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2013 Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Q&A with Christine Sneva, Ann Richards and Eddie Asbie

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Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)

Linda Abraham: My name is Linda Abraham. I am the Founder of Accepted.com, and the moderator of today's event. First, I want to welcome all of you to our Cornell Johnson chat, and I want to congratulate you, the applicants among you, for taking the time to learn more about Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management.

As you all know, if you've been here before, I consider it absolutely critical and mandatory, both to your application chances and just to your decision process that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. And being here today allows you to ask the experts about Cornell Johnson's top business program.

I also want to give a special welcome to our panelists,

Thanks to everyone for joining us. This is your chance to ask questions about Cornell Johnson. However, I'm going to take advantage of my position and moderator and ask the first question, and that's for Christine, Ann, and Eddie. What's new at Johnson?

Christine Sneva: I'm going to tackle that first and let my colleagues, Ann and Eddie, add anything that I may have missed. There are a lot of things going on at Cornell, and certainly at Johnson as well. A lot of people know that we are still welcoming our new dean, Dean Soumitra Dutta, who is a very, very busy man. He is not only traveling the world, but also opening up his home here in Ithaca with his wife, Lourdes Casanova, to faculty, staff, and to our current students, getting to know us at Johnson, what we do, and also celebrating all of the great work that we have been doing, and also setting a vision for Johnson moving forward.

We also are doing a lot of strategy and brainstorming around Cornell New York City Tech. Also, what that means for Johnson, specifically in New York City, is not only with the Tech campus, but also our presence within New York and increasing that. So those are some really exciting conversations going around.

Just recently, we've hosted the President and CEO of Grupo, which is one of the largest banks in Colombia, Luis Carlos Sarmiento, who is also an alum. In two weeks, we have the Mayor of Athens coming on campus to talk about the EU funding crisis. We have some C-suite executives that have come in and also some Director of Sustainable Programs at NRG Energy. So there's a lot of talks happening. There's a lot of discussion. We also have a lot of corporate recruiters coming to campus that are represented by Cornell, as well as Johnson alums. So there's a lot of activity. There's a lot of buzz this time of year. It's what we love to see, and it makes it really exciting when we have prospective students coming onto campus and visiting and getting in on some of that excitement as well.

Ann Richards: There is a lot going on on-campus right now both for our currently enrolled students and prospective students.

Linda Abraham: Okay. You just kind of alluded to my next question. In terms of round one applicants, I think most of them have [applied as] round one is closed at Cornell Johnson, so what can round one applicants expect?

Based on an audience poll, 50% of the people here are planning to apply round two, and I guess the others are just either considering round three or a later application. So what's going on with round one, and what will be the process when round two rolls around?

Ann Richards: Round one just started. I think the deadline was the 17th. This year we have moved to a completely online reading process, so we've all already gotten folders to start reading. I would imagine that probably early next week the first interview invitations will go out, and it will take us–we received a huge number of applications in round one. I think it may be a record, and Christine, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but if it's not a record, it's close to a record.

Christine Sneva: It was very, very close to a record number in round one, which makes us up 16% right now in round one. So we're really excited about that, but with the round one applicants, like Ann mentioned, we'll get a few invites out for the interviews next week.

We are getting to the reading portion of this a little slower than what we had wanted to do because of the implementation of reading online. So we're looking forward to that sort of picking up and getting to our process in terms of the timing, and then where we expect to be at certain times of the year, so that candidates are hearing from us as soon as possible about what's going on with their application.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. So you're up 16% for round one. That's fantastic. Congratulations. That was on top of the 20% overall last year, so you guys are doing just great.

Ann Richards: We'll continue to read files throughout the application round date, so people shouldn't panic if they don't get an interview invitation next week, because it will take us several more weeks before we are able to review all of the files in that round.

Linda Abraham: Should applicants read anything into the timing of an interview invitation?

Ann Richards: No. It's really pretty much random. But certainly, if they're invited for an interview, that's a good thing.

Linda Abraham: Absolutely. Okay. Igor, who asks, "Hi team, thanks for being here. Tough question: What do you consider a competitive GMAT score?"

