2011 Duke Fuqua MBA Admissions Q&A with Liz Riley Hargrove
2011 Duke Fuqua MBA Admissions Q&A with Liz Riley Hargrove
Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)
Linda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham. I’m 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 Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. It’s critical to your decision-making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you’re applying to. Being here today allows you to ask definitely the admissions expert on Fuqua about this top business school. I also want to give a special welcome to that expert, Liz Riley Hargrove, the Associate Dean for Admissions at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Thanks to everyone for joining. Liz, what’s new at Duke’s Fuqua?
Liz Riley Hargrove: There’s a lot that’s new at Fuqua, Linda. I think it’s been two years since I’ve done a chat with your organization. Since that time, Duke has announced a global strategy that I think is incredibly interesting, and will be interesting to the students who are listening in right now, and a vertical strategy, if you will, that will be interesting to prospective students. First, the global strategy really gives Duke a foothold in five major regions of the world. Duke now has a physical presence in India, in China, in the Middle East, in Europe, and in China. We have dedicated resources and staff on the ground that are helping us certainly with open market admission activity, but really helping to define Duke’s global presence. Then probably one of the more recent and exciting sort of new initiatives is work that we’ve done in defining and developing an education and research strategy based around industry verticals. We have nine research centers at Fuqua, and if you include the new research centers that we’ve launched more recently, we’ll have dedicated research presence in each vertical industry like consulting, finance, energy and the environment, IT, media, health care, and consumer goods. That’s really going to benefit our students as it relates to their job search process and the areas of expertise that they’re trying to develop. So there’s lots going on at Fuqua. It’s an exciting time to be part of Duke University.
Linda Abraham: Just a follow-up question on the global initiative at Duke – how is that affecting the students in terms of their day-to-day education on the campus?
Liz Riley Hargrove: For the students in Durham? Right now, because this is a fairly new strategy, we’re seeing direct results and benefits for our students in our Executive MBA program, because those students are actually taking their residency experience in those different parts of the world. However, for our daytime students it’s creating opportunities as it relates to connections with companies who are there. Our team on the ground is actually engaged in business development activity, so they’re connecting with alumni, they’re connecting with companies there, creating opportunities for our daytime students. In addition, at Duke there are lots of ways for you to internationalize your MBA experience if you’re a full-time daytime student. There are courses that you can take that focus on a specific region of the world. Those are called our global academic travel experience courses. Because we have, again, a physical presence and staff working, informing, and helping to build the curriculum and the plans for those courses, what our students will find is that the material that they’re learning in the classroom, and the access that they’ll have to international opportunities, will be much richer and greater.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. The first question is going to come from Stuart. He asks, “What percentage of places are typically available in round three, and does Fuqua accept applications from international students in this round?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: Sure, we admit students from each and every round of our admission decision process. What you have to consider is that by the time we get to round three, we’ve already been through a pretty competitive process, so there are fewer places available, but we absolutely admit students from every single round of decisions. So if you’re an international student it means that potentially your visa processing will have to be expedited, which is why we encourage international students to apply before round two, just so that we’ll have enough time to make sure that all your paperwork is in order before you would come to Durham, but we do admit students from each round of decisions.
Linda Abraham: I also would like to ask the applicants another question. Can you give a show of hands if you have applied already, either round one or round two. We have about 35% of the people here who have applied already. The next question I have for you is how many of you are here and doing research for next year’s application? I’ll assume the remainder are going to be applying this year. So how many of you are here and interested for 2012? About 11%. So the remainder must be planning to apply in the third or fourth round. Is there any difference in what you’d like to see in a later round application as opposed to the first two rounds? Because there is a certain perception out there that later rounds either are some kind of a meaningless exercise because you’re going to get rejected anyway, or that they’re just to round out the class with candidates with diversity elements, and those kinds of things.
Liz Riley Hargrove: That’s a really good question, Linda. In a competitive admission process, when you understand that the seats in the class are filled according to space, obviously when you get to the final round of decisions you are rounding out your class, in essence. If you’re a good candidate, you still have the potential and opportunity to be admitted, but you do have to recognize that it is going to be more competitive, because we’ve already been through several really competitive rounds of admission. There are fewer spaces available, so just by nature of where we are in the process, it is more competitive. But if you’re a good applicant, I would still encourage you to apply. We’re not looking for necessarily anything different than what we’ve been looking at throughout the year. We’re still looking to capitalize on the diversity that makes Fuqua so unique, so we are looking at the kinds of opportunities you’ve had professionally, your potential for impact as a current Fuqua student, and what you have to bring to your classmates’ experience, and certainly the academic profile that you would expect from a school like Duke. In the later rounds of decision we are looking to round out the class and to bring as many diverse perspectives as possible into the incoming class.
Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Chris asks, “If you have already applied, but there’s been a significant professional development in your life, how do you portray that to the admissions committee or your interviewer?” That’s a great question.
Liz Riley Hargrove: That is a great question. Oftentimes, especially recognizing that applicants have been working on their profiles and their essays and their application for admission for quite a bit of time, there could have been more recent developments that would be worth mentioning to the admissions committee. You can provide an email update of what’s happened professionally, and you can send that to email@example.com, and we’ll be happy to make sure that we include that with your application, and present it with your file – depending on when you submit it, of course – we’ll present it with your file to the admissions committee when the decision-making time starts.
Linda Abraham: I assume that what you’re interested in here are significant events.
Liz Riley Hargrove: Yeah, if you’ve had a promotion on your job since the time that you applied, if you’ve had the opportunity to lead a team or demonstrate your leadership and initiative professionally or within