Back in Pittsburgh

So I got back from Charlottesville Monday night. I am a little disappointed because I didn't get to do nearly as many things as I planned to in Charlottesville. I needed an extra day there... But that is OK, if I get an interview with Darden when I apply, that gives me a good reason to spend a few more days in Charlottesville! So as you can see from the last sentence, I am very interested in Darden! I will put together a full debrief of my visit this weekend.

Of the three schools I have visited today, here is my "wish" list in order:

1. Darden
2. Kenan-Flagler
3. Tepper

In Charlottesville

Well I have been in Charlottesville since 3:30 PM EST. It was a long day of travel, so this will be a short post. I did walk to the School of Business tonight. I took quite a few pictures, but here is just one of them at the entrance.

Charlottesville seems really nice. I love the architecture of the buildings. I can't wait to check out Monticello tomorrow, I am sure it is amazing! Well I am off to relax, tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Darden/Charlottesville Anticipation

Well the work week is finally over! All week I was thinking about my upcoming trip to Charlottesville. You would think since it's been on my mind constantly I would have my two day trip planned out.... Well, I don't! I know that I am going to walk the grounds on Sunday and try to fit in Monticello on Monday after my class visit/tour/lunch. Other than that, I don't have anything planned.

Everyone I talked to about Charlottesville said it is great. I hope it doesn't disappoint. As of right now, says it is supposed to rain both Sunday and Monday. I really hope it holds off. Rain gods, if you're reading this, DON'T LET IT RAIN!

I leave Pittsburgh Sunday morning and have a 6-hour drive. I will most likely have a new post up late that night with my initial thoughts on Charlottesville.

Call with a Darden Student

Yesterday, I had a call with a Darden student in a leadership role in the Healthcare Club. Here is a summary of our discussion.

Recruiting/Internship/Full Time Job
This student had his internship with a Finance company and is going to be working full time for the company following graduation. He ultimately wants to work in a Pharma company, but sees the position he accepted as a good bridge to his ultimate goal. I asked questions about how recruiting was going for his friends. He said it has been tough, but not nearly as bad as last year when they were looking for internships. He said roughly 65% of the students have a full time job offer right now.

Case Method
He said this was his primary reason for attending Darden. He loves the format and how it forces you to struggle through a difficult concept with limited information. I am really interested to sit in on a class and see the case method in action!

Learning Teams
Darden has what they call "Learning Teams." When you first start, you are paired with 5 or 6 other students. The school tries to set it up so that you are with a diverse group of students with different skills. Essentially, you meet with this group of students to discuss the cases prior to class. I think this is a great program because it gives you a chance to work with others and run your ideas by each other.

Darden Weakness
He said he felt the biggest weakness is the limited time for recruiting and traveling for job interviews. However, he said they are adjusting the schedules so this probably won't be as much of an issue in the future.

I asked if he had any advice for me. His advice was regarding essays. He said since you are visiting the grounds, make the essays personal. If something really stands out to you, make sure you point it out in your essays.

I had a call with a Tuck student a few days back. I will put together a debrief from that shortly.

Blog Design

I can't decide on a blog template and keep making changes. Anybody have any thoughts on this one? I think I might finally settle on this one!

Call with Tuck Alum

Yesterday, I had a call with a Tuck alum. I actually filled out the Tuck Connections ( form and the alum reached out to me the day after. I was very happy with the responsiveness! If you are interested in Tuck and want to speak with a current student or alum, I recommend filling out the form. I was interested in speaking with someone that was focused in general management and was in the Healthcare industry. The alum I spoke with was both. He currently works for a large Pharma company and graduated from Tuck in 2005. Here are some of the things we discussed:

General Management/Marketing

Career Switch
Yes, his degree in undergrad was actually in History. I was glad to hear this because he was able to make the transition to the Healthcare field. My undergrad degree is Business Administration and I am currently in the Travel Procurement and Fleet Management fields so Healthcare will be a career switch for me.

Experience at Tuck
He was very enthusiastic about Tuck. He stressed the how it truly is a collaborative school and that everyone helps each other out. I went on to ask about some study abroad opportunities and he told me about the International Field Study. Essentially, you are assigned a project team and you work on a consulting project in another country. He actually worked on his project in Hungary and Romania. Sounded very interesting and is definitely something I would want to participate in!

