked in editing and my brother’s fiancé, a lawyer who is well-versed in writing and re-writing. These people dedicated countless hours just to help me succeed; I will forever be grateful to them.

The admissions interview is something you can never be too prepared for. The internet is a wonderful resource — you can find common admissions interview questions for countless schools on web sites like GMAT Club Forum. I used this site often to answer timed GMAT test questions for free; read blogs about the testing and admissions process; and get questions answered in real time from other prospective applicants, admissions officers and current or former business school students.

The Columbia interview, usually run by an alumnus, is more of a conversation than an interrogation. I was over-prepared (which is never a bad thing!) and felt as though my interviewer was genuinely interested in my background, rather than in getting answers to standard interview questions. Even the setting was casual; we met in a bar/restaurant with popular music playing in the background. She told me she thought I’d be a great addition to the school and to let her know how it all turned out; her feedback was submitted that same evening.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I was impressed by the plethora of lectures and events catering to students interested in pursuing a degree at Columbia; especially the extensive outreach to women. One of the first events I attended, a CWIB (Columbia Women in Business) event, opened my eyes to what resources I would have at my fingertips at CBS. One of the club officers spoke of CEOs sneaking into the back of our lecture halls and listening in as we dissected their companies’ real life cases. I was in awe of how close Columbia students get to the companies they aspire to join, without even leaving the classroom.

I wanted to go to school in or around New York City, and Columbia, by far, felt like the right fit. Everyone, from the admissions officers to current students to alumni, gave me so much of their time and was so willing to answer my questions and dole out valuable advice. No other school provided as much insight into what life would be like as part of their program; at CBS, I felt like a student before I even applied.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? The greatest thing about the MBA application process is how much you learn about yourself along the way. I have been working on the provider side of the healthcare industry for many years and initially my dream was to be CEO of a major hospital. After a year of MBA tours, lectures, information sessions and personal conversations with students and alumni, I am more open to the idea of expanding my career horizons. I recently attended a Deloitte Consulting networking event for incoming MBA students and spoke with a partner and high-level executive in their healthcare group. I realize that, as a consultant, my brand of expertise would be valued highly, and am looking forward to further exploring this industry as I embark on my MBA journey. Deloitte felt like a family, with employees who genuinely care for one another; meeting with them made me less nervous about leaving my current job and all the wonderful colleagues I have come to consider as friends.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? That I made an impact in their lives and they can see me continuing to influence others in a meaningful way. That I was one of the best and most well-rounded athletes ever to attend CBS.  That, as a native New Yorker, I helped introduce classmates to everything this city has to offer. That I was a leader, an innovator and a dear friend.

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