2011 Ask Consortium MBA Alumni Q&A with Rebecca Dockery

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2011 Ask Consortium MBA Alumni Q&A with Rebecca Dockery

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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 Q&A today, 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 student/alumni perspective. 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 about this outstanding program and their experiences in business school. I also want to welcome our special guests for this evening:

Rebecca Dockery – Consortium’s Recruiting Manager

Also joining us are some Consortium alumni and even current Consortium students:
  • Jacqueline Grace, University of Virginia MBA Class of 2010- currently the President's Associate at Harrah's Entertainment.
  • Jennifer K. Hill, Darden - University of Virginia, MBA Class of 2004, currently working at Humana, Inc.
  • Terrence W. Liverpool,- Simon School of Business (Rochester), MBA Class of 2008, currently working at Publishers Clearing House as the Manager for Online Marketing and Website.
  • Development
  • Jenise Sierra- NYU Stern, MBA Class of 2011
  • Jamie Buck- University of Rochester - Simon School of Business- 2003, currently a Senior Manager at American Express- Merchant Services
Thanks to everyone for joining.

I am going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first few questions. Rebecca, what's new at the Consortium this year?

Rebecca Dockery: A little bit of everything. We're really excited. We've been expanding rapidly the past several years, so this year we are up to 17 member schools, our most recent addition this year being UCLA and UC Berkeley. We are also very excited to announce that the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is on the common application. They used to be the exception to everything; you used to have to do both the Consortium application and the UNC application, but that is no more. So students that are interested in UNC Chapel Hill, only have to complete the Consortium application. We also just won a major award from the National Black MBA Association; we've been acknowledged as their 'Educational Association of the Year'. So we've had quite a good year and we're very excited.

Linda Abraham: That's great. Now I'm going to ask all the participants to just talk a little bit about themselves; what they were doing before business school and what they have done since business school.

Jacqueline Grace: Prior to business school, I worked for about nine years in financial services. I spent the first six years in the technology organization. I have an engineering background, so I worked in various IT management roles at Merrill Lynch. And then for the last two and a half- three years, right before going off to Darden, I worked in Diversity and Inclusion. I primarily focused on recruiting and retention for the office of Diversity and Inclusion at Merrill Lynch. Between my first and second year at Darden, I interned at Harrah's entertainment. One of my reasons for going off to school was to make a career switch into the hospitality and entertainment industries. So I interned at Harrah's Entertainment in Atlantic City last summer and I am now back full-time in their President's Associates program. I'm working in Atlantic City at one of our hotels and casinos here.

Jennifer Hill: I worked in management consulting for five years prior to business school. Upon graduating from Darden, I spent a quick year with NBC Universal, actually working on management consulting for about four years. And in the last year, I recently joined Humana in kind of a consulting role still but internal, to reduce my travel schedule.

Terrence Liverpool: I worked for four years before coming to business school at Simon. I spent the first two years out of Cornell at Xjeans.com. And then I spent the next two years at Comedy Central MTV Network, while working there as the coordination production person in their online area. I went back to Simon for marketing and entrepreneurship as well as business organization. And during that time, I had an internship at Campbell Soup Company in brand management. It was very beneficial to me. I realized that I really liked brand management but I wanted to still have that online aspect of it. And that's how I ended up in my position now as manager for online marketing at Publishers Clearing House, and I've been here for about two years now.

Jenise Sierra: I graduated undergrad from Tufts University with a civil engineering degree, and I was a structural engineer for two years. And after those two years, I always had an interest to be in the business world, specifically the retail world. So I made a career switch and I went into the buying offices at Macy's Florida, where I began as an assistant buyer and then eventually left as an associate buyer. I came back to business school in order to learn more of the theory that is behind running a business. I am currently specializing in marketing and entrepreneurship. Over the summer, I was interning at Burger King Corporation, and while I was there I developed a kid's marketing strategy for Latin America.

Jamie Buck: I attended the Simon School. Prior to that I was working for IBM for about four years before leaving to go full-time. I was working primarily in financial and that kind of evolved into internal consulting projects. And my focus and concentration at the Simon School was strategy as well as operations. I did my internship between my first and second years of school at Goldman Sachs and within global operations. It was a great experience for me but I always wanted to get back to more client facing roles. And what I picked up at the Simon School gave me the leverage to do that. So I've been working now, most recently with American Express, focusing on strategy and business development roles for their Merchant Services Organization.