Job Opportunities
I didn't go too in depth with him on this because the economy is a little different than when he graduated in 2005. However, he did say that when he was going through recruiting roughly 60% of the on-campus recruiting were for positions in New Jersey, New York, and Boston. The other 40% was scattered throughout the country.

We talked about a few other things and he encouraged me to keep in touch and we could talk again as it gets closer to applications. He said he would be glad to share advice on essays and my application. I thought that was great and I will definitely keep in touch with him!

Questionnaire Update

So I have heard back from 3 Darden students and 2 Kenan-Flagler students from my questionnaires. I actually spoke on the phone with a Kenan-Flagler student for about 25 minutes last night which was pretty valuable. Also, I have a call scheduled on the 15th with a Darden student! I am very happy that the students I reached out to are so willing to help me out and answer all of my questions.

I sent my third questionnaire out to 3 Tuck students today. I already heard back from one of them that wants to schedule a call on Sunday!

Here is a quick summary of my conversation with the Kenan-Flagler student:

How has recruiting been this year?
She said it has been pretty rough, especially for international students. This seems to be a common theme with all of the students I talk to.

Have many Healthcare companies been recruiting on campus?

She said there are a lot of healthcare companies recruiting on campus. I told her I am interested in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) with a Healthcare company and she gave me contact information for a student that will be joining Johnson & Johnson for a LDP. I'm very happy about this! I can't wait to talk to this student because she is doing exactly what I want to!

How helpful have alumni been?

She said they have been very responsive and always willing to help out. However, most alumni aren't in a position to hire students.

What type of events does the General Management club sponsor?

She said a lot of different networking events. Here is a list of some of the things the club does:
-Match first year students with second year mentors.
-Provide lists of companies and positions for companies not recruiting on campus.
-Networking events to publicize different companies

How has your experience been at Kenan-Flagler?

She broke this down into two areas. She said first the school experience has been wonderful. It is a very close and collaborative group of students and she really got a lot out of her school experience. However, the recruiting experience has been terrible. She said it has been very stressful and difficult to find a job.

Questionnaire to Darden and Kenan-Flagler Students

Today, I put together two questionnaires for current Students at Darden and Kenan-Flagler. I sent one to students at Darden with leadership roles in the Healthcare club. I sent the second to students at Kenan-Flagler with leadership roles in the General Management club. In total, I sent the questionnaires to twelve current students. I didn't really know what to expect when I sent these, but to my surprise I have received two responses already. Two students from Darden have responded to my questions and one even offered to talk more in depth. Here is a sample of the questionnaire that I sent to Darden.

Hello, I am prospective student and will be applying to Darden’s MBA program in the Fall to be part of the class of 2013. I am interested in Healthcare field. Ideally, I would like to enter a Leadership Rotational Program with a Healthcare organization.

I found your contact information on the Healthcare club website and thought it would be appropriate to contact you. I am going to be visiting Darden on March 22nd and wanted to reach out to you in advance to gather some information. I hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you and I respect that you have a very busy schedule.

Here are a few of the questions that I was curious about:
  • Have you seen an increase in companies recruiting for the Healthcare industry at Darden?
  • What type of positions are these recruiters hiring for? Consulting, Leadership Rotational Programs, or other types of positions?
  • Does Darden have a strong alumni network in Healthcare?
  • How active is the Healthcare club and what are some of the future plans for the club?
  • Are there any professors you recommend I reach out to?
  • How has your experience been at Darden so far?
I appreciate any information that you can provide.

I highly recommend reaching out to students at your target schools with a similar questionnaire. It is a great way to research the schools and gain valuable information that you can use in your essays. I plan on creating additional questionnaires for all of my target schools. I will update my blog in the next few days after I hear back from some more of the students.

Tepper School of Business Campus Visit

I had my visit to Tepper on Wednesday, February 24. Overall, it was an interesting visit. I am from Pittsburgh, but this is actually the first time that I have been on the CMU campus.