Eddie Asbie: Yes, I will. First of all, I just want to say thank you to everyone who is listening to us right now. The one thing that I would say, just regarding the GMAT, is to make sure that you're realistic about the school that you're applying to, but with the GMAT itself, we like to see students in about the high 600s, 700 range. Our median on the GMAT is going to be a 700.

The composite score, of course, is going to be important to us, but then, also the quantitative section. If you think about the business school process itself, there are a lot of quantitative courses that you're going to take, especially in that first year. So with that GMAT, we do want to see, once again, that composite score, try to be in that 65th percentile when it comes to the quantitative section itself. But then, once again, ultimately, make sure that you do your research to make sure that you're in the range of the GMATs and all the other requirements when it comes to the application process itself.

Linda Abraham: Great. Christine or Ann, do you have anything to add?

Christine Sneva: I think Eddie covered, just in terms of what we see and what we look for, very well. I would just add that I think if you're looking at, or questioning, "Where should I apply based on GMAT score ranges;" that may not be the best metric to use. I think that you have to come at the standardized test score as, this is something that I have in my control to do right now, in terms of study time and preparation, and knowing when it's right to take that exam, and then moving forward with strengthening your application through your essays, through your resume, being thoughtful about how you're connecting with the school that you really want to see and experience, so that does come through in an application.

When you try to do all of it at once, in addition to working and life and other priorities, something's going to have to give. And so you want to make sure that you take the time to prepare for the GMAT exam, know what that is for you, so that when it is time to start putting that application together and submitting, you know you did everything you could to make sure that that application was as strong as it can be.

Ann Richards: And then, I just want to remind people that we take the GRE as well as the GMAT.

Linda Abraham: That was the other thing I was going to ask. Okay, great. I want to ask the applicants here today: Are most of you happy, or satisfied, or unhappy with your GMAT score? 58% have taken it and are happy with their score. That's pretty good. 25% took it and are unhappy, and are planning to retake. And 17% are studying now for the first administration. The Johnson School takes the highest score, is that correct?

Christine Sneva: Yes, it does.

Linda Abraham: All right, so that should give those of you retaking cause for hope. All right, let's look at another question here from Kunal. "What is the criteria for granting scholarships?"

Ann Richards: Our scholarships are awarded based on merit, and we use scholarship money to help bring the strongest candidates to the class, and that includes not just the GMAT score and your academic records, but really the achievements and accomplishments that you've had professionally, the experiences that you have had personally. Perhaps you may have lived in three or four different countries, and that cultural experience really adds some tremendous depth to the class, and will really help us add value to the class, help us enroll a very robust class.

In terms of your application, as you're thinking about, "How can I position myself to be a strong candidate for scholarship?" Certainly, you want to have the strongest test score that you can. There's nothing that you can do about your academic background, but certainly, if there's an area that you think is weak, or is not reflected well, you may want to be proactive and take some steps to strengthen that. If you don't have any quantitative coursework in your background, you may want to take a statistics course, or an accounting course, or a finance course. And there are so many options online now, so many really strong options online, that there is no excuse for not doing that in advance.

Also, in your application, it's not the time to be shy about your accomplishments and achievements. Take some time as you're creating your essays, as you're thinking about crafting your resume, to make sure that you highlight your achievements, your accomplishments, your initiatives, your ideas, projects that you have helped to move forward successfully. Those are the elements that we look for in selecting scholarship candidates.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Excellent answer. Okay. Kunal asks, "My university used the marks only from the last year to award the Bachelor's Degree. Which score do you consider in application, the one my university used or the average of all the years?"

Christine Sneva: Kunal, let us know if we're not on target with what exactly you need to hear from us. I'm guessing that this, because he said marks, that it's something to with the undergraduate transcripts and the GPA.

And so, one thing that is, what we do is obviously, we look at the final converted GPA of the institution that you graduated from. I think WES, the World Education Services, does a fantastic job in helping to translate transcripts, especially from multiple institutions, and [they] do this with good accuracy.

