BC Alum Interview: Jessica Williams


Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Recent posts have included Q&As with Goreleigh Willis, Crystal Forde , and Kibra Yemane about their first year MBA experiences. This time around Jessica Williams shares some of her insights and advice on her MBA experience. Jessica completed her MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business
 
Why did you decide to apply to business school?
Business school had been on the radar since my days in undergrad, but I never knew what that looked like back then. As I was rounding out that 2.5 year mark at work, I knew that what I was doing professionally, although I was learning a lot, was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to take my career in another direction and get exposure to something that was more fulfilling. There were a few interests that I had swirling in my head, so in order to help make sense of those ideas and to help turn those into reality, I joined the organization MLT and thus began my journey to business school!

Musings from an MBA 1st Year in Action

BC Alum and Johnson MBA 1st Year Kayla Baker

 

Today’s post comes from a Bell Curves guest blogger and former student. Kayla Baker is a first-year MBA Candidate at the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Prior to business school, she worked at the JPMorgan Private Bank for 3 years as a Junior Portfolio Manager; most recently, Kayla worked as an Account Manager at the education non-profit, Citizen Schools. At Johnson, Kayla is a member of the General Management and High-Technology clubs. Kayla holds a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College.

In this, her inaugural post, Kayla shares some thoughts on how to best prepare for the rigors of business school and maximize your experience.

 

While top business schools attract some of the most ambitious, successful people, returning to school comes with a few challenges. Sure, there’s a reward in the end, but in order to get there, I’d like offer a few considerations to help you prepare:

On the Record: Q&A with BC Alumnus Kibra Yemane

Bell Curves and Kelley School of Business Alum Kibra Yemane

Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Recent posts have included Q&As with Goreleigh Willis and Crystal Forde about their first year MBA experiences. This time around Kibra Yemane shares some of her insights and advice on her MBA experience. Kibra completed her MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Why did you decide to apply to business school? 

I applied to business school in order to transition to a career in Human Resources. Prior to business school, I worked for a public accounting firm for about six years. While I enjoyed my time, I also realized that I was more passionate about talent management, recruiting, diversity – areas that typically fall under the HR umbrella. When I did some more research, I realized that more and more companies placed an emphasis on the HR function – and were interested in training the next crop of HR leaders through leadership development programs. When I realized one of the requirements for this program was an advanced degree, I knew the MBA was the next logical step for me.

On The Record: Q&A with BC Alum Crystal Forde

Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Our last On the Record post was a Q&A with Goreleigh Willis. This time around Crystal Forde shares some of her insights and advice on the 1st year MBA experience.

Bell Curves fav Crystal Forde is currently in wonderful San Fransisco while doing a summer internship.

Crystal is currently an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where she is focusing on Health Sector Management and Strategy. At Fuqua she is a cabinet member of the Healthcare Club and a daytime MBA blogger, and has led a Global Academic Travel Experience Trip to India and co-chaired the Admitted Students Weekend. Prior to business school she spent five and a half years in various sales roles at Pfizer and AstraZeneca, where she had a strong track record of transforming territories by increasing market share and exceeding sales goals. Crystal holds a BBA in Marketing with Honors distinction from Oakwood University.

 

What’s the most surprising aspect of your first year in an MBA Program?

On the Record: Q&A with BC Alumni Goreleigh Willis

Last year we posted several Q&As with former Bell Curves students (Lauren Sickles, Gabe Perez, Rhomaro Powell, Denitresse Burns, and Radina Russell) in which they shared their experiences in business school and how it benefited their careers. The insights were well-received, so we decided to conduct a few more with a slightly different focus. This time around we were interested in hearing from MBAs that recently completed their first year.

For our first offering in this installment, Goreleigh Willis shares his experiences and insights.

Prior to pursuing his MBA at Cornell University’s Johnson School, Goreleigh was an Associate with the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan in New York City. For five years, he worked with families to manage their wealth, as a Banker Analyst, and more recently as a Trust Officer. Previously, he spent four years in management consulting within the firm. At Johnson, Goreleigh is a Vice President of the Old Ezra Finance Club. He is also the Vice President of Alumni Affairs for the Black Graduate Business Association and a Vice President of the Johnson Soccer Club. Goreleigh will be an investment banking Associate at Lazard this summer.

Goreleigh holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science with Honors distinction from Swarthmore College.

What was the most surprising aspect of your first year in an MBA Program?
The most surprising thing for me was the pace of Johnson. Many of the core courses are 8 weeks long, so there is no time to fall behind.  Even though I heard from the second year students beforehand, it was still a challenge to balance academic work with recruiting. Efficient time management is crucial!

GMAT and B-school Volume Up Big

GMAC recently released GMAT testing volume data for the 2012 testing year (July 1 2011 to June 30 2012) that shows significant increases in both the number GMAT tests taken and the number of score reports sent to graduate management schools. Some of the key figures:

  • The 2012 testing year saw more than 286,000 GMAT tests taken, up nearly 11 percent from 2011.
  • About 831,000 GMAT score reports, a historic number, were sent to almost 5,300 programs in 2012.
  • Testing numbers outside the U.S. continue to skyrocket, with the number of tests up 19 percent from 2011 and comprising 59% of all tests taken.
  • The percentage of tests taken by women has jumped to a new record as well, comprising nearly 43% of all tests taken.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Changes in MBA Application Essays

Today’s guest post is from Nicole Lindsay, who holds a JD/MBA from University of Virginia and is a former MBA admissions officer at Yale School of Management. Nicole Lindsay is the Founder of DiversityMBAPrep.com, an online community that supports women and minorities in applying to MBA programs.