Linda Abraham: Let's turn to the applicants questions. Diana asks, "Is it common for Consortium applicants to pursue traditional post-MBA career goals, or do most applicants plan to start a business that encompasses the mission?"

Rebecca Dockery: Your ultimate career goals are not a factor in deciding whether or not you are going to be a part of the Consortium. So I'm not really sure if that's the angle you are looking at with the question. We have students coming from all different career backgrounds.

Linda Abraham: Salome asks the Consortium alumni, "What is the most valuable experience you've gotten out of this program?" And you can divide that into participation in the Consortium itself and out of your MBA program.

Jennifer Hill: I think the most valuable experience from the Consortium initially were the visits that they scheduled at a lot of the schools. It made it really easy to come up and meet other students that were applying, and get acquainted with faculty as well as other prospective students. So I think that initially provides strong support. Also once you get accepted to a school and you get into the program, you build a strong network amongst your peers of other students that will attend your prospective school and other schools. When you stand at the Orientation Program, you tend to build a really strong bond with your fellow students at whatever program you decide to attend. I really ended up having a strong group of friends across all the schools because there are so many opportunities to connect; you meet people early on while you visit the schools, during the course of your circulation at your program, and over the summers if you end up being in the same city on your internship. So from a social standpoint, the Consortium was outstanding from that respect. Also from a professional standpoint, Orientation Program provides you with either a great opportunity to nail down an internship the summer before you even start school, or even just in making really good contacts with companies that might be on your campus later in the fall. So I think it's a tremendous organization. Now as alum, it's great to go back and recruit, and meet students that are coming behind me in the program, and kind of recruit the next generation of talent. So I'm very grateful for the opportunities the Consortium has afforded.

Jacqueline Grace: I just wanted to follow up with something that Jen said, and provide an anecdotal example of the thing that she referenced with regard to the Orientation Program and the fact that you can come out of OP having multiple offers. The Orientation Program is something that you attend in June, once you are accepted and before you even start your school year. I started the school year with three offers for summer internships from OP. The byproduct of having those offers is that you start the school year a little bit less stressed and a little bit more prepared than some of your classmates. And so while everyone is still going through the recruiting process, and you could also still be going through the recruiting process, there is something to be said for the emotional burden that is lifted knowing that you do have some type of offer. So it does make your experience within the first two-three months a little bit different.

Terrence Liverpool: I'll start with the Consortium experience. I'll piggyback off of what the ladies said as far as the Orientation Program, because it was definitely one of the best situations you can ask for. In addition to being able to come out with offers, just to prepare for it you get in: 1> working on your resume, and 2> being in front of companies and learning how to talk to them; getting your speech down and being able to go out there and know how to manage and work your way through, and face them with confidence. Because they are basically just out there for you; no one is really out there to intimidate you or stress you out. They are really coming out there to help you and support the Consortium, and you as part of the Consortium. And while you are going around to the different recruiters, you get a little feel of what it will be like before you actually head out to the other career fairs such as National Black MBA, or any other job opportunities you might have coming up. You get the chance to get all of that nailed down before you even touch the classroom, so it's definitely a great experience. I think at Simon, one of the best things about the program was the group interaction. At every business school you will have the chance to work in teams, and I think that is one of the greatest experiences because you get to see how people operate from very different backgrounds. Simon's population has a decent amount of international students so you get to experience this from all the different standpoints and all types of different backgrounds. And I learned many things that I never knew that were valuable to me inside and outside of business school, and inside and outside of the classroom. And I think the group interaction actually extends beyond just the classroom; it's making sure you get out there and get to know your fellow students. A lot of people might go to school and focus only on the classroom activities. If you do that, you're missing out on half of the great experience. You definitely want to get out there and interact with the different fellows. Join a group and interact with your fellow students and the community as a whole, and really get the full experience of business school.

