Meet The Rice Jones MBA Class Of 2019

John Blake 

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less:  World-traveled educator. Aspiring quant nerd. Committed to becoming a role model for LGBT youth and POC.

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself:  In 2013, I performed on the main stage at the Seoul Queer Culture Festival (Seoul Pride) with South Korea’s first English-language, LGBT-affirming Christian organization, of which I was a founding member.

Undergraduate School and Major: Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Instructor and Special Programs Coordinator at Language Consultants International, Houston, TX

Instructor and Activities Director at LA Fitness, Houston, TX

Instructor at Pagoda Foreign Language Institute, Seoul, Korea

Head Instructor and Faculty Manager at Chungdahm Learning, Seoul Korea

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I have had the opportunity to move quickly into leadership positions at nearly every organization I have been a part of. As a result, I have had the chance to manage and develop many types of people, including new teachers fresh out of undergrad, people transitioning to education from the corporate sector, and even veteran instructors learning to incorporate new methodologies and technology into their teaching.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  Diversity conferences are a great place to figuring out if b-school is right for you. I was on the fence about applying until I attended the ROMBA (Reaching Out MBA – an organization supporting LGBTQ MBAs and alumni) Conference the fall prior to my application deadlines. ROMBA’s pre-MBA programming helped me understand the application process and get to know a lot of great schools. More importantly, seeing 1,500 MBAs from across the country together all at once gave me a clear sense of what this community really looks like. That is when I knew that I definitely wanted to be a part of it. Most diversity conferences and initiatives (National Black/Prospanica, Forte, MLT, etc.) have pre-MBA components, and they are by no means restricted to diversity candidates.

Additionally, especially for career switchers, look at Linkedin.  It’s a great resource to see where an MBA can take you and decide if it’s the right path for you. The option to filter your search results by company and by school lets you see where alumni of the specific programs have ended up, and what they’re doing. It will give you a better sense of what opportunities are out there post-MBA, and which schools will help you get there.

Finally, b-school is all about relationships. Once you figure out your target schools, do all you can to develop relationships with the admissions staff, the professors, the current students and alumni. I was lucky to be living in Houston as I was applying to Rice Business, so I had many opportunities to visit, find out what Owls excel at and are passionate about, and assess whether it was a good fit. Staying connected through coffee chats and class visits gave the school the same opportunity to get to know me. By the time I made my decision, a lot of administrators knew me by name and by face, had a sense of what I wanted to accomplish, and were committed to helping me reach my goals. Clicking “Accept” felt like coming home.

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? Rice Business has a strong reputation for rigorous analytical training. In undergrad and in my early career, I have focused a lot on leadership, communication and soft skills. Going forward into the next phase, it was really important to me to build a solid quantitative foundation. I knew that not only did Rice Business have a great reputation for preparing students for quantitative analysis, but also that it was intimately connected to several additional very technical spaces, including Rice University, the Texas Medical Center and the Houston oil and gas community.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  Crushing my quant classes. Getting a GPA above a 3.8. Developing strong connections both within Rice Business and externally by participating in national conferences and competitions. Maintaining a workout regimen. Implementing a new recruiting initiative bridging Rice, ROMBA and the Houston energy and health care sectors. Having a few great internship offers to choose from that align with my primary goals and drivers.

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