2012 Consortium MBA Application Strategies II Q&A with Travis McAllister
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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Consortium Application Strategies Q&A, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and hear about its program from the perspective of the participating schools. You need to know as much as you can to make a sound application decision and gain acceptance to the school of your choice. Being here today allows you to ask the Consortium experts and today’s school representatives about this outstanding program and their experiences in business school.
I also want to welcome our special guests for this evening, Travis McAllister – Consortium’s Recruiting Manager.
Also joining us are the following representatives from Consortium Schools:
- Linwood Harris, Associate Director at Carnegie Mellon University
- Jim Holmen, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Indiana University- Bloomington’s Kelley School
- Jon Fuller, Senior Associate Director at University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, the Ross School
- Robyn Winstanley, Associate Director of Recruitment at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business
I am going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first few questions. These questions have been emailed to us. First of all, can someone get a fellowship or financial aid from Consortium member schools if they are declined Consortium membership, or even the fellowship from the Consortium? Are other fellowships available?
Jim Holmen: When you apply for admission to the Consortium, you are being considered for admission independently by each school you apply to, in addition to being considered for membership in the Consortium by the Consortium, and then a fellowship if you are granted membership and admission to a Consortium school. You will be considered by each school that you are offered admission to for all the same financial aid that all of their applicants are considered for. So whether or not you are granted membership into the Consortium or a Consortium fellowship, if you are granted admission into any school, you will go through their regular financial aid selection process and be considered for any merit-based aid that the school offers.
Robyn Winstanley:I would just reinforce directly that we are very similar at the Simon School as to what Jim just mentioned at Indiana University. Consortium candidates are absolutely still considered for fellowships if they are not accepted into the Consortium program and do not receive a fellowship that way.
One specific program that we have here at the Simon School is an opportunity for students to come to campus and participate in what is called our "Scholarship Weekend Program". It is actually a case competition where students can compete against other students who may have been admitted directly to the Simon School to compete for fellowships directly through Simon. So there are plenty of opportunities even if that opportunity does not exist directly through the Consortium.
Linda Abraham: I would like to ask each of you school representatives what is new at your school. Is there some development you’d like to tell us about, specific to your program?
Linwood Harris: A lot of new things have been happening here at the Tepper School of Business. We actually have our ninth dean that came on board as one of our faculty members. Dean Dammon has been a wonderful addition as the dean and we are all excited. We’ve been doing some new things with our curriculum, and we’re refining all that we have developed over the years since the school has come into its existence in the early fifties. So it’s an exciting time at the school and a lot of great things are taking place.
Of course all of our Consortium students annually accept strong leadership roles in many of the clubs and organizations. So we are excited about the movement and tempo of our student body and the things that they have actually been able to contribute.
We just received a considerable endowment at Carnegie Mellon from one of our alumni who just gave us a $265 million endowment to support our programming throughout the university. So it’s an exciting time at Tepper and a lot of great things are changing, and we are looking forward in the future to a lot of new things.
Robyn Winstanley: There are a few exciting things happening, specific to this year at the Simon School. We are still moving forward in keeping the smaller community style approach here at Simon. But there are two key factors related to curriculum and refining that process.
In terms of the core sequencing of our MBA program for first year students, we have broken that out into two separate core sequencings. So there is more of a finance and accounting focus, and then separately, we have a general management focus for students, not related to studying areas related to finance. And the reason that we broke this sequence into two different sections is so that students can focus more on finding their internship opportunities a little bit earlier on within their first year at the program. So a finance or accounting focused student within the MBA program, for example, can take additional elective coursework a little bit earlier on in their MBA program than they traditionally have been able to do in the past. Integrating those options for students is definitely something that has proven to be successful so far, but it’s the first year that we are implementing the change within the sequencing of our programs. So that is one key thing.
And for the next coming academic year, we are actually going to be moving our academic calendar up earlier in the year to be starting the first week in August. So this is another opportunity for our students to have a little bit more time on campus and to be working with our Career Management Center to help them secure their internship between the first and second year of the MBA program. So it’s very different than what we’ve been doing in the past. Traditionally, the academic calendar started a month and a half later than that. This initiative has come about through current students voicing that to the dean and other faculty members within the Simon School, and we’ve gone back and readjusted that appropriately to provide additional assistance for our students. So those are the two most important things to mention at this point in time. We are certainly looking forward to lots of great success in the coming year.