Jamie Buck: The takeaway that I have from both the Consortium experience as well as my particular business school really comes down to relationships which are kind of underneath what everybody is saying. You start right off with the Orientation Program. In my particular scenario, I met one of my best friends on the planet now. So we met there at that particular weekend and we ended up rooming together. He is working in Africa now, and we maintain our relationship. It's about building those experiences. The same thing would apply for the experience of school. That interaction and bond builds relationships that will benefit you so much further down the line. All these schools are just wonderful programs, so regarding the classroom, you are not going to be shortchanged no matter where you end up. The key is really then leveraging those relationships and building your network and having the opportunity to build from those experiences. That would really be the takeaway for me, particularly on the Consortium specifically, as well as my specific school.

Linda Abraham: We have several quick questions, specifically about the application for the Consortium. Eric asks, "What are the requirements for applications to the Consortium?" And Eric also asks, "What is the process of applying?" Brian asked for confirmation that UNC this year is the same as all the other schools in terms of the application process. There are several questions also asking what applying to the Consortium does, or how does it affect their chances at the individual schools? June asks, "What essays do the target schools get to see as part of the Consortium application?"

Rebecca Dockery: The answer for the question about UNC is yes. North Carolina is on the common application. They now have the exact same application requirements as every other school. Regarding the question about the process of applying, first of all, if you haven't read the application instructions that would be a great place to start. But the requirements and things that you'll have to turn in are exactly what you would expect on a graduate school application: essays, transcripts, recommendation, interview, GMAT or GREs, and an application fee. The benefit of using the Consortium application is that it's a common application. It's one single application that you can use to apply to up to 6 members schools with one application and one application fee. That means that you are going to do everything once, and you're going to send it all to one place by one deadline with one fee. Beyond that, if you are admitted to any of those member schools, then the next step in the evaluation process is evaluating you for Consortium membership. I think you've heard quite a bit from our alumni panelists about the benefits available through the Consortium network and the Orientation Program. And the third and final step for consideration is a Consortium fellowship. And if you receive that fellowship, it covers full tuition and required fees for two years.

Linda Abraham: Wow, that's quite good. We have a few other more application type questions. Bill asks, "How many applications did Consortium receive last year and what percentage of Consortium applicants are accepted?"

Rebecca Dockery: Last year, we had roughly 980 applications. Of that group roughly 480 were admitted to at least one school, and of that group 300 received fellowship offers. So that's just a little over 60%. We don't know yet how many fellowships are going to be available this coming year; that is really determined by the individual schools, based on what is available in their budget. So we won't know that until mid-March. Linda Abraham. Okay, great. Here is a question from Adriana, "For those that made a career change, how did you sell yourself as an applicant? I've repeatedly been discouraged from mentioning a career change in the application. I'm interested to hear your advice on this." I believe you all made a career change on some level.

Jacqueline Grace: I'm sure you'll hear this a lot, but the quickest thing I could say is to identify what your transferable skills are. So with everything that you're doing, there is going to be a base skill set that you are going to get from that experience. Do some digging to figure out how that translates into the industry in which you want to transition, and then speak to that. I wouldn't be discouraged; it can be done. Most of my classmates made career transitions. It's really about identifying transferable skills and putting it in the language for the industry into which you are trying to transition.

Linda Abraham: Jennifer, I believe you also did a career change; do you want to take a stab at it?

Jennifer Hill: Yes, I did a slight switch, but it's exactly what Jackie said. I think that having a really strong understanding of the industries or the companies that you are targeting, makes it even easier to identify those transferable skills. For example, if you were going into consulting, no matter what firm you are looking to, there are certain things that consulting firms are looking for. We want people that are problem-solvers, we want intellectuals, and we want team-work and collaboration. So the more people that you talk to, even though it's people from different firms, the more you can get an understanding of that. Then you can start tailoring your resume and figuring out the transferable skills and talking about experiences that you've had; experiences that you've had pre-MBA and how that can transfer to post-MBA. So you really should have a strong understanding of where you are going and then how your transferable skills will fit into the new industry.