So if you feel that a converted GPA isn't truly reflective of what the institution has given you, I would recommend using those services. We do have experience looking at transcripts from all over the world, and we look at those very carefully. We look at the conversion rates, how the institution interprets an A, B, C, and so on, and we look at the entire transcript. We do look for upward trends in your grading, in your performance --, the classes that you took.

There are a lot of elements to the transcript that go into what does that GPA number actually mean for you that we are looking at as we're reading applications. Which, that's why it takes us some time to get through those, because we don't want to miss anything about how your undergraduate experience shaped you, what that means for you moving forward. So hopefully that covers a little bit of the question, and I added a little bit more there and kind of went off a little bit about GPA specifically.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Danielle asks, "What type of opportunities are available regarding a customized immersion in technology management?"

Christine Sneva: I think one of the reasons is that our customized immersion is somewhat under construction, in the fact that there are a lot of different types of candidates or star students that take the customized immersion for various reasons. It could be trying to do a dual degree. There's other courses offered outside of Johnson that people want to take an opportunity to take in their second semester. So the kind of student that is taking the customized immersion sort of varies.

So I'm just going to take one step back here to say that we have six immersions that student can focus on that highlights live cases, companies looking for our students to work on a problem, come up with some solutions, and present that to the company. And that is predominantly what the practicum is referring to within each immersion. There's a faculty director with that. Our Career Management Center's associates are very connected to what's happening within the immersions. Really unique, fun projects.

If you haven't seen us on the road yet, we are all carrying our business cards with our QR code. That takes you to an interactive explanation of the immersion programs, the cases that our students are taking on, other ways that our students are learning, inside and outside the classroom. So it doesn't just take you to our website, and I think it does a really great job in defining each specific immersion. And within each immersion, there's a student blogger talking about what's going on within the immersion there. In regard to customizing, and I think the question customizing technology management. We have some courses that are geared towards, specifically, within technology. You can take those here. You can also take those across the street in Engineering, which I think, you probably would get even more breadth in terms of courses.

It's a pretty broad question, but I will say that 25% of your coursework can be taken outside of Johnson. That's where either customizing or taking on immersion and taking courses outside of Johnson in your second year are really going to be helpful to you in terms of flexibility and autonomy, and choosing the kind of courses that are going to be relevant to you and your career.

And so, if customizing is something that looks attractive, you're not held to any, “you have to take these courses in your entire year” kind of lockstep, and then maybe looking further into our curriculum is something that you may want to do. And also, I would encourage you to look at the other graduate schools on campus, and the course offerings that they also have that you can take advantage of.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay, we have another question from Igor for Ann, "Do loans for international students cover living costs and other necessary expenses, or is it tuition only?"

Ann Richards: Our international student loan program will cover tuition only. We allow students to borrow up to the cost of tuition because we're financially liable for that. We're the guarantor of that loan. Now, there are some other private loan programs, and it may vary by country of citizenship, but there are some other private loan programs that will allow students to borrow beyond the cost of tuition, but we're not the guarantor of those loans. So that's fine, if students want to borrow those as well. We're not in a financial position to be able to guarantee the full cost of attendance.

Linda Abraham: Melov has two questions. "How does Cornell assist students during internships, and do the participating organizations pay for expenses?"

Ann Richards: I think the question is how does Cornell assist students in finding internship opportunities, and our Career Management Center does a really good job at preparing students for the next step in their career, both in terms of finding and preparing for an internship, as well as a permanent job opportunity. But, you will start, actually, before you ever arrive in Ithaca, in doing personal assessments and resume writing workshops. And then during orientation, it really ramps up where you'll be doing more in-depth assessments, in terms of what is it that you're good at, what do you like to do, what may be some careers that would be good fits for you. And then additional practice interviews, mock interviews, there are company presentations, so that when internship recruiting begins in January, you are really prepared for that. You know what firms you want to target; you know the types of careers you want to go after. We do bring companies to campus to do on-campus recruiting for internships. There is a huge, wide range of companies that come and do on-campus recruiting.