 


 

Earlier this summer, a few MBA programs sent admissions insiders into a tizzy when they decided to revamp their application essay questions. Who knew that a move from four required essays to two could be so disruptive!

Business schools experiment with their applications every year and receive little notice from national media.  This year is different because the changes came from the “Big Three” (Harvard, Wharton, Stanford). Application shifts also came from Kellogg, UVA Darden, Columbia, MIT Sloan, and Iowa (which seems to experiment every year.  Last year the school got national publicity when one essay question sought a 140-word tweet response). Ultimately, all MBA programs are looking for better ways to get the most pertinent information with as few hurdles to applicants as possible.  Business schools want to receive more applications so a lot of thought goes into their application process. Many pundits speculated that this year’s application changes were an attempt to outsmart admissions consultants.  I disagree – the formula for gaining admission to business school is no different than in years past.

MBA applications are trending toward reduced essay requirements, either by requiring fewer essays or lowering maximum word count. These changes signal to me that schools are adapting their application components to more closely align with the real weight that each is given in the admissions decision. Transcripts and GMAT directly tie to a candidate’s academic readiness so they are given significant weight. In the same manner, the resume (work experience) and recommendations link to career and leadership potential, which are critical admissions elements. Over the years, essays have become a catch-all without a specific connection to the factors that drive the admissions decision. Going forward, expect that schools will use essays to (a) learn about your career goals (some will ask this in the application form as a short-answer question) and (b) assess your school fit (examples: questions around teamwork, ethics or exploring a statement or video).

Here’s how I suggest that you approach your MBA applications:

  1. Schools want you to submit strong applications so understand what each question is really asking you. On school and other websites, look for tips and suggestions from the Admissions Committee on the application components, particularly the essays. Feel free to get the opinions of others, but remember, they are simply speculating, while Admissions Committee members actually know.
  2. Take a holistic approach to the application –most of this year’s application changes have come in the essay component. Most schools are opting for shorter essays – this just means you need to get to the point faster. Essays are just one of several parts of an application; you must use every inch of the application to communicate your story. If you are afforded fewer words in a career goal essay to discuss your background, use your resume to highlight accomplishments that relate to your future aspirations.
  3. Don’t sweat new application changes – all applicants are required to complete the same application for admission, so don’t worry about what previous applicants had to do. Nothing has really changed in the admissions process – business schools admit candidates that are academically prepared, with tremendous career and leadership potential and are a fit for their MBA programs.

Good luck with your applications!

Score Select for GRE Starts Next Week

ETS informed the world in April 2012 that ScoreSelect was going to become available in July, and that option is just around the corner.

ScoreSelect allows test-takers greater flexibility in deciding what scores to send to schools. The move is part of ETS’ ongoing push for a more test-taker friendly platform, and will provide test-takers with the comfort and security of knowing that a non-representive score doesn’t ever have to make it to admissions offices at schools. This relief should allow more test-takers to go in feeling confident and put their best foot forward come test day.

The ScoreSelect option is available both on test day and afterwards. Here are the particulars for test-takers, straight from ETS:

Game Changer? Harvard Changing Admission Application

Beginning this fall the Harvard Business School application will reflect its most significant changes since 2003. Long a source of anxiety and many sleepless nights, the HBS application as recently as last year required applicants to submit four different essays that totaled up to 2000 words. Starting for the class of 2015, the number of essays will be halved, with the word limit capped at 400 per essay.

Not only will they be fewer in number and shorter in word requirements, the essays will also be more straightforward. The two essay prompts slated for this fall are

  • Tell us something you’ve done well.
  • Tell us something you wish you had done better.

The HBS application process will also involve another wrinkle. For those who succeed in making it past the first cut, and thereby required (or given the chance) to sit for an interview, an additional post-interview essay will be required. The wrinkle? Well, the essay will be due within 24 hours of the interview, and should address something the applicant wished she or he had said during the interview. This essay will also be capped at 400 words.

Don’t Be “That (flashcard) Guy”

Greetings and welcome to another installment of Akil on the GMAT. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and advice on how to study for the test. It seems more and more I encounter people who are studying wrong (oops I mean ‘incorrectly,’ since an adverb is needed to modify ‘studying’).

First, to understand how to study properly you have to understand the nature of the GMAT. The GMAT is an adaptive test that assesses quantitative and verbal REASONING. As such, the GMAT is not a test that you get a great score by simply memorizing facts, since a reasoning test requires logic supported by facts, rather than simple fact regurgitation.

Regurgitating facts will most likely only allow you to get a score in the low to mid 500s (in the best case scenario). If you are satisfied with a score in the 500s, you should just get a list of formulas and rules tested and memorize them. [My marketing department requires that I insert a shameless plug here for Bell Curves flashcards, which give you a succinct, comprehensive list of the rules and formulas tested on the GMAT - all in a nice, pretty package.]

If you want to have a realistic shot at the higher scores, you will need to memorize the facts necessary for success on the test and then, more importantly, develop your ability to use those facts in context.

Are you Flashcard Guy/Girl?

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