Jim Holmen: At the Kelley School at Indiana University, we have a few new things on the horizon. One, we’ve just launched a brand new major or minor in Business Analytics which is going to be providing students with the opportunity to really learn how to use data – statistical and quantitative analysis, predictive modeling, and fact-based management – to drive decision making. It’s a nice stand-alone major or it’s a nice complement as a minor to any of our other majors.
We’ve been doing a lot in increasing the global opportunities within our program. And one of the newest programs that was launched a couple of years ago but continues to grow is our GLOBASE program – Global Business and Social Enterprise – where we have students who spend a course working with struggling organizations or small businesses in developing countries. They work remotely with the businesses and organizations throughout the course, and at the conclusion, the class travels together for two weeks to the country that they have been working with, and then they work side by side, essentially working as small business consultants. So we have three GLOBASE courses offered this spring coming up. One focused on India, another in Ghana, and another in Guatemala. And in each course, they are working in teams with small businesses and organizations to make a difference and to make an impact, taking what they are learning and helping areas and organizations that definitely need support.
And the last thing I want to mention are new programs designed by our Career Services team to get people off to a great start with their career search. They developed a program called "Me, Inc." They actually start working with our students in the summer months, before they arrive on campus, providing them through webinars, online assessments and homework opportunities, to learn where they are, what their strengths are, and their limitations. When they arrive for orientation, about half of our two week-long orientation is devoted towards activities coordinated under the umbrella of "Me, Inc.", all about building your personal brand and learning how to network, and developing your elevator pitch. So once classes start, you are already in a great place to jumpstart your career search. So the Business Analytics major, the GLOBASE program and "Me, Inc." are three of the most exciting developments at the Kelley School.
Linda Abraham: I also want to announce that just this week a colleague and I published our first book on MBA admissions. And I’m going to ask a question at the end of the Q&A here today based on what is being said, and the first person to post the right answer will get a free copy of this brand new MBA admissions book called "MBA Admission for Smarties".
Now let’s go to your questions. Eskedar asks, "What percentage of applicants is awarded a fellowship?"
Travis McAllister: I will give you the numbers from last year. We had 1,000 submitted applications, and out of that number we had 534 who were all admitted to at least one of the schools on their application. And out of that number, the Consortium offered 335 fellowships. The actual entering Consortium class was a little bit larger than that and that is due to various factors. Not everyone who was offered a fellowship accepted the fellowship; some deferred, some deferred and stayed home one year, some went to other schools. But we offered 335 fellowships, so you are still looking at a 33% rate of fellowship offers.
Linda Abraham: Paula asks, "What if I wish to apply to a dual MPP/MBA program?" I guess the question really is: 1) Is she allowed to apply for the Consortium fellowship while also applying to a dual degree program? 2) Would the Consortium fellowship cover the cost of both programs?
Travis McAllister: Yes, you are welcome to apply to dual degree programs. I ask that you check with each school because different schools offer different things. And in our application, many schools actually ask that question: "Are you applying to a dual degree program?"
If you are offered the fellowship, the fellowship will only cover your MBA classes, so you will need to find another source of funding for the other study that you decide to take.
Linda Abraham: Christopher asks, "How do admissions officers evaluate an application that comes through the Consortium program versus an application that comes directly from an applicant? I personally feel that I am on the fence between whether or not I am qualified for the Consortium, but I feel that I am very "well qualified" as a regular applicant. Do you have advice on whether I should apply directly or through the Consortium?"
Jon Fuller: I think that the general philosophy that the Consortium schools have is that being part of the group, we are all accepting the general nature of the common application, in that there are some things that are more general as relative to what the standard application is. But as part of our agreement of wanting to help fulfill the mission, we want to make sure that we make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply to the seventeen schools. With that, I think the thing you need to worry about first is admission to the schools.