But in addition to on-campus recruiting, we also encourage students to do an independent career search. That's to seek out smaller companies, more niche companies or organizations that may have opportunities for you, companies that pose correspondence opportunities or just write to us with their job openings, so that you'll have a variety of options in terms of your summer internship. A huge number of our students, like 97% of our students, 99% of our students, do participate in summer internships. The majority of those internships are paid internships. Occasionally, and we notice this most recently when the economy was really in the doldrums, but occasionally, students will take unpaid internships. I think last year there was a lot less of that than there was in the summer of 2011. But generally speaking, the internships are paid.

In some cases, students may volunteer for a position if it would add a tremendous value or it's a particularly difficult field to get into. So in venture capital or private equity, there are students who have volunteered to work for those companies over the summer just to have the opportunity to get their foot in the door.

Linda Abraham: And get that kind of experience on their resume.

Ann Richards: Yes.

Christine Sneva: Thank you, Ann. That was really great, and I think you explained it very well, in terms of the difference with internships, that you might see that 99%. But depending on the industry and the job function, that could be very different.

And I think that's where our immersion program has been very beneficial and relevant for our current students in terms of preparing them, not only just for what you're going to do on the job, but also what's going on in that industry. What are some of the key things that you're going to need to know that isn't out in the media, that's insider information because we had five students intern at that company over the summer, or here are some alumni that are coming back and saying, "Here's what's going on, this is what you can expect to experience," or "If hiring's going to slow down, maybe you want to think of going this route or this area."

And those kinds of conversations, that kind of information, obviously very powerful, is something that candidates from MBA programs need to remember that you're getting out of this degree. That there's a skill set there, but there's also some other things that are going to also help you to be very successful, and I think that's where our community really is beneficial for those folks that want to know who their classmates are, want to connect with the alumni and network, and have a give and take. You know, where you're offering something to somebody else in your class, in the first year class or the second year class, that maybe they need to know, but you're also going to be the recipient of those benefits as well.

Lastly, our Career Management Center has a “surround the student” philosophy that takes each job function and specialty, that we really thrive on here at Johnson, and gives you all of the resources and opportunities that you need to be thinking about. So for example, consulting, we have the Consulting Passport that includes the consulting clubs that includes the Consultants in Residence, the key alumni at key companies that people will be anticipating and hopefully getting on those interview schedules, the contacts of the students coming back from those internships.

So again, all of that information at your fingertips, that if you're looking to move into a specific industry, that you're going to anticipate and need to know that's it not just in the classroom material that's very important, but is also this other non credit-bearing class, I guess, is the best way to think about it, in terms of your career preparation. And we're very serious about that, and Ann mentioned that that starts very, very early on. In fact, we're putting our class that once they make their enrollment deposit and commit to Johnson, we're trying to get them in front of their CMC associates, so that if there are things over the summer or very early on, or other opportunities that companies have. You know, P&G does branding week, Goldman has a week, J. P. Morgan has a week, so there are some opportunities that for these pre-MBA internships that we have access to that we want to make sure we're putting out there to our students before they come onto campus.

Linda Abraham: Jose has a question. "How much more difficult is it, especially because Cornell Johnson is a top school, to get admission without prior full-time work experience?"

Eddie Asbie: The one thing about that work experience, just remember it's not about the quantity. It's about the quality. If you look on our profile, it does mention that our average student has five years of work experience, but once again, just remember that's an average. When we are doing the application process itself just remember it is a holistic review.

Work experience is important to us, but just remember your GMAT, your letter of recommendations [are too], we're looking for the best applicant. We do have some students in the program who may have a year of work experience. We may have some students who have five years of work experience. But some of the key things that you really want to keep in mind are why an MBA? Why an MBA now? What can Johnson offer you, but then also why are you the best fit for Johnson?

The way I would look at it is, if you have a little bit of work experience, you're really going to want to articulate your goals and why you're just as competitive as someone with five years of work experience.

Linda Abraham: This applicant is asking specifically about applying without prior full-time work experience.

