MBA@UNC Honors Pioneering Women in Business

Female entrepreneurs make up more than 30% of all enterprises in the United States, and the MBA@UNC blog celebrates that fact with its recently published list of 33 female founders forging their own path. Each …

Female entrepreneurs make up more than 30% of all enterprises in the United States, and the MBA@UNC blog celebrates that fact with its recently published list of 33 female founders forging their own path.

Each of the women featured has an MBA degree, and has experienced first-hand how going to business school transformed their career by giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful. I’m honored to share a place on this list among such bold and innovative women who have made their mark across a variety of industries, from health to technology, media to e-commerce.

Going through an MBA program helped me to think outside of the box. It completely opened my mind with regards to what I believed I was able to accomplish. I gained the broad range of skills needed to work on strategy, marketing, management and accounting issues, and I developed a network that I have tapped into and relied on every step of the way.

Most importantly, the MBA brought about a mind-shift which allowed me to come up with an idea and believe that I could be the one to make it happen…and then actually go for it and make it a reality.

I invite you to learn more about these inspiring entrepreneurs by following the link above.

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What Burning Man and B-School Have in Common

Though it’s November and fall is in full swing, I’m devoting today’s post to Burning Man, the late-summer ritual that draws over 60,000 participants to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada every year. On the …

Though it’s November and fall is in full swing, I’m devoting today’s post to Burning Man, the late-summer ritual that draws over 60,000 participants to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada every year.

On the surface, it would seem that there is very little overlap between the cultures of Burning Man and business school. The former’s participants are largely stereotyped as hippies and artists running off to escape the constraints of society for a week, while MBAs are seen as leaders of the types of industry and societal structures that Burning Man participants are trying to flee.

However, a closer look reveals that there is more in common between the two than one would think. In fact, aspiring MBAs can learn valuable lessons from the Burning Man community…

Please click over to the Wharton Blog Network to read the rest of this article. I promise you’ll see Burning Man and b-school in a whole new light!

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Plan Your Time Wisely in Round 2

By the end of this week, we’ll be halfway through November already—can you believe it? What’s even harder to believe is that Round 2 deadlines will start to hit in less than two months. And …

By the end of this week, we’ll be halfway through November already—can you believe it? What’s even harder to believe is that Round 2 deadlines will start to hit in less than two months. And since end-of-year wrap-ups at work—not to mention the holidays—will consume a ton of your time in the coming weeks, those deadlines will be here in the blink of an eye. That’s why getting application materials finalized before early January requires a laser-like focus.

You need to ask yourself the following questions before you get started:

  1. How many hours per week can I dedicate to applications before deadlines arrive?
  2. Which schools on my list have the highest priority—and why?
  3. What’s more important: increasing my odds of getting in somewhere, or knowing that I at least gave my best shot to the top programs I’m interested in, even if I am not accepted?
  4. Am I prepared to wait until next year to apply, or is it “now or never”?

If you want to go back to school next year no matter what, but don’t have enough spare time to pull together quality MBA applications in about eight or nine weeks, something’s gotta give.

Make sure you’re casting a wide net with the programs you’re targeting. Do some research on acceptance rates and average class demographics; try to think positively, but still realistically, about your odds and select your schools accordingly.

If you’re just not going to be able to pull yourself away from career, extracurricular and family obligations in the near future, focus on only the schools you’re most interested in rather than making a half-baked effort across several applications.

Then buckle down, start politely declining as many non-essential commitments as you can, and get to work. Competition is fierce in Round 2, and it’s a tough time of the year to find extra hours. Use that knowledge to fuel your commitment to your MBA applications and put together the best materials you can.

Remember:

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. Stephen Covey.

Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.

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What is a Good GRE Score?

Are you heading to business school and thinking about taking the GRE? Our friends at Magoosh have created a nifty infographic to help answer the million dollar question: what is a good GRE score? The …

Are you heading to business school and thinking about taking the GRE? Our friends at Magoosh have created a nifty infographic to help answer the million dollar question: what is a good GRE score?