So the order of operations in terms of how things work – at least in terms of the application process, the membership process, and the fellowships process – is that really you have to be admitted to one of the Consortium schools first. And whether you are applying through the Consortium or you are applying through the school’s standard application opportunity, the admission criteria are essentially going to be the same. After you’ve been admitted, that is when the membership aspect comes up and we can speak of – "Is the experience that I’ve had or the things that I’m involved with a good fit to the Consortium’s mission or not?" Then that mission assessment is made by the Consortium, and the schools are then told who has been approved for membership. And then for the people that we’ve admitted, we’re able then to make a fellowship determination.
If you have a question about your specific eligibility or whether your experience is a good fit, it’s a pretty unique question, something that is unique to your own situation. I know that the Consortium is great about getting back to people about their own particular experiences and whether they are a good fit or not, and ultimately that will have to be a decision that you, the candidate, makes. But I’d reach out to the Consortium directly and ask them.
But from the standpoint of the schools, if you are admissible, the odds are that you are going to be admitted, regardless as to whether or not you are a borderline case or a strong case for the Consortium.
Jim Holmen: I think the most important thing to note is that the Consortium is simply facilitating the collection of application data and it is passed onto the schools. And once each school receives your Consortium application, it goes through their selection and admission process in the very same way it would if you would have applied directly through the school. You go through the same criteria. And so the admission decision, whether you apply directly or through the Consortium, will be the exact same. There is no difference. The only thing you are doing by not applying through the Consortium is you are limiting your consideration for membership into the Consortium and all the benefits that come with membership. And you are eliminating yourself from consideration for a full-tuition fellowship. So from the perspective of admission, it makes no difference which way you apply; the decision would be the same.
Travis McAllister: I want everybody to know also that even if you didn’t get admission to the schools even though you applied through the Consortium process, it’s a great opportunity to have, to get to actually select and send your information to the schools that you really feel may meet your needs. And also once you get to the school, there are activities that Consortium students have, involved in the school. I’m sure that in many of the schools, students are welcome to still be a part of the mission that the Consortium provides and the activities that they’ll do on campus. So just because you may not receive membership, that doesn’t mean you can’t be connected to the endeavor.
Linda Abraham: I’m getting the sense that there is only an upside to applying through the Consortium.
Travis McAllister: That’s right!
Linda Abraham: Maria says that she tried to call the Consortium recently and none of the phone numbers on the contact page work. Travis, is there a new phone number?
Travis McAllister: It could have been the rare case that none of us were available at that time or we stepped away from the office. Make sure you are calling between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM Central Time, but our general phone number is still the same. 314-877-5500.
Linda Abraham: And the second question that Maria asks is, "What is the most valuable aspect of being a member of the Consortium?"
Robyn Winstanley: We find lots of great benefits and values in being a member of the Consortium. One of the most beneficial aspects is that it does allow you the opportunity to create a whole additional funnel of corporate sponsors and relationships that you can develop for your future career goals. So within each business school that you ultimately choose to attend, of course you can work through the Career Management Center and then networking opportunities available through the alums of that particular business schools, but being part of the Consortium will also provide you an additional set of organizations that can be very useful to you, depending on what your future career goals are. So developing those personal relationships can be absolutely critical to your success because the ultimate goal of each student is obviously to gain full-time employment after you’ve completed your MBA program. So using that as another benefit is definitely something that I would rank towards the top in terms of the benefits that the Consortium can provide for you.
Obviously another large benefit is financially. We certainly encourage all students who believe that they can fulfill the values and mission of the Consortium absolutely to apply, as we’ve already mentioned the ability to receive a full-tuition fellowship. That is absolutely something that is of significant value to many students. So a combination of both networking opportunities and the financial advantages are the two key things that I personally would highlight.
Jim Holmen: Robyn mentioned the networking with the corporations. And you should also remember that the Consortium has been around nearly 45 years. So when you join any Consortium member school, you become a member of their family of alums, but you are also part of the family of the Consortium alumni from all the member schools, and that significantly increases the pool of candidates that will be a part of your network of friends and colleagues.