Ann Richards: Let me jump in and sort of add to that because I do think that candidates without work experience are at a slight disadvantage. When we're looking at a candidate without work experience, we want to see that they're going to be able to, first of all, benefit from our program, but also contribute to the program as well.

We like to see that candidates without work experience have some kind of demonstrated leadership experience, maybe have some great internship experience behind them. Perhaps that could be with a family business, or, in some cases, students who have lead a student organization, a fraternity or a sorority, or have had an impact with a community or volunteer organization.

Students that have prior work experience have a frame of reference for what goes on in class. They're able to understand, "Okay, now I know why my boss made that decision. Oh, now I know why the company moved in this direction." It all starts to make sense. And also, they can contribute to the class by saying, "Well, in my organization, we did it this way", or "Business is never conducted in this way in Jamaica, in Brazil, in India." And that really helps.

I think I've been here long enough that I've seen a lot of students come through our program, and many students with limited work experience will say to me at their five-year reunion, "Gosh, if I knew then what I know now, I would have gotten a lot more out of this MBA program."

It's not impossible to get admitted without work experience, but you do have to bring something to the table. You have to bring leadership, cultural experience, an ability to participate and contribute. There has to be a degree of personal and professional maturity. You're going to be in class with people who are much older, much more accomplished, much more experienced, and you have to be able to manage that well.

And then, finally, the last thing I'm going to say about this is employers, when they hire MBA students, their expectation is that they will have prior work experience. So coming into an MBA program without prior full-time work experience is not just a disadvantage in the admissions process, but it is a disadvantage in the hiring process. And that's really the most important thing to think about because you're coming to an MBA to get a great job, and if employers aren't going to value your lack of work experience, you are at a disadvantage.

Linda Abraham: Actually, at the recent GMA survey of corporate recruiters, that last point came through loud and clear. So it's just something for somebody to think about if they are considering applying right out of college.

Let's go on to some other questions here. Christine asks, "I see that Monica Touesnard teaches design-seeking principles. Are there other teachers or courses that dive into that approach?"

Christine Sneva: Sure. It's a pretty specific example that I would look to Monica to elaborate a little bit more. The class that Monica teaches is cross-listed with some other schools on campus. So it's one of those electives that I think has a great way that brings in the other graduate students at Cornell as well as Johnson. Also, it's through our Sustainable Global Enterprise immersion, also through the Center that has some of those courses.

They are currently working on an environmental financing certificate program. That's something that Monica's also working on. Where that is currently, I would look to Monica to answer specifically, so that you would get that question. Please feel free to email me and I am happy to send that on to Monica, who is more than happy and willing to answer any questions regarding the courses through the SGE Center.

We have a couple questions on interviews. One is from Danielle, "Could you offer some advice for interview prep at Johnson?" And one is from Christine, "What are your greatest pet peeves during an interview? In other words, what mistakes do applicants make?

Christine Sneva: I'm happy to start that answer. I'm sure Ann and Eddie certainly will be able to add that in. In terms of preparation, treat the interview as if it was a job interview. Dress professionally, prepare, and remember what you're going into. This is an interview that is assessing your fit with our program, that we know. You don't need to know everything about the program, but we really want to know, genuinely, why you want to be here, how you see yourself being a part of the community, how you came to that conclusion.

In an interview, you really also get a true sense of someone's goal clarity. So we'll ask you other schools that you may be applying to. We'll also ask what it is that you want to do, how you've prepared for that career. These are all questions that, through resources like Accepted.com and other ways, that really push you on these questions, not so you anticipate them and know this question, but really know why you want to get an MBA, and why is it important that you do this at this point in your life.

The interview really can be a great way for us to get to know somebody, and assess that fit. But also, remember, it's only 30, maybe 40 minutes, so we can't have a two-hour interview or a day's worth of interviews where you want to really try to get to know someone. So that's where other pieces in the application really come in and are really also very important.

Ann Richards: I would just add that really take the time to be prepared. I think the thing that bothers me the most, or my pet peeve regarding interviews, is we've read your application, we've put in this time, and we've identified you as somebody that we think has real potential at this school, and invited you to interview. And if you show up here, and you don't know about the school or you seem disinterested or you're not taking this seriously, I feel like we've wasted our time, and you may have wasted your time.