Jamie Buck: Everything that has been said is spot on. The key is how you weave that to tell your story. Everyone is coming in with different experiences. So if you are coming from marketing and you want to get into finance, you have to find the other talents and attributes that you can transfer. You have to just be able to paint that picture and tell that story about how that is going to allow you to add value. So you need to put good thought into what you currently are doing and what you have done, and then tie that back to the key aspects of the role/s that you are trying to get into. Here is a perfect example from myself. I liked doing some consulting prior to going to business school. So one of the things I really highlighted was that problem-solving, analytical background, and that got me to an operations internship with Goldman Sachs. I didn't have the experience firsthand in that industry, but I had the ability to get in there and highlight that I can think in a critical way in a high-paced environment. So it's just mapping those things you have an interest in and tying them back to what you have already done.

Linda Abraham: "To the woman from Harrah's, how much did you know about the hospitality business before applying? How did you incorporate that into your application?"

Jacqueline Grace: I knew a great deal about the hospitality business, only because that was the reason why I wanted to go back to business school. So I didn't work in it before, but I just did a lot of research online and spoke to people prior to starting, and Harrah's was the one company I really wanted to work for. So that's what I did before. To be quite candid, in my applications, my focus wasn't in hospitality because I had a different pitch which was something that could be more broadly applicable. In my application I stated that I was willing to go into multiple industries but similar in function to the one that I was in which was diversity and inclusion. And it is something that I am hoping to weave into my experience at Harrah's. Once I got into school, I still pursued hospitality, but the role that I am in right now is general management verses it being HR or diversity and inclusion.

Linda Abraham: Here is the next question that I am going to pose. "Hi, my name is Dominique. How have you used your academic and professional achievements to influence diversity in the workplace?"

Jamie Buck: For me, it's been important to find opportunities to expose the opportunities that I have been given. One example was when I was working with Thomson Rivers before working in American Express. I had an opportunity to do some recruiting, and go back and attend some of the discussions at my school. I had the opportunity to speak with students, similar to these types of discussions, but it was once students were already admitted. I had the chance to talk about what we've been able to do, and to provide insight on different career opportunities within organizations. So I try, when available, to have that opportunity to connect with students who are within the curriculum and are looking to make their way and transition back to full-time opportunities to give back. I feel that I was presented with a great opportunity and it's important to give back and have others benefit from what we've already experienced.

Terrence Liverpool: I'll talk more about my workplace. The place where I have put the most initiative has really been working on increasing recruitment to Publishers Clearing House. Being located in Long Island is kind of like doing that reverse commute; you are not going back into the city, you're coming out to Long Island. So number one, just getting the word out there about the company. I have different networks that I'm in and I let them know about the different types of positions that are available and about opportunities that are available at the company. There is the opportunity to travel quite a bit and other things. And then it's also having the opportunity to work with folks in a setting where everything is hands on and everyone is willing to help you out in any capacity that they can. And being in different workplaces and having different workplace experiences, that is something that really stood out with working there. And it is something that I've been able to pass along to fellow folks of mine and really let them know about the kinds of opportunities that were available. And I actually brought some people into the fold. I would say just in general in terms of direct initiatives, I actually do some community work outside of my workplace. I'm actually from NYC originally, so I do a lot of work with youngsters and teenagers in terms of helping them with things like resume development, helping them find better outlets for their energy and activities rather than being out in the streets. It's helping them focus on how they can advance professionally and really use some of the tools that they have. And I let them know about opportunities and people that are available to them right now. I think that the Consortium really is looking for folks who are going to use their skills in some manner, even if it may not be in the workplace, use them in some manner that really helps others and really helps to lend a hand to others who might be in need in any possible way.

Linda Abraham: The next question is from Kerera, and she asks, "While in business school, what responsibilities if any did you have as Consortium students/Consortium representatives on your campus?" Jenise since you are currently a student, why don't you start with the response on that one?

Jenise Sierra: I'm not only a Consortium student; I'm also a Consortium liaison. What that means is that I am one of the few representatives that communicate back and forth between NYU Consortium students and Rachel, who is our representative at the Consortium. We fundraise for the Consortium. We have different events where the sponsoring companies come and reach out to us. They'll have diversity events and they'll include us. We also help out with the interview process and all that, so you are very much involved. And I think that the greatest asset that we, as current Consortium students, are receiving is the opportunity to network with these companies that are actively seeking diversity students for recruiting. We all realize that we have the benefit that we already started building relationships with these companies from OP, through the Consortium process. And that does end up being something that you do carry on along the way-- the opportunity to reach out. You create mentors and those kinds of things. That is what I think the involvement is as a Consortium student. And also you have friends from the beginning and you form a really tight-knit group as part of the Consortium.