With no traffic it would take me 35 to 40 minutes to get to CMU; with morning traffic, you never know! I was scheduled to have my class visit at 10:30, so I left my house at 8:30. Traffic actually wasn’t too bad and I was in the parking garage by 9:45. I had a little time so I took a brief walk around the campus. I got to the admissions office around 10:05. I was the first one there and they had a packet of information prepared for me. I read through this information as I waited for the other prospective students and current Tepper students. Shortly after, a first year student came in to talk and answer any questions. This format was pretty similar to Kenan-Flagler’s. There were only five prospective students visiting. Of the five prospective students, I was the only one applying for entrance in the Fall of 2011. All of the other prospective students were interviewing as R2 candidates. They were all in suits and I was in business casual (dress pants, buttoned shirt, and sweater). I felt very comfortable in that attire because I blended in with the students.

Class Visit
A student came to the admissions office and brought another prospective and me to class. We didn’t get an option in the class we were sitting in on. The admissions office scheduled us to sit in on a Macroeconomics class…. My first thought was Macroeconomics is not the most thrilling class to sit in on! Nonetheless, it was interesting as they discussed yield curves during class. There was a good interaction between the professor and the class. However, it was tense a few times as students challenged the professor on topics they didn’t agree with. I liked that the students expressed their opinions and tried to spur discussion. Overall, it was an interesting class but I would have preferred to sit in on a strategy, marketing, or finance class.

This was by far the best part of the campus visit. The tour guide was a second year student that was extremely outgoing and was very thorough! He showed us Posner Hall (the b-school building) and also took us around to other buildings on campus. He was extremely knowledgeable about CMU. He knew a lot of interesting facts. I asked him if he took a history course on CMU because he knew so much! Posner Hall was pretty nice and it seemed like the students were very collaborative. I didn’t feel there were enough study/group rooms in Posner Hall though. However, the library is very close by, so I guess it really isn’t a big issue. The one thing I liked about Tepper was that the business school was really part of the campus. At Kenan-Flagler, the business school building is kind of by itself, away from the rest of the campus. At least that is how I felt.

Three students took the five prospective students to lunch. The food was good, but we didn’t eat in the regular cafeteria. The students said we were only eating there because it was a campus visit and they don’t typically eat there. I spent most of lunch talking with two of the students. I had the opportunity to ask a lot of my questions. One thing the two students agreed on is that the mini (7.5 week classes) is good and you learn a lot, but it is too much sometimes. They felt like the school is just forcing too much on you. The other thing that was disappointing was that Tepper was a fall back for the two students. They didn’t get into their top choices, so they really had no choice but to go with Tepper. At least they were honest, but not necessarily something a prospective student wants to hear. I went on to ask some questions about recruiting. Both students were still interviewing for internships. It sounds like the recruiting on campus is down and the two students were doing a lot of searching for positions on their own. Overall, I was glad I had lunch with these students because they were brutally honest. At Kenan-Flagler, it seemed like the students were brainwashed to only say good things about the school.

On the way back to the admissions office from lunch, one of the prospective students was bragging about his GMAT score because he scored in the 99th percentile in verbal. The current students were visibly agitated with him for this. I just included this as a note to all prospective students, DON’T DO THIS!

Coffee with second year student
After lunch, I met with a second year student that worked at my company as an intern during the summer. We went to the library and grabbed a coffee and talked for an hour. It was great to be able to meet with him and ask him some questions about Tepper as well. He was very honest with me. From our conversation here are a few key points:
• He is an international student and recruiting on campus wasn’t very helpful for him. He has been searching on his own to try and find a job.
• Tepper wasn’t his top choice either.
• Tepper’s tuition is very high in relation to its ranking.

Internships, Student Clubs, and, Oh Yeah

Below is a link to an interesting blog post that was featured on BeatTheGMAT today. If some of you are trying to decide if an MBA is right for you, this might be interesting for you to read. Business school is definitely a challenging and extremely busy time in ones life. This type of life style might not be for everyone, but I love the idea of an intellectual challenge!

Internships, Student Clubs, and, Oh Yeah…Class

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Be on the look out for my detailed debrief from CMU tomorrow!

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