So be prepared, as Christine said, it's not hard to find out what kind of questions we're going to ask in the interview, and make the most of your visit here. Don't ask us questions that are easily answered by just visiting our website. Eddie, do you have something [to add]?

Eddie Asbie: Yes, I do. I have just one piece of advice. I always just want to make sure the prospective students remember that the minute that you walk through the door, it's like you're being interviewed. Or if you are reaching out to current students, alums, just remember to keep yourself in a professional manner at all times.

The minute that you walk to the Office of Admissions, the receptionist, you never know if that receptionist is part of the admissions committee. But then, also if you're walking with current students, you want to remember that current students will even kind of look at you to see if you are going to be the best candidate to represent our school. Being a part of a business school, this is something that you're investing your time, your money, but also this is a lifelong affiliation that you will have from the minute that you walk in, [if you have] any kind of communications, keep it in a professional manner.

Linda Abraham: I'd like to add to that. I would say that you don't even have to walk on campus. If you're interacting with school representatives of any kind, be it staff or students, online, offline, or telephone, you're representing yourself. Your behavior represents you. And hopefully, your behavior always is dignified and professional, something you can be proud of. But if it's not, somebody else is seeing and probably judging.

Again, what was occurring to me as I was listening to the three of you, was to a certain extent, the people here are taking the time to attend the chat and the people who are taking the time to learn. On some level, you're preaching to the converted. But hopefully, you'll tell some of your friends also, both that it's really important to know why you want to come to this program. You don't need to know everything about Cornell Johnson if you're lucky enough to get the interview invitation, but you do have to know what aspects of the program are going to help you achieve your goals, and then be able to respond intelligently and articulately to interview questions.

We've got more questions here. We have some very good ones. Eddie, this one, I think is for you. "As I will retake the GMAT a week before round two deadline, can I submit the official score after round two? I will mention my revised score in the application."

Eddie Asbie: Okay, with that, yes, you can submit your GMAT score afterwards, but the one thing that I would advise you to do is to notify us, letting us know that your scores are on their way. But once again, to do that full review to make that best decision, try to submit that as soon as possible.

Christine Sneva: I just want to add to that. Every single candidate has an application manager, and they are a great resource for every single one of our applicants to ask any kind of question, especially like this one. They are very dialed into where we are in the process, to me, to Ann, to Eddie, to Charli, who is our international recruiter based in London. Each one of us works with an application manager, and they can let us know what are some of the common questions that they're getting.

Again, if someone's about to take the GMAT on this date, but the deadline date is here, are we still going to consider that application, and those kinds of questions. They really are wonderful supporters to our applicants, so that you've got one contact through the whole process, and at any given point, if you're wondering about what's going on with the process, you're not seeing anything updated, or you're not sure about something, those are the people that you really want to go to because the rest of the staff is either in admissions committee meetings or reading or interviewing or on the road. So we wanted to really make sure that each candidate knows they have someone to go to for any question that they may have.

Ann Richards: And the application manager also is very often an advocate for your application. So don't hesitate to reach out to them throughout the process.

Linda Abraham: Wonderful. Thank you. "Does Cornell allow students to focus primarily on entrepreneurship in terms of courses and internship?"

Christine Sneva: In terms of entrepreneurship, we just went through a recent change where some folks may have noticed that we used to have an immersion called "Entrepreneurship and Private Equity Immersion." Our current students, a group focused on private equity [and] the group that were entrepreneurs came to the faculty and to some of the staff to say, this immersion doesn't really help us when we're wanting to do x or y.

And so, a faculty member who created this immersion, and who has been a faculty director for many years, said, "Okay, what do you want this to be?" And so, the private equity side said, "We're really needing more flexibility within the investment banking immersion, but we resolved the private equity class and the course here. We've got a lot of access to firms and companies and speakers to this class. That should be required to focus on private equity; however, we're going to need to also be very dialed into what's going on with the investment banking immersion."