Linda Abraham: Jacqueline, since you graduated fairly recently, do you also want to address that question?

Jacqueline Grace: I would say similar to what was just previously said. As far as the responsibilities are concerned, I didn't have formal responsibilities as a Consortium rep or a Consortium liaison. But I kind of informally took on the responsibility of bringing together and organizing the Consortium class socially. So it started before we even got on grounds. During the summer, I sent out emails saying-- "Hey! Everybody let's introduce ourselves, let's get to know each other." And once we got to school, once a month I would just put out emails and organize potlucks or informal dinners at each other's houses. So informally I kind of took on a role as social organizer of our Consortium class. And it was something that really helped us come together. And we talked earlier about relationship building; it really helped solidify the relationships amongst our class.

Linda Abraham: Ayisha asks, "What skill sets did you widely leverage during your MBA from your previous career, and what skill sets would you have like to have had prior to attending?"

Jennifer Hill: My skill set coming into MBA program was kind of broad. The beauty of consulting is that you get to see a lot of industries, but you're maybe not so deep in each of them. So it was great because in just about every class, I was always able to offer something from my background that I had seen or I had heard. But I think one area that I would have loved to be deeper in was probably just from a finance perspective. I hadn't had too many strictly financial services clients pre-MBA, and so I was very jealous of some of my classmates that had been bankers or even accountants. But one of the beauties of our program is that we are placed on learning teams, and so although that may not have been my expertise coming into school, I had six classmates that I met with every Monday-Friday, and every learning team was equipped with someone who was a finance savvy person. So I had that expertise that I could tap into if I needed. I felt really equipped for the MBA, but that is one area that I maybe would have liked a little bit more coming into the program.

Linda Abraham: Jamie, I recall you also had some major moves in your career. What skill sets did you feel that you really benefited from and what do you feel you would have like to have had when you started your MBA?

Jamie Buck: I picked up from the problem-solving skills, but I would say that the MBA certainly helped round those out, and that was really what I wanted to get into much deeper in terms of the analytic skill sets that I had. So I had some, but I certainly was looking to build that out and get it deeper, like on the financial statements analysis and those kinds of things that I just didn't have prior to business school. The area for me that I wished I had a little bit more depth on was the accounting side. I felt like I was in class and wondering if everyone else was a CPA already. But that's what it's all about. You have to get the most out of those experiences. But yes, the accounting side is what I wished I would have had a little more background on.

Linda Abraham: Great, thanks. Clason asks, "I'm interested in learning more about the pre-business school benefits the Consortium offers for incoming members. I heard most students have their internships set up before classes start the first year. Specifically, I am interested in learning about opportunities in the tech-industry.

Jenise Sierra: The benefits come from the Orientation Program that you've heard all the alumni speak about. It's a five day conference where you meet people from your school, from different industries and from different career paths, and you end with this huge career fair with a lot of opportunities to interview for summer internships. And that definitely is the biggest benefit. But for the technology industry and for certain other industries, the sponsors are sometimes not looking to interview for internships yet, but actually just to get to know the students. So you start building a network even if you don't leave OP with an offer. I think this year when we began, it was during the tough economy state so internships were a little bit tighter and the offers weren't going out as loosely as in previous years. So I think that even though many of my classmates didn't receive offers from OP, they definitely did feel that they had gained a network and an 'in' into the recruiting process. It's kind of like a warm-up for recruiting season. Recruiting season takes up a lot of your time between corporate presentations, interviews, and different networking events. I think that warm-up and getting to know what your 60 second pitch is which you'll learn a lot more about as you continue, but basically just getting your story together and meeting people, I think is the biggest benefit that you get. Because when you get on campus, while newer classmates are learning the whole process, you kind of feel like a little bit of an expert on it.