Linwood Harris: I wanted to add the fabulous experience that students will actually gain by attending the Orientation program. It is scheduled this year to be in Minneapolis, amongst many groupings of companies that sponsor and support endeavors with the Consortium. You will get an opportunity to set your future career path on fire. And it’s a great way to connect with 300-400 students who are actually in the same shoes as you are, coming into this incoming class. But it’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved in this orientation program. Many of the students who actually come to campus in the fall, by attending that orientation program, they’ve already received some interviews and some great offers for internship before they even step foot into any class because of their relationship of being involved in the Consortium.
Travis McAllister: I’ll throw in the numbers that Linwood was talking about and I’ll go over what Jim had mentioned. Clearly we already know the Consortium has 17 top business schools. So you are looking at over 600 current students are in the Consortium right now. So that’s over 300 for each year. We have over 6,000 alumni, and that is in the US and abroad, and they are working all over the place, but also at our 80 corporate partners. So when you are thinking about the possibility of being a Consortium member and coming to that orientation program that Linwood just mentioned, here is your opportunity to meet with 80 top corporate partners. They are listed on our website, and you will get to see many of them at our orientation program.
Linda Abraham: Ade asks, "I plan on taking the GMAT on January 3rd. Is that too late?" And Malisha asks, "If I’m taking the GMAT a few days after the Consortium deadline for the second time, should I send those results directly to the schools or to the Consortium?"
Travis McAllister: On our website we have, what I call, strongly recommended date points. And the date point to have taken the GMAT or the GRE is December 20th. Taking it by that time gives enough time for process. We know that there is a major holiday coming and we will be closed, so this allows time for process so that when January 5th comes around, and at the Consortium we start getting those submitted applications, everything will be complete and we can send it straight to the schools. Because that is what happens. Once we make sure it is complete, we forward it to the schools that you indicated you are applying to. So if you are taking it anything after that day, you’re going to be okay, but we need to get that score, and we are going to hold your application until we receive that missing test score. And in many cases, you will be getting emails from us saying that we are missing your test score. January 3rd should be fine. Of course we may not receive that score by January 5th, which means that we are holding your application. So the sooner you can get those tests taken, the sooner we can get the scores, the sooner we can get your application to the schools so that they can start reviewing it.
Linda Abraham: William asks, "What kind of impact do students that were accepted into the Consortium membership have at their respective schools? What are some of the activities that the students are involved in that reflect the Consortium’s mission statements?"
Jim Holmen: I suspect it varies by school, but I know that our Consortium students get involved sometimes with the undergraduate program, providing tutoring and support to underrepresented minorities in our undergraduate program. They get involved in activities within the community, and they often do quite a bit to support each other as they move through the program. The MBA program is rigorous and demanding, and I think that they feel that they are going through the program with family which can be very helpful. Those are some of the things that happen at Kelley.
Linwood Harris: Not to reiterate anything that Jim said, but I think those same things happen at our school as well as others. But one thing I see is that because of the orientation program, Consortium students are so far ahead of the game on the career end, and because they’ve been prepping over the entire summer to get themselves ready for school as well as career, they sometimes step into leadership roles because they are so far ahead of others. And they start to help put workshops together and join clubs and organizations and take on leadership roles at every school.
But I think one of the great things about the Consortium students is that they have been able to also contribute to the community by helping and doing tutoring and bringing awareness about business, and they help demonstrate opportunities for students that may not have perspective on where they can go in the future. So they are actually living proof that it is possible. So it is great that our students can act with the local community and do quite a bit of things that actually show full demonstration of their commitment to the Consortium’s mission.
Robyn Winstanley: Our aspect is very similar to both what Linwood and Jim mentioned.
Linda Abraham: Amma asks, "In terms of submitting a strong application, what advice can you offer an applicant who is very passionate about beginning his/her management studies but might not have an exact career path set in stone?" I think this is something that bedevils many applicants.