Magoosh GRE InforgraphicThe fact is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Depending on the programs you’re applying to, a “good score” could take on various amounts. The infographic is organized by grad school programs, so you can quickly scroll through to find the average test scores necessary to get into any engineering, physical sciences, business, and more, grad programs.

So take a look at the Magoosh infographic and learn to answer the loaded “what’s a good GRE score?” question with ease!

Posted in Test Prep Advice | Tagged ,

Overcome 3 MBA Application Challenges Facing Military Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, we are re-posting a story from earlier this year with advice on transitioning from the military to business school. This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on …

In honor of Veterans Day, we are re-posting a story from earlier this year with advice on transitioning from the military to business school.

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

When it comes to some of the key qualities elite business school admissions officers are looking for in MBA applicants – demonstrated leadership and management skills, an ability to motivate and work well in a team and international and cultural awareness – military veterans typically display them in spades.

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Benjamin Faw, HBS MBA ’14

Coming from the armed forces rather than a civilian career path prior to business school can give rise to certain difficulties when drafting an application, however. Let’s take a look at some common areas in the application where veterans face challenges and find out how to mitigate them.

1. Difficulty explaining experiences in civilian terms: Top MBA programs welcome military applicants and offer seats to veterans each year. So while it’s logical to assume the admissions committee is very familiar with the perspective of applicants with a military background, your application essays, resume and interviews need to make sense to a civilian reader.

“Language and terms from the military are often hard to translate into civilian terms, making it hard to communicate what you accomplished and why it matters,” says Ben Faw, an Army combat veteran from West Point who received his MBA from Harvard Business School this spring. “With limited experience in telling their stories to the civilian world, sometimes a veteran will have trouble clearly and succinctly explaining their own personal story.”

To counteract that, military veteran applicants should enlist trusted advisers outside of the military to proofread essays and help translate any military jargon in the MBA resume into plain English. Ask yourself if what you were writing would make sense to a civilian with no military experience.

Weaving stories from the military into your MBA essays is expected and encouraged, particularly where they illustrate leadership accomplishments in a high stress environment, or how you persevered in the face of setbacks. But your essays should also highlight experiences outside of the armed forces, either during college or related to your extracurricular interests.

Veteran applicants often worry about presenting a clear, concise career goal post-MBA, especially if they have little experience in business. This is not as critical as you might think, since many MBA students change industries entirely as they explore the myriad possibilities offered at business school. Begin by clearly articulating why you’re leaving the military, and why an MBA is necessary to achieve that goal.

[Follow these steps to develop a personal brand as an MBA hopeful.]

2. Trouble handling recommenders and interviews: When trying to decide whom to approach for a letter of recommendation, think about people who have encouraged your development as an individual and leader, and, as you prepare to leave the service, ask if they would provide a supportive reference.

I suggest all applicants create a recommender package, which contains instructions on the process, a reminder list of your strengths with on-the-job examples as well as a growth area you’re working on, and a summary of your career goals that the recommender can use as a reference.

While military applicants may feel uncomfortable approaching a senior officer with this level of coaching, leaving matters to fate could result in a lackluster recommendation, especially if the officer doesn’t have a lot of experience writing letters of recommendation. In most cases, your recommenders will appreciate your assistance and thoroughness, and will produce a better recommendation on your behalf.

If you’ve passed that first important hurdle and are invited to interview, congratulations!

Interviewers will usually be very interested in learning about your military experiences, so capitalize on that enthusiasm. Organize your thoughts by jotting down all of your really cool stories. Then, for each one, write a brief summary of what you did, how it made a difference and what you learned from it. Practice mock interviews with family and friends until you feel at ease discussing your military experience in a way everyone will understand.

And remember, it’s okay to talk about your successes in the first person rather than recounting everything as a team victory. This is how you differentiate yourself and reinforce your personal brand.