Jacqueline Grace: I would say a little bit of what was already said. One of the best ways to take advantage of Orientation Program and set yourself up for success if you indeed want to come out with offers is to go into Orientation Program prepared. And it sounds like a lot because Orientation Program comes pretty much on the heels of you getting accepted, and then of you trying to wrap up whatever you are doing before school. But you need to do your due diligence and be prepared, meaning have an idea of the companies you want to target. Know which companies that you want to target are going to be at Orientation Program, and reach out to them beforehand, and there is a whole process where that takes place which allows you to do that. But have your resume together; have your story together. If you engage some of these companies before Orientation Program and once you are there, then yes, I think you can be really successful coming out of that event with offers or at least lead offers that will lead to different conversations over the summer which could eventually result in offers before you get to school in the fall. That was my particular situation. I came out of Orientation Program with second round interviews. And throughout the summer before my first year, I traveled to the different companies, and then I started school with three offers. But it was because of that networking and the preparation that was done prior to even getting to OP.

Rebecca Dockery: There is one thing that I want to add. I know that a lot of people have talked a lot about the different companies that you get exposure to at OP. And OP is an amazing resource, but obviously we can't have every company from the planet there. But we do have one other really cool resource that is overlooked sometimes; it's called CGSM Online. It's our student and alumni database. All of our current students and all of our alumni keep profiles and current resumes in there. So if you're looking to connect with someone who is in a company that isn't one of our sponsors, you can search that student and alumni directory to see if we have anyone working in that company. So it's almost a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon kind of game, but you can get through it through that particular resource.

Linda Abraham: It sounds like a great resource. We're going to move onto the next question. Balal asks, "What types of activities were each of you involved in, with support of the Consortium mission prior to business school?"

Terrence Liverpool: Some of my activities are kind of similar to what I am doing now. One of the activities I was actually involved in is something called the All Stars project; it's based here in NYC and has offices all over the country. It's an organization that really works with inner-city youths in terms of getting them to channel their energy in positive ways. So it ranges everywhere, from what's called a Development School for Youth. And it really works on helping students develop their resumes from the high school to college age. Some of their resumes can actually get the opportunity to have internships with Fortune 500 companies located out here in NYC. Folks from the business world come in and give classes and really help them work on any aspect of their resumes, or really help them prepare for an interview. Another aspect of our program is really getting the students in through a performance based manner, because you really have to talk to students on their level. A lot of students might come in and they want to dance and they want to sing and they want to perform. And you bring students in that way and you get them to channel their energy in a positive way, and then you keep them off the streets and out of trouble. And you really get them to see the other side of things. And one of the things they learn while working there is how to be a producer of a show. They put on actual plays and learn how to really be the camera man or the sound engineer. And they really learn a lot about different types of careers and different things that they can do with their lives, so they see that there is something out there outside of just the everyday nonsense. So that's one of the things I've actually worked on before. And just in general I was kind of like a mentor, or an indirect mentor for folks. I really just worked with them on development activities and really just wrapping their heads around some of the things that are available outside of the everyday life that they lead.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much Terrence. Becky, you've put together a very impressive panel today and that has actually prompted the next question from Carroll. She says, "Most of the panelists seem to have a very solid business background. Is this typical of most Consortium applicants? If a prospective Consortium applicant doesn't boast such achievement, will this affect negatively on the application?" Is there an experience requirement?

Rebecca Dockery: It really depends on the school that you are interested in. With most top tier business programs, you are going to find that most students have somewhere between three and five years of full-time work experience. But there are a couple of them out there that routinely look for students with a little less experience. But in terms of where that particular experience lies, that is all over the map. Just for example, in this year's coming class we have your typical accountants and your bankers and your marketing people. But then we had a professional basketball player, a professional model, people coming from the military, and people from non-profits. So really they are coming from all different places.

Terrence Liverpool: I know in particular, the Simon School has something called the Early Leaders Program, and it's something that they love there. In particular, some of my classmates, while we had those that were very experienced and those that were mid-level in their career, we also had those students who came straight out of undergrad. But they are really looking for the potential and the intent and the fortitude to really take on the business role, and they want to see that you've done things outside of the classroom, whether it be in business settings, in your volunteer activities, or anything along those lines. They want to see that you've really put effort out there and you're really pushing yourself to do things and succeed, and they are looking at the opportunities you take on. So I know that the Early Leaders Program is actually available out there at Simon. I believe there are a couple of other similar options at some of the other schools.