Jon Fuller: I think there is a lot of information out there, and our essay questions kind of beg you to be very clear about what your aspirations are, what your goals are, during your MBA experience and also after your MBA experience. However, we’ve been doing this long enough that we are fully aware that those opinions can change, those interests can change. And that is perfectly reasonable because you are going to have a lot of experiences and be exposed to a lot of topics and a lot of individuals that are going to broaden your minds and broaden your insights onto a whole different world. So for us to not understand that that can happen doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I think from an admissions committee perspective, what we want at least to know is that you have a relatively clear idea though, as opposed to just taking a shotgun approach and saying, "I think I want to do investment banking, and I think CPG sounds also really interesting. Then I might want to do consulting too, and I also want to start at non-profit." We just sort of sit there and think that this just doesn’t sound very realistic. The MBA is only a two-year program. You have to hit the ground running very quickly, both academically and on the professional recruiting route. And if you are going to optimize your opportunities for success both in your program and in your career aims, we really want our students to have a relatively clear vision as to what they want to do. It’s not a binding contract, but as you articulate what your ambitions are, we at least like to have the confidence that you’ve put some concerted thought and effort into figuring out what it is that you want to do. And then you can relatively clearly articulate that within in your application, both in your essays and also in your interview. So it’s something to worry about, but if you don’t have necessarily a lazar focus on what it is that you want to do, we understand that at well.
Robyn Winstanley: Just one thing that I would like to reiterate based on what Jon mentioned is that we completely agree with everything that he said. I can think of first-year MBA students that began our program a few months ago, and in speaking with them I could see that there were definitely some individuals that I communicated with that were a little bit unsure of what their career path was. They weren’t 100% positive of the pathway that they wanted to follow, but they had some sort of general sense as to what that pathway might be.
It is important to develop more concise career goals pretty early on in the program because one of the aspects that you will be doing within the first few weeks and months is developing your personal resume to make sure it is catered to looking for very specified internship opportunities. At most business schools, the internship search process starts pretty early on into the first year of the program. So having a stronger background and understanding what perhaps the industry sector might be that you would like to work in for your internship opportunity, which can hopefully lead to full-time employment for you, can be a consideration that would need to be narrowed down a little bit earlier on in the process.
Linda Abraham: I just want to add my two cents. You certainly hear about how the recruiting process starts the day you arrive; now we are hearing that it starts before you arrive. And the truth, in my opinion, is that it should start before you apply. You don’t have to know what office you want to sit in, but I really think it is important, in order for you to get the most out of the degree, for you to have some direction in terms of what industry you want to work in and what function you want to perform. Because otherwise you don’t even know if you really need an MBA! From my perspective, having worked with thousands of applicants and seeing some people who knew what they were doing and some people who didn’t, I really think it is important that you do have some idea. It doesn’t need to be carved in stone, and it certainly can evolve and change, but really not knowing what you want to do is a recipe for making a mistake – a very expensive and time consuming mistake. So that is my two cents. I’m not a Consortium representative, but it’s something that anybody who has read anything I’ve written would know. I feel very strongly that goals should guide your decisions in the MBA application process.
Ritika asks, "What are the typical criteria for fellowships, knowing that they may range from school to school?" And Travis, you also wanted to add something regarding last question about retaking the GMAT or the GRE – whether the scores should be sent to the Consortium.
Travis McAllister: Yes, I didn’t answer that last question. If you are retaking the GMAT or the GRE, and you’ve already submitted your application, please have those scores sent to the Consortium. We will forward the scores to the school; you don’t have to do that.
Linda Abraham: And now Ritika asks what the criteria are for fellowships.
Travis McAllister: I will have to defer to the schools on this because it is merit-based, and it is based on the school that is going to offer you the fellowship.
Jim Holmen: I think it is important to note that the fellowships decisions are made by the individual schools. The Consortium staff itself is not involved in the fellowship selection process. So in many cases, each school is looking at some of the strongest candidates. Some of those, they have offered admission to through the Consortium – those candidates who demonstrate academic excellence, great promise, a good track record of accomplishment and impact in the community or in their work. As long as each applicant puts their best self forward – as long as you put together a strong case for you admission and help us understand what you’ve accomplished in your work, in your activities, and you demonstrate academic strength through a solid academic record and a good GMAT score or a good GRE score, for those schools that accept the GRE – those are the kinds of strengths that lead to fellowship offers.
But again, even within a single school, the qualities that will provide one candidate with a fellowship offer may be very different from the qualities that will lead another candidate to be offered a fellowship. There is far more art than science in these selection processes.
Linwood Harris: I think Jim said exactly what happens at most schools. There might be some requirements that other schools may request in the process, but I think he was very clear.
