Two years ago, I graduated business school, packed up my apartment and before moving out to San Francisco spent the next two weeks traveling with my family on vacation throughout the United States. At some point in my travels, my Mom asked me, “What did you learn in business school, how have you changed, and how does this impact your career moving forward? These were not exactly the types of questions one might expect on a relaxing family vacation, but to a certain degree they are pretty much what dinner is like in my own household, so while I should have expected these questions I was caught off guard. Eventually, I was able to answer my mom’s questions, and two years later, I have a much greater understanding of my experience, what I learned, and my life moving forward.
Being perplexed by those initial questions did fascinate me. As a big believer in using self-awareness and reflection as a means of learning and understanding, I figured that if these questions were perplexing me, I’m sure they were for others. To figure out and test my theory, I decided to interview a handful of to-be MBA graduates from some of the top MBA programs in the United States. the goal was simple: Ask people to reflect on their experience, what they did, what they learned, what they enjoyed and what they thought about their future. The process was fascinating, and I left feeling a sense of excitement and energy around the future of these MBA students and the many other to be MBA graduates.
While these interviews talked a lot about the importance of the relationships they built, the travels around the world and the jobs they were about to take, I also heard a lot around developing a sense of confidence and conviction in individual potential, a desire to make a large impact, and a focus on growth and learning, even in the face of failure or challenge. I found MBA graduates who used their MBA experience to transform themselves and the trajectory of their career and lives. Here are a few highlights of those that I interviewed:
Jeff and Katie Ellington (WG, ’17) – Jeff and Katie got married and directly moved across the country to Philadelphia to attend Wharton and further their careers in Venture Capital and Family Business. During their time at Wharton, both balanced spending time to expand their business skillset while further exploring experiences and initiatives that aligned with their own personal beliefs and values and how they can both positively influence society. And they managed to do all of this while spending time with each other as a young married couple.
Charlie Mangiardi (Stern, ’17) – Charlie previously worked in non-profit and wanted an MBA to gain the business skills needed to round out his non-profit experience. He used his time in New York to hone his financial and analytical skillset so he can build upon his experience in non-profits and education and work towards creating more educational opportunities for underprivileged and undeserved populations.
Holly Price (Ross, ’17) After a successful career at Deloitte Consulting, Holly moved to Ann Arbor and in a short two years left her mark at Ross through numerous contributions on the Ross community, all while learning how to focus on finding her own unique path and having the confidence to pursue that path despite the noise and distractions.
Kathryn Crimmins (Haas, ’17) – Even after having successful pre-MBA career in consulting and startups Kat moved across country to the Bay Area to attend Haas and to push herself out comfort zone while in by taking on risks in a supportive but empowering community. As a result of her experience, Kat walked away greater sense of confidence in her own abilities and aspires to encourage and empower other women to do the same throughout her future career.
Max Zevin (Kenan-Flager, ’17) – During his time in Chapel Hill, Max learned to focus and fall in love with the process. He applied this intense focus and discipline (which came from being a competitive triathlete) in many forms. Whether it was in successfully landing a consulting internship and full-time offer at Deloitte, or to serving in the leadership of the Management Consulting Club and helping improve the placement statistics for first years, Max’s effort and focus on his attitude and discipline drove substantial results for himself and for others.
Maureen Keegan (Darden, ’17) Maureen came to Charlottesville with a To-Do list, and spent her two years at Darden making sure she used every opportunity to check things off that list and was very successful in doing so. During the process of checking things off her list, she came across opportunities there were not initially on her radar, and through the support of her classmates and Darden professors kept an open mind by exploring some unforeseen opportunities. As a result, she gained valuable experiences she never thought she would have had.
Melanee Swanson (Kenan-Flager, ’17) – Melanee took Chapel Hill by storm, and quickly made her mark by winning the Deloitte National Case Competition, securing an internship (and full-time offer) at Deloitte, and helping countless students navigate the consulting internship process. Despite these accomplishments, there were plenty of challenges and obstacles that were thrown her way. Through her MBA experience, Melanee learned on her friends and classmates who quickly became like family, and learned the importance of focusing on what you can control.
Scott Landay (Berkeley-Haas, ’17) – Scott moved from Boston to Berkeley to transition careers from management consulting to brand management. While Scott achieved this goal, he gained so much more, such as a great study abroad experience in London, as well as an idea of his purpose and career goals along with the conviction and confidence to pursue them.
As you read through these stories and hear from these students, I’m sure you’ll see the transformational power of an MBA experience, and the diverse kinds of ways people use an MBA to further their own personal and professional aspirations.