Linda Abraham: Another question from Brandelin who asks, "For those of us looking to be entrepreneurs in the future, do you believe that marketing is the best major to help prepare you for running a business, or is there another functional major that prepares you for entrepreneurship?"

Jenise Sierra: I think it's a really good question. I hope so, but I'm not sure about that. I think for entrepreneurs, there are so many different aspects that go into running your own business. The reason why I chose marketing over other specializations to combine with entrepreneurship was because that's where I felt that I had the most learning to do. I have a numbers background; even though it's not finance, I'm good with numbers. I have the quant side. On the marketing side, I felt that was more of my weakness where I needed to get more of that theory, so that once I am an entrepreneur and have my own business, I'm able to bring that in. Aside from marketing and finance, there is ratio strategy, and it varies by school the various specializations that you can go into. And when you are an entrepreneur, you really are in charge of running every facet of the company. It also depends on the kind of entrepreneur that you are, so I don't think there is one specific specialization that may better. I think it's more where it is that you feel that you need to strengthen yourself and maybe you should take more courses there to combine with entrepreneurship.

Linda Abraham: Excellent answer. Terrence, the questioner actually asked for your input on this question.

Terrence Liverpool: I agree that there is no particular major you need for entrepreneurship, but marketing will definitely be helpful and beneficial in terms of entrepreneurship. I particularly chose to get concentration in multiple areas because I plan to work on opening my own business in the long-term. But I think marketing in particular can help you in terms of entrepreneurship because if you ever plan to run a business, marketing will be key in terms of reaching out to the demographic that you want to target and also putting marketing plans in motion. Really in marketing, you learn a lot of aspects of running a business. In particular, I had the opportunity to work in the brand management area, and in there it's pretty much like running your own business within a company; you really manage the financials, you manage the marketing of the product, and you basically manage everything down to what the package looks like. And it really helps you in terms of learning how to go out there and really run a business with the benefit of having a company allowing you and fueling the resources you might not have as an entrepreneur starting out on your own. So I would definitely say it's a great option if you want to go into entrepreneurship.

Linda Abraham: One final question. "What advice do you have for applicants to the Consortium? I'm going to start with those who have been out of school the most, who have the most experience on the process.

Jamie Buck: The key is really analyzing and taking the time and doing your proper due diligence. So it's really honing in on your package: what you bring to the table, and then what's going to be the best fit for what you want to do and for the skill sets you currently have and for the skill sets you are looking to grow. As someone looking back on the system, and it's been a little bit of time since I've been through this process, but I remember that it takes time, but it's really well worth it. Really sit down and just build out your timeline and think about where you want to go. "Here are my top three schools", or just prioritize. Look at the pros and cons and your strengths and weaknesses, and compare those to the programs that you are interested in. And really do your research. Because ultimately these are the things that are going to be beneficial for you much later in life and these experiences are going to be great. But it's going to be really well worth your investment and time to understand what programs are going to be the best fit for what you want to do. You can't do enough work up front. What everyone spoke about in terms of the OP, translates into you hitting the ground running when you get into school. Take that same mindset and just rewind a little bit earlier before you got to the OP. Put that same enthusiasm and work effort into finding what is going to be the best fit for you and what you want to do ultimately from a career standpoint. So it's kind of high level, but I would say it's really worth investing and putting in the proper amount of time in that to accomplish what you really want to accomplish.

Jennifer Hill: I think knowing myself, the whole application process is designed for you to really take a close examination of what you want out of this experience. It's everything from: Do I want to go to school in a big city or a small town? What do I want to do post-MBA? What type of careers am I interested in? And do companies in that industries that I am interested in come to my campus? Are there alumni that are tapped into that network? When we start out, you're all caught up in the ranking, and that really is important. But it's more than the ranking; it's-- does that school offer what I'm looking for? And the more clear you can be about what you want from your MBA experience, the more different programs will resonate. And if you have truly done your work, it will really be obvious by the time you get into the process on where you really feel comfortable going. It's not really just a two year program. You're there for two years and you make that huge investment of time, money and effort, but the people from the program become friends for life. They become networking partners for life; they become business colleagues for life. I spent two weekends ago in New Orleans, with classmates and a professor and his wife, so you really do become connected. So make sure the program that you ultimately attend meets all your needs from a professional and a personal viewpoint.

