Krishna Collective: Top 20 MBA in My 20s – A Journey Beyond Self-Doubt

First class photo after Emory’s orientation

From the moment I started the MBA program, I was grateful. Navigating the business world was both exciting and challenging for someone with a non-business background. While many perceive business school as a mere precursor to a corporate career, it was about finding myself and refining my professional goals for me.

Interestingly, I hadn’t even considered business school as a part of my plan. However, a visit to Emory University’s Goizueta Business School completely shifted my perspective. You never truly anticipate the opportunities that lie ahead. By the age of 21, I was enrolled as a full-time MBA student at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, one of the top 16 MBA programs in the nation.’

Krishna’s Day 1 Selfie at Goizueta is a tradition on the first day of orientation as an MBA student


Childhood phrases have a way of sticking with us. Growing up, I constantly heard, “You need to become a doctor.” So, I started as a Biology major at Nova Southeastern University. Soon after, the excitement of studying cells waned and I switched majors to Public Health. I was drawn to the idea of community engagement, bridging disparities, and driving real change. After graduation during COVID-19, I began to doubt. Was medicine truly my calling, or had I been following a path set by others? I realized my choices might have been shaped by limited exposure in my small town and family influence.

Raised in Titusville, FL — a quaint town on Florida’s east coast primarily known for its ties to NASA — my exposure to corporate America was minimal. The majority of Titusville’s residents, including those I knew, were engaged in blue-collar jobs. My first glimpse into the world of business came through friends at the University of Miami, who were pursuing business degrees.

After graduation, I settled in South Miami to work at the Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease Research. Here, I quickly faced a decision: forge a new path or return to the familiar surroundings of Titusville. Drawn by a growing interest in business, I began researching MBA programs in May 2022. For someone transitioning from a field like public health, an MBA can be a game-changer. It provides a solid foundation in business, broadens professional networks, and introduces potential career paths that might have been overlooked.


I began my search by looking at schools in Georgia, aiming to stay close to family in the Southeast. Initially considering Georgia State due to its open application cycle, my visit to Atlanta led me unexpectedly to Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. I had previously heard of Emory from my professor at Nova Southeastern University, Shari Ramchal, an alumnus of their Rollins School of Public Health. During my tour, the intimate classrooms, and strong corporate relationships stood out. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with graduate admission advisors, Colleen Cox and Christina Lopez. Their insights greatly reinforced my interest in Emory.

Post-tour, I spoke with Cox and Lopez to discuss my potential as an MBA candidate. I opened up about my desire to shift career paths after years spent trying to adhere to family expectations of entering medicine. Their encouragement eased my doubts about enrolling as a non-traditional MBA candidate. They understood my concerns about my limited work experience, lack of a business background, and the intensity of Goizueta’s academic courses. Despite missing the official deadline, I showcased initiative by reaching out to the admissions director. To my gratitude, the director offered a glimmer of hope: a potential seat opened in the 2022-2024 cohort – provided I submitted my application promptly. I’m thankful I voiced my uncertainties, despite initial reservations about whether I was the right fit for the program or if it was the right time.

On July 15th, 2022, around 4 am, I submitted my full-time MBA application to the Goizueta School of Business. A week after submitting my application, I received an unexpected call from MBA Admissions. I had been invited for an interview. A mix of emotions—joy, anxiety, anticipation—overtook me, prompting me to prepare overnight for anticipated behavioral questions. At the time, I was visiting my family in India for the first time in 12 years. Navigating a nearly 10-hour time difference, I began my interview with the admissions director at around 10 pm.

First class photo after orientation for Emory Goizueta's MBA Class of 2024

Krishna as a first year at Emory


We delved into the program’s details—its small classroom sizes, dedicated faculty support, rigorous curriculum, real-world internship experiences, and impressive alumni network. A question I anticipated did come up: “How do you plan to work with classmates who have 5 to 10 more years of experience than you?” I recall my response clearly: ‘I intend to view my classmates’ experiences as learning opportunities, not as a source of intimidation.’

Throughout the interview, I emphasized viewing an MBA at Emory as pivotal for my career shift. I highlighted my public health background, emphasizing skills like effective communication with diverse groups, evaluating community challenges, and understanding the importance of relationship-building. I demonstrated that I had done my research by citing the 2021 Employment report, which highlighted that 99% of the graduating class accepted job offers within three months after graduation, further reinforcing my decision to choose Emory. It was clear: my hunger for continuous learning and leadership development was in sync with Emory’s offerings. I knew I had found my place.

As the interview wrapped up, I was flooded with relief. To be honest, it felt like the most successful interview I’d ever completed. The interview felt less like an interview and more like a conversation, making the process easier. After just one day of preparation, supplemented by ten rigorous hours of behavioral training, I anxiously awaited their decision. By mid-July, their response arrived: Emory saw my potential and decided to take a chance on me. I realized the power of authenticity during the application process. Instead of hiding my non-traditional background, I embraced it.

Since my acceptance, every moment at Emory has been a treasured learning experience. From grappling with rigorous CORE classes to navigating a competitive internship recruitment process – where some recruiters mistakenly equated my limited work experience with limited success potential – every challenge has been an opportunity for growth.


Krishna Thakkar, 2nd year at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

Adjusting socially also meant tapping into the vast reservoir of knowledge and experience my classmates brought from diverse industries and life paths. My classmates turned out to be my greatest support system and resource by serving as tutors for difficult concepts and open ears during low moments in the recruiting cycle. Being introduced to subjects like accounting, economics, and finance at a graduate level was initially daunting. However, now as a second-year student, I deeply appreciate the exposure to various business domains. These insights have proved invaluable during my summer internship and beyond.

What stands out most is the unwavering commitment of the faculty. Educators like JB Kurish, Suhas Sridharan, and Klaas Baks consistently go above-and-beyond, ensuring students are poised for success both academically and professionally. During CORE, I deeply appreciated Professors JB Kurish and Suhas Sridharan for taking time outside of regular class hours—even on Saturdays—to break down finance and accounting concepts. Additionally, I reached out to Professor Klaas Baks, who provided guidance on my final project for my summer internship at Loop Capital. The dedication of the Emory faculty to their students is unparalleled.

While I’ll explore my unconventional transition from public health to an investment banking internship in a future narrative, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I am immensely grateful for my journey to and through Emory University. Trusting one’s judgment and seizing opportunities, even those that seem distant or daunting, is vital. It’s essential to have faith in oneself and the paths it can open.

Krishna Thakkar is a second-year student at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, majoring in Consulting & Strategy. Originally from Titusville, Florida, she spent her early years in India. Having graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a background in public health, her experience primarily revolves around social justice nonprofits in the public and education sectors. Krishna is passionate about amplifying diverse voices and narratives, while honing her storytelling abilities.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.