Our entrepreneurs, there are some courses, there is a semester-long class in the spring semester, where you're basically building a business plan from the very start. And so, there's also opportunities to work with some start-ups. We have a few Entrepreneurs in Residence. There are a number of staff and faculty here that currently own their own businesses, have their own businesses, and are serial entrepreneurs. We have a great entrepreneurial network that's local, but also the Cornell Entrepreneur Network, the CEN Network, is extremely vast and wonderful resources and opportunities in anywhere over the world. I'm part of that listserv and frequently impressed on the events and the talks and the connections and the networking that this group is constantly doing, and the opportunities that are coming out there for anyone, first wanting to work within start-ups, but also looking to be an entrepreneur.

I will say that very rarely do students, who want to own their own business someday, do that while in business school or immediately after business school. I think you need to be very realistic in terms of what a short-term, two-year goal plan is, and then what that five-year plan is, and what the ten-year plan is. And if entrepreneurship and owning your own business in whatever industry is in year ten, then you really need to be very clear on the steps that you need to take in the short-term.

And that's something that we're going to look at through the application process. We see a lot of people interested in the MBA program that want to be an entrepreneur, have not shown any entrepreneurial initiatives, and so, to admissions committee members, we're going to sit back, and think, "Okay, well, this might be more of a long-term goal. We need to see a little bit more in terms of what their skill set is, that they will be moving forward on to get specific industry experience, again, to set them up for that long-term goal."

There are some courses, our Entrepreneur in Residence, Zach Shulman, would say, that you don't need a class to be an entrepreneur. You need diversity. You need to know what it is that you don't have a lot of experience in right now because you have to be able to jump in and do anything at any time, the strategy, the operations, the technology part of it, the marketing, and the finance, all of it. And so, again, they are some wonderful resources, and they're some of my favorite people.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. Great answer. Igor has another very good question about strategy consulting. It's in a different career path. "Do top strategy consulting firms recruit at Johnson? Also, what kind of activities, and how will the school structure help me shift my career to consulting and join in a top consulting firm?"

Christine Sneva: In terms of consulting, we do have a consulting focus that is paired with several other immersions, managerial finance, strategic brand management, and the SGE immersion. And so, what that does is that helps prepare our students for the case interviews and the questions that these consulting firms, when they're on campus and interviewing, are going to be asking them.

It just so happens, we had the team from Bain here last week with our alums. We also had a team from Deloitte here as well, so I think a lot of the consulting interviews are starting to happen. These top firms, and I'm assuming you're talking about Bain, McKinsey, and BCG, because we see that all the time on applications that those are the kind of consulting firms that you may be targeting, and so they are very, very competitive.

They see the top candidates from the top business schools every single year, and so, in terms of supply and demand, it's easy to do the math. You have to be a phenomenal interviewer. You have to practice case after case after case, and the preparation involved in doing any number of these interviews with these consulting companies is very rigorous. You have to have a very high GMAT score. They like to see top undergraduate institutions. They're going to ask you, certainly, what you're grades have been like in the core. They're going to be assessing your personality. They're also going to want to see that you can do math and other quantitative measures very, very quickly on the spot. You have to react on your feet very, very well.

Again, these are very tough interviews to get through, and that's because they want the top employees and the new talent coming to their firms. So what I would also say, if you don't have consulting experience, or you may not have the kind of pedigree that these top firms almost require to get in front of them, be flexible in your choices.

To get into consulting, it's not just the top three or four, with Deloitte in that mix, there's a lot of wonderful consulting firms that are out there, some smaller, that may be the right fit for you. And if we see that in an application, that you've been really in-depth in one particular area, now you want to go into consulting to gain more of a broad range of industry experience, that's fine, but our recruiters in consulting are going to be looking that you already have come with a breadth of experience.

So going back to that work experience question, it's going to be very, very important that the depth of your resume is already there before you even step foot on a business school campus. And so, that's, again, just where we're at with the economy, with the demand that we're seeing from the consulting firms, specifically. They can truly almost handpick the top talent from each one of these schools because there are so many people that are looking to move into these top three firms, which all do recruit at Johnson and also bring to their companies in various areas of the U.S.