Linda Abraham: Jourdon asks, "One of my professional recommenders has asked and advised that she won’t be able to meet the January 5th deadline. Can she submit after this date?"
Travis McAllister: The short answer is yes, but there is a "but". And that "but" is that we can’t send off your application until we have that recommendation. So that is another part of it. In order to send your application off to the schools, we must have everything complete. That includes the two personal recommendations, the mission recommendation, the GMAT, your transcripts have to be uploaded and legible; those are the things that we are looking for. So if anything is missing, we are going to contact you and let you know that it’s missing, but we also let you know that we cannot send your application to the member schools you’ve selected until everything is complete.
Linda Abraham: Charlenne asks, "Is there any difference in applying during the first round or second round in terms of Consortium membership as well as admission to member schools?" The second part of Charlenne’s question is, "Are there any disadvantages to applying during the second round?"
Travis McAllister: From the Consortium’s end, we get the bulk of our applications in the second round. So there is no disadvantage to applying first round versus second round when it comes to that. When it comes to membership, membership is based on admission to the school. So if you were granted admission to the school, then we are considering you for Consortium membership. So membership service has no role in whether you are applying round one or round two.
Robyn Winstanley: Just as Travis mentioned, most of the institutions are receiving the bulk of Consortium applications in the second round, and in the specific case of the Simon School, there is no difference in applying between the first and second round in terms of admission criteria that we are considering. So from our end of things, there is not a disadvantage to applying in the second round, as it is typical for us to receive the majority of the applications during that January 5th deadline. So it would be right in alignment with a majority of the other Consortium candidates, as well as non-Consortium candidates. Typically, the January 5th deadline is one of the larger deadlines that we have, in terms of the number of applications we are receiving. So on our end, there is no disadvantage and no difference between the first and second round. I don’t know if it’s different for any of my other colleagues, but that’s how it is specific to Simon.
Linwood Harris: I agree with what Robyn has said. But there are some students who have been waiting years to apply and they just have to get that application in early, on the first round. They’ve just been waiting to get it in. They want to know their admission decision. But the thing you’ve got to realize is that initially you may receive an admission decision. You might even receive some scholarship offer from the school, if you are eligible in the process to receive that.
But all membership and fellowship decisions aren’t made until the February-March timeframe. So even if you do have a decision before the holidays, you will have to wait to get your membership and fellowship decision, regardless. Every school does operate a little bit differently with that. I do encourage you to speak to someone at the schools to which you’ve applied, to see their particular way that they actually deal with that kind of thing. But you’ll know that at Carnegie Mellon, you may receive a decision but you will not get membership or a fellowship offer until everybody does. That is the only thing I wanted to add.
Jim Holmen: I think with the Consortium the first and second rounds are so close together, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference. But in general when you think about application deadlines, you want to meet the application deadline where you believe that your application is at its strongest. If the additional time to meet a second deadline means that you can get a better GMAT score or your essays are stronger, you are going to be a stronger candidate than if you rush to meet an earlier deadline when you don’t believe that your application is at its best.
Linda Abraham: Pranjal asks, "How does the Consortium support entrepreneurs or students interests in pursuing new ventures?"
Travis McAllister: I’m going to defer to the schools because if you can get an MBA, we encourage you to apply. We don’t really screen from that point further and when it comes to the application. So I think the schools can speak better onto the more particular areas of getting your MBA.
Robyn Winstanley: This is actually a great topic for the Simon School because we do have the entrepreneurship concentration as well as the Simon Entrepreneurs Association which is more of an academic-based club that we have here on campus. Innovation related to academic development is absolutely a key aspect. And something that was recently started through the University of Rochester was a business incubator, allowing students with more of the entrepreneurial spirit to be engaged with members of the Rochester, New York community to develop and present various entrepreneurial ideas, to hopefully gain some sort of venture capital funding. So that is absolutely an aspect that is growing and has started within this past year that is specific to the Simon School that a lot of students are taking advantage of, regardless of their area of focus within the MBA program. So I think it is very common that we have students doing the MBA program who perhaps are pursuing, let’s say, a finance background but they also have the entrepreneurial edge to them. Any student can be involved in this particular program.