3. Not knowing how to maximize your resources: The single best resource for applicants coming from the armed forces is the MBA veterans club of the schools you’re considering. Those who have gone before you and succeeded are almost always willing to go above and beyond to share their advice on what has worked for them.

From providing essay and resume tips to offering an authentic view of the veteran experience on campus, these groups are your go-to resource for insight into the school and guidance for your application.

Many schools waive the application fee for U.S. military members and veterans who have served on active duty, and the federal agency Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, known as DANTES, will reimburse the GMAT or GRE General fee for eligible military personnel. Also, pre-MBA candidates can take advantage of boot camps and paid fellowships through MBA Veterans during the summer before their first term.

An MBA is a great next step for transitioning veterans no matter what branch of service they come from. When asked what advice he would offer future applicants, Faw says veterans should know, “There is something special about you, your experience in the military and what you want to do next. Make sure your application reflects those unique aspects that make you who you are. Authenticity is awesome.”

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4 Factors to Consider About European MBA Programs

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com As business becomes more global, future MBA applicants may ask themselves if they should consider heading abroad for business school. In many cases, the …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

As business becomes more global, future MBA applicants may ask themselves if they should consider heading abroad for business school. In many cases, the answer will be yes.

The best business schools attract international students and faculty of the highest caliber, and in terms of rankings, elite European programs perform as well as many top programs in the U.S.

According to the latest top MBA salary and job trends report, international study experience is sought by 67 percent of MBA employers, and recruiters “most significantly agree that candidates with international experience outperform those without.”

There are four factors you should weigh to determine if a European business school is a better fit to help you reach your career goals.

1. Global networking optionsIf you want to build a global network in a multicultural environment, then apply to schools that can help you fulfill those goals.

While MBA programs at Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business have sterling reputations worldwide, just 17 percent of 2013 HBS grads and 13 percent of 2014 Stanford MBA grads found work abroad after graduation. If you know you want to work in Europe, you’d be better off choosing a local school where you can network directly with employers.

2. Greater classroom diversity: The top programs in Europe tend to be much more internationally oriented, with 96 percent of the class coming from outside the country at some schools. Think about how that culturally diverse mix enriches class discussions, as well as creates networking opportunities that span the globe.

There is one caveat to the diversity of top European programs: They typically enroll fewer women compared with U.S. business schools. For example, IMD, a business school in Switzerland, is 96 percent international with a 24 percent female representation. INSEAD, in France, is 96 percent international but women make up 36 percent of the student body.

[Know the four questions to ask yourself before applying to b-school.]

3. Lower average GMAT scores: Test scores are one of the key data points in the MBA admissions process, and in Europe you’ll often find GMAT scores trending lower than in the U.S., making them slightly less competitive. This is likely due to the fact that many students attending European schools are not native English speakers, so the admissions committees allow applicants a bit more wiggle room with their scores.

At the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the average GMAT score was 723 for the class of 2014, 721 at New York University Stern School of Business and 728 at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. However, at similarly ranked schools in Europe the averages were much more attainable: 700 at London Business School, 685 at HEC Paris and 670 at IE Business School.

[Don't make one of these surprising application mistakes of prospective MBAs.]

4. More established students: Students at European business schools also tend to have more years of work experience under their belts than those attending U.S. schools, which could come as a relief to applicants worried they skew too “mature” for a seat at the most competitive programs.

Another draw: Most of the programs are one year in length, saving both time and money for older candidates with families who don’t want to be out of the workforce too long. The shorter time frame doesn’t mean a skimp on learning, however. One-year European MBA programs will have a heavier workload in order to maintain the quality and integrity of the program.

If your professional goal is to live and work abroad, pursuing an MBA in your desired location is arguably the best introduction to business life in that country. A cultural immersion experience of this kind is not without its challenges, but most participants would agree studying abroad is not just financially rewarding, but personally fulfilling as well.

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