Linda Abraham: Great, Thank you very much.

Ann Richards: I think if I could just add a little addendum. I think that if you're interested in moving into consulting, and you don't have the experience, it's really important that you start to develop a network. So reach out to friends or classmates or former coworkers who may be working in consulting.

Also, look at the websites of the top consulting firms. They list the characteristics that they're looking for. They may give you contact names that you can reach out to. And then, I think, in terms of the skills that you'll need to be successful in consulting, presentation skills are very, very important. So if you haven't already, you may want to think about joining a group or an organization like Toastmasters.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Thank you. Yes, I also recalled that we actually had interviewed Christine or somebody at Johnson last year, specifically on a few particular professional career strengths at Cornell Johnson. One of them was consulting and one of them was entrepreneurship, so I put links to those interviews in the chat window, and any of you can click on them, and then read them after the chat is over. Prati asks "Can you provide some thoughts on the essay question, 'How would you characterize your career since college?'"

Christine Sneva: I'll jump in with that one. That question, we decided to put on because we really wanted to just have you give us a summary of your career, really, without going into a full job description. So characterizing your career, whether it's been through leadership, whether it's been through a few changes because either you were moving, maybe it was for personal reasons, and you were able to gain opportunities, or you were looking to gain experience elsewhere. It's really more of an in-depth view of what your resume is telling us.

And so, what I notice is that we were asking this a lot within interviews, and really gaining some important information on what your experience really is. I know sometimes we should be able to see that from a resume, and sometimes when you're reading an application, it's very unclear exactly what the kind of responsibilities they had, really what industry, and what areas that they've really been able to get under their belts and looking to move forward on.

And so, I wanted to get ahead of that question to offer that into the application process. Readers read different materials first, so if they're going to have your resume up, and look at your resume, and just come out with a lot of questions because it's not clear from your resume, they're going to go to this essay question and see that you've been in manufacturing for the last three years, and you've been able to hold several leadership positions. Recently, you've made a switch, and this is what you plan on doing for the next nine months because this is really what's going to help propel your career forward.

And so, that's really what we're looking at. It's not a give us a brief job description of what you're doing. We asked for that already in the application. But this hopefully will give us a little bit more insight into how you characterize your career, and maybe some of the initiatives and ways that you've handled your career, the changes that you've made, and what that means to you, specifically.

Linda Abraham: Because a lot of it is about showing impact via in your career. Would that be a fair summary?

Christine Sneva: Certainly. It's so different for every single candidate. And so, we just really wanted to hear from them on how they've looked at their career over the last several years, or year, or two years. And notice that we're not necessarily asking you to link this to anything specifically about us or your goals. Those are other questions.

But if this was a warm-up question in an interview, how would you, and you had two minutes, and you were introducing yourself to an alum, to us, anyone, what would you say? "Hello, Ann. What do you do? What did you do before this?" You have to be very clear and concise and succinct in those answers because within the first thirty minutes, if you've only talked about one bullet point that you would have emphasized on your resume, that's not a good answer. This is sort of giving us your elevator pitch in a way, that hopefully you get a chance to think about thoughtfully and insightfully before coming into an interview.

Linda Abraham: Yasmine asks, "Do years of experience in research in a hospital laboratory count towards professional experience, or do you really require only corporate experience?"

Ann Richards: I would say that years of research experience do count towards work experience. Any kind of leadership experience that you've had throughout that will only enhance that, but yes, we do look at research, residencies, and work throughout your Ph.D. program also count as full-time work experience.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Thank you all for participating today. Special thanks to Christine, Ann, and Eddie for joining us. If you have additional questions for the panel, please email them to mba@johnson.cornell.edu.

We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A's and admission events. Coming up next, we have:

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Good luck with your applications. Thank you so much for your questions and your attendance. Christine, Ann, and Eddie, I want to again thank you, and I want to tell you that the “thank you”s are coming in on my screen from all the participants. So they really appreciated your time and are expressing that, and I want to pass it on. Good luck with your applications, and thank you again.

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