Linwood Harris: Entrepreneurship has been a key part of the Tepper School of Business since 1972. So there has been a long tradition of programs and companies started by peers for quite a long time. And we have a wonderful Donald Jones Entrepreneurial Center that is headed by one of our professors, Dr. Art Boni. He is actually a venture capitalist in the biotechnology space. And we have a considerable amount of alumni that actually do a lot of support onto the program there at the Jones Center. Plus, there are several ventures that exist throughout Carnegie Mellon. Project Olympus is a great program that utilizes the many different technology innovative areas in the school. So whether it’s computer science or engineering or graphics or our Product Development Center, there are a number of different opportunities that the students have in terms of actually finding and creating new ventures.
You will also find it is pervasive in our classroom, and all of our coursework is entrepreneurial, in fact, because ownership of your decisions and your programming, and the division you may run, is a part of all the thinking that happens at the Tepper school.
There is another thing that I always encourage students. There are different ways that you can get involved in entrepreneurship, and we have international case competitions for entrepreneurs, so there is just a wealth of information out there for you to actually research and connect with our students. I encourage you to go to our web links, and there is a whole section on "Contact a Student". You can just put in "entrepreneurship", and a whole list of students will come up, and they’ll get back to you and share some of the experiences that they are having.
Jon Fuller: A lot of the entrepreneurial activities that happen at the Ross School come under the umbrella of the Zell and Laurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. There are a lot of activities that students can take advantage of through ZLI, as we refer to it. First of all, of course there are the academic electives that students can take. We offer over twenty entrepreneurial electives each year for students to take advantage of. There is the MAP project, the Multi-disciplinary Action Project that all of our MBA students do, and it’s really the cornerstone of our action based experiential learning curriculum. There are entrepreneurial MAP projects that students can elect to participate in, where you are actually working with a start-up type company in developing a strategy or any number of other things for that organization.
There are a number of further initiatives that students can get involved directly in, either raising capital or directing capital as well. The Wolverine Venture Fund has over $3 million under advisement, under investment right now. And a student team of MBA students actually does the selection of companies and organizations, and chooses how to direct those funds. There is the Dare to Dream Grant program. Our philosophy is – why should you wait till after you graduate to try to start that company? Why don’t you do it while you are still a student in a learning environment, in a relatively safe environment, where it’s okay to try to new things and it’s okay to fail and dust yourself off and try all over again? And the Dare to Dream Grant program provides up to $10,000 to MBA students to explore and advance their business ideas through various development stages. We have case competitions. We have the Marcel Gani Internship program. Students, in the summer between their first and second year, can get placement at a US start-up venture capital firm, through which you can get some really amazing experience. Venture capital and those kinds of areas are really challenging for student to get into right after graduation. So to get your foot in the door through this internship program is a really amazing opportunity for students.
And then the last thing I’ll mention is the Entrepreneurs and Venture Club, which is a rather large student organization. They also work with ZLI to put on an annual conference club, which usually has at least over 400 participants from the University of Michigan community and the broader regional community as well. So entrepreneurship is one of the key elements to our program. It’s one of the key initiatives that our new dean is focusing on this year. We actually just started a master’s in entrepreneurship program that will be enrolling its first class next fall, to build on the strengths that we have in the entrepreneurial community, both at the Ross school and at the Michigan School of Engineering as well.
Jim Holmen: We have a strong entrepreneurship program as well through both a major and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation. And also we have the Entrepreneurial Management Academy which pulls together all of our students interested in some aspect of entrepreneurship, venture capital, and related areas.
We have a strong Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Kelley school, working in partnership with Indiana University’s new Venture Center. There’s the "Hoosier Hatchery", which is a business incubator specifically for students where they are able to get a lot of support in developing some of their ideas. So there is lots of opportunity for future entrepreneurs at Kelley.
Linda Abraham: We have a couple of questions from students who already applied to the schools and would like to apply to the Consortium. So Mila asks, "If you already submitted an application directly to the schools, can you still apply to the Consortium for the fellowship opportunity?" And the second question is from Maria who asks, "I’ve already been admitted to a member school. Is there an abbreviated application that solely assesses my qualification for Consortium membership?"