Terrence Liverpool: One of ideas that were most helpful to me was actually visiting the schools. I know you can't really visit every school and sit in on a class, but more importantly-- talk to the students. And I don't just mean going to a forum and listening to the students; pull people to the side and ask them real questions you want to know the answers to. If you have certain questions on your mind, you shouldn't be afraid to ask them. The first year students at that time are going to be second year when you get there. And even the second year students are going to be alumni. You want to reach out to them; you want to get a real feel for the people on that campus. Can you talk to them? Can you vibe with them? Are these people who you want to be connected to for the rest of your life? Because that is really what it is. For the rest of your life you are associated with that school and pretty much with everyone who is going to graduate from that school. So you really want to get a feel for that campus; you want to get a feel for that vibe, and also get a feel for the people there. Can you work in a team setting with them? Is the curriculum something that you would want to deal with? Some schools might have a more case based focus, some schools might have a mix of it. Some schools might be bigger, some schools might be smaller. What vibe do you really want from the school you attend? So that's definitely one of the big things-- to reach out to students there.

Jacqueline Grace: I echo what Terrence just said. You can't underestimate the importance of getting off of the paper. It's so easy to get into the application process, and you are knee-deep in GMAT books and essays, etc. Get off the paper, get out from behind the computer and go out and talk to folks. What I would add though is not only to talk to the students, but talk to the alumni. And then get to know faculty. You'd be surprised at how many faculty members are willing to talk to prospective students. The flip-side to all to this is that it is not only important for you to understand the people with whom you are going to be interacting, but they actually get a window and insight of you. And the question was how to be successful in the process. This process is just as much about relationship building and relationship management as it is about your stats and what's on paper. So the more people get to know you and get to know what you have to offer to the school above and beyond what your packet says, the more people can speak to who you are and it can be an advocate when it comes to admission.

Jenise Sierra: I would say getting to know the school, so that when you make a decision, it's the right decision for you. Many times, you may try to put your best foot forward and it's finding the right fit in both directions. So it's so important for you to get to know the school, but also it's letting the school get to know who you really are, not only who you think they want you to be. I remember when I was doing my application, I wrote my first essay and I showed it to one of my best friends. We've always been each other's editors, and she said, "This isn't you! You didn't talk about this and that..." And it just opened my eyes. So my recommendation would be to just put yourself on that paper as you really are, because fit is so important, and if you are not showing who you really are or you're not getting to know who the schools really are, it's just a recipe for failure once you're there. Because as everyone said, the network is so important. And then finally, make sure to show your essays to different people to proofread; show it to your friends, your family, your network, your mentors, whoever you can show it to, because their feedback is so important. And although, ultimately it is your essay and it needs to be what you think is important, their feedback may open your eyes to new things you may not have even thought about.

Linda Abraham: Becky, do you want to add any more last minute tips?

Rebecca Dockery: One of the things that I hear from a lot of prospective students is that their biggest reason for wanting to be part of the Consortium is for the fellowships. And while it is true, a full tuition fellowship is going to make your life a little easier for a little while, it's important you understand that the organization is about so much more than the scholarship. And I think we've done quite a good job of highlighting the value of the Consortium network. But if they had to put a long-term dollar figure on it, I really don't think you could find Consortium alumni out there who would say that the fellowship is more valuable itself than the connections they made through those networks. It's just something to keep in mind while you're thinking about why you want to be a part of this organization and what you can get out if it. It's so much more than just a scholarship.

Linda Abraham: Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Rebecca, Terrence, Jennifer, Jenise, Jamie and Jacqueline for joining us today. If you have additional questions for Rebecca, please email them to recruiting@cgsm.org.

We look forward to seeing you at future chats, and here is a list of the upcoming scheduled chats:

Wharton Q&A with Tiffany Gooden
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cornell Q&A with Randall Sawyer
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yale Q&A with Bruce DelMonico
Wednesday, October 27

And Michigan Ross, CMU Tepper and Columbia are scheduled in November.

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Good luck with your applications!

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