New York University, Stern School of Business
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Intellectually curious, self-motivated team player, always looking to push the limits of my comfort zone
Hometown: Old Greenwich, CT
Fun Fact About Yourself: Prior to applying to business school, I was a member of the United States Army. Part of my training as a Special Forces candidate involved parachuting from an aircraft. On my first ever jump, the first thing I felt as I hurled myself from the door of the C-130 was the blast of hot, fuel-soaked air from the turboprop, followed by the most serene calm I think I’ve ever experienced as my parachute opened. The second thing I felt was my best friend’s boot on my helmet as he sailed through the risers of my parachute, got tangled and swung down under me with a look of terror painted across his face that likely mirrored my own. With only seconds before our combined weight brought us hurtling to the ground, I managed to wrestle my way through his risers and “steer” myself away from what would have been a painful and ugly joint landing. Somehow, I am no longer afraid of heights.
Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College, Environmental Science and Engineering
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
- United States Army – Special Forces Candidate, Infantry Team Leader, Data Analytics Project Manager, Psychological Operations Sergeant
- Carnegie Pollak Academic & Test Prep Consulting – SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE & High School Mathematics Tutor
- Behavior-Enhanced Adaptive Smart Thermostat (BEAST) – Co-founder and CEO
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I blew my knee out, I knew right away that my military career was not going to follow the path I had set out in my mind and that, for the time being, my journey toward being a Green Beret was over. However, the Army’s size and structure present ample opportunities to find silver linings. While recovering from my injury, I taught and mentored junior soldiers as a squad leader in an infantry platoon I assembled and led a team that implemented a new data analytics platform across a 3,000 person brigade and I tried out for and was selected to attend the Army’s Psychological Operations course. While finding a way back into the Special Operations world felt like the accomplishment at the time, upon further reflection, the real success was adapting to and overcoming a career-altering obstacle and learning more about myself through that process than I otherwise ever could have.
Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? The most important piece of advice I received sounds somewhat cliché and is certainly easier said than done: figure out what you want. I don’t necessarily mean figure out what company you want to work for after your MBA. I mean take the time to figure out what drives you; what makes you get up in the morning; what keeps you up at night; what problems in the world strike you as most significant; and what you think you might be interested in doing to solve them.
You absolutely do not have to have all of the answers when you apply to school (I certainly am still working on answering these questions every day). However, figuring out what makes you feel like your best self and narrowing down the types of challenges you hope to seek out will clarify the entire b-school application process and allow you to choose the schools whose curriculums, faculty and students are most aligned with your goals. The GMAT is a beast but it just requires putting in the work. Recommendations should be from those who can most honestly speak to your character and abilities, and the admissions interview is all about being a human being. Everything will be easier if your story about who you are and why you want to go to that specific school are actually genuine, so take the time to consider what makes you and the rest will fall into place.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The main thing I was looking for when I was researching schools was an environment in which people genuinely wanted to work with one another to solve big, complex problems. You’ll hear many schools talk about their collaborative environments. Until you visit a school and sit down with current and former students, you won’t really be able to tell who’s being honest about their culture. While on the subject of honesty, I myself had reservations about applying to a school in a big city because I figured everyone came to class during the day and then went their separate ways, disappearing back into the fray of New York. I was lucky enough to have a close friend at NYU Stern who suggested I come meet some of his friends, sit in on a few classes, and participate in some of the “extracurricular” activities he and his classmates had planned for the weekend. I am so happy I listened to him. Had I not, I would have missed out on what is shaping up to be an incredible two years in New York, surrounded by people who thrive on working together and for whom spending time with and learning from their classmates is second nature. When NYU Stern talks about their emphasis on IQ+EQ in their application process, they actually mean it.
What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I’m still exploring the incredible range of opportunities open to MBAs but for me, a successful first year of school will include pushing myself harder than is comfortable academically, meeting and learning from as many of my classmates as possible, and successfully landing an internship at a consulting firm that focuses not only on helping companies perform and grow but on having a lasting impact on the societies in which they operate. Down the road, I hope to leverage the skills I’ve learned in business school, the leadership experience I’ve had in the military, and the knowledge I’ll gain through constantly solving problems in the consulting industry to help businesses grow in some of the more underserved and conflict-prone areas of the world. I’m excited to start this next chapter of my life and if you’re still on the fence about applying to school, I highly encourage you to take the plunge, you won’t regret it.