Travis McAllister: There is another application where the schools decide. So once you have applied individually outside of the Consortium, then the schools will evaluate your application and they will determine whether they feel you will be a good fit for the Consortium. Unfortunately, it’s out of the applicant’s hands now. They can’t go back and reapply unless they don’t get in this year or they want to apply for next year. But as far as applying and trying to do it this year, that is something that is up to the schools to do. So I guess they have to really hope that their application is strong enough that the schools will make a positive decision. The schools can come to the Consortium and say, "Hey, we want this person to be considered for Consortium membership."
Linda Abraham: This question typically comes up a lot. Travis, can you take a minute to discuss the mission aspect that is part of the Consortium application?
Travis McAllister: To be frank, after being with the first round of applications, I have a little bit more to say about the mission essay, so I hope everyone can bear with me and give me a couple of minutes. One of the questions we always get is – What is going on with the mission essay? Who sees it? What should I be including? Am I including the right information? So on our website, cgsm.org, we have a prospective student section, and I’m referring to two places. I’m referring to your application instructions where it discusses the mission essay, and I’m also referring to the membership guidelines, which goes into a list of things that you can talk about that will help paint a better picture of your commitment to the Consortium’s mission. So I’m actually going to pull up this so I can read verbatim what these documents say. The mission of the Consortium is "to enhance diversity in business education and leadership by helping to reduce the serious underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in both our member schools’ enrollments and the ranks of management."
So we are looking for what you have done pre-MBA in your business, academic, or personal life to demonstrate commitment to this mission. What will you do while enrolled in your MBA program to demonstrate commitment to the mission? And what will you do post-MBA with respect to community service, and leadership involvement? So we want you to answer these questions in your essay. I’ve seen some essays where the applicant is not answering the question. So we need you to focus on that question.
If you had to put weight on one part, I would say you want to talk about what you have done. Before you’ve applied for your MBA program, what have you done pre-MBA in your business, academic or personal life? We have a document on our website called "Membership Guidelines", and that will give you some ideas.
But here are some additional points. One important thing to know is that the Consortium staff that is reviewing these mission essays and your mission recommendation, in order to determine Consortium membership, does not see the other parts of your application. So if you are mentioning a group that we are not familiar with and you are not telling us what that group is and what you’ve done with that group, you have not done us any service. So what you have put in the rest of your application, the schools can see. The schools don’t see the mission essay. We don’t see what the schools are seeing as far as the application; we don’t review that. So be clear. Answer the question. If you are talking about City Year, we need you to tell us where you did City Year and your population. Many of the organizations you work with do have these missions that are very similar to the Consortium’s mission, but it also helps us if you say – I worked with the Boys and Girls club in St. Louis, and the population I worked with was 99% African American. We need you to tell us that so that we have a clearer picture.
I want to throw out some buzz words that we all use that are politically correct, but they are not painting the picture for us: ‘low risk’, ‘underrepresented’. And we have them in our mission, but we also tell you the groups that we are committed to in our mission. So if you are saying ‘underrepresented’, ‘minority’, ‘high risk’, ‘at-risk’, ‘low income’, in certain areas of our country, that can be anyone. Go to New York and that can be almost anyone. So we need you to be clear on whom you worked with and what you’ve done with them because that helps you in that essay.
And I also want to throw in really quickly, when you are looking for your person to write those recommendations, make sure they have the same question to answer that you have. They have to talk about your commitment to the mission; make sure they are answering that. General recommendation letters may not answer that question that we are asking on that form, so make sure that they have that form and are completing it.
If you have any other questions about the mission essay, I encourage you to give us a call. Call us, email us, and we can help you decide a little bit more the things that you can talk about in that essay. I want to make sure that you are given all due consideration. We don’t see everything that the schools see, so we need you to be clear.
Linda Abraham: I promised everyone that I’d give away a copy of our new book to the first person who can answer the following question. Who decides whether fellowships are awarded – the individual schools or the Consortium? Eskedar, you got it! Most of you got the right answer, but Eskedar was the fastest on the keyboard there.
Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Travis, Linwood, Jon, Robyn, and Jim for joining us today. If you have additional questions for the Consortium team, please email them to recruiting@CGSM.org.
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