Pod Save The MBAs?

Adam Miller (left) and his ERG cofounder wrote more than 400 handwritten letters to get their coworkers excited about an ERG for new employees. Adam used that same strategy when following up with students and admissions officers in his business school applications. Courtesy photo

Soon after Adam Miller was accepted to the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business earlier this year, he heeded some sage advice from his network of current MBA students: He quit his position as a compensation specialist at Thrivent Financial in Minneapolis to take some time to “relax.” But relaxation wasn’t exactly in the cards.

With time on his hands, Miller purchased a microphone off Amazon Prime and decided to create a podcast interviewing his fellow incoming MBAs. At first, he thought, he would interview every person enrolling in his class at Darden. “But I didn’t think that would be very interesting,” he concedes.

Instead, Miller decided to interview at least one candidate from every elite business school around the country, mainly using the network he had built through The Consortium. The result is “The MBA Candidate,” a podcast that so far includes 10 interviews featuring candidates entering eight different B-schools this fall. For MBA applicants — especially those with a nontraditional background — it’s a must-listen.

Adam Miller got invited to interview at eight of the top 15 business schools in Round 1, but he was dinged at five of them and waitlisted at the other two. His dream school, UVA Darden, accepted him and offered him a full merit scholarship. Courtesy photo


Miller says he created the podcast to “show” future MBA applicants stories of non-stereotypical MBA students. But he also hopes to help his guests with recruiting efforts — as well as promote his own brand.

His podcast certainly features an inspiring and unique subset of the MBA population. Take Jonathan Chiquito, for example. Chiquito was the first of his family to go to college when he enrolled at California State University-Los Angeles. But then he began suffering from strokes. One was severe enough to wipe out Chiquito’s reading comprehension. Chiquito recounts his need to re-learn how to read for comprehension, literally one sentence at a time. Eventually he was able to graduate and became a financial analyst at Wells Fargo. Wanting to pivot to healthcare, Chiquito thought he’d try an MBA. So he turned to the GMAT.  “The GMAT was extremely humbling for me,” Chiquito says on the podcast. First he scored a 590. Then a 600, and then a 640. He didn’t reveal his fourth and final score, but it was enough to get admitted into Harvard Business School’s full-time MBA program.

Chiquito had gone from a first-generation college student from an immigrant family to an admit at one of the world’s most established and elite MBA programs — while essentially having to learn how to read. Twice.

“Just apply,” Chiquito advises future applicants in the podcast. “But if you’re going to apply, I would say do the work behind it. Talk to alumni. Talk to current students. Talk to professors. They want you there as much as you want to be there. They just want to see you put in the work required to get to a place like HBS. You have to work for it. You have to believe in yourself.”


Another episode of “The MBA Candidate” features Garry McBerryhill, who grew up on the Muscogee (Creek) Native Reservation in Oklahoma. “Our next-door neighbors were cattle and our cousins,” McBerryhill jokes on the podcast. Similar to Chiquito, McBerryhill was able to overcome long odds to get accepted into a top MBA program— in McBerryhill’s case, very long, after he dropped out of college during his first attempt. This fall, McBerryhill will enroll at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

Other podcast episodes feature a student entering Chicago’s Booth School of Business to be closer to a father who had a “major health scare,” and an accomplished attorney for the city of Atlanta who is entering into Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. The former attorney was racially profiled by the police while moving with his family to start the law program at Harvard — after having worked in Atlanta to defend police officers who have “gone too far.”

Miller says he plans to publish the remaining interviews he has conducted with other incoming MBA students. Plus, he says, he has an episode featuring a panel discussion with five military veterans enrolled at Virginia Darden. That episode will explore the “myths” the vets experienced during the MBA application process. Another upcoming episode will feature The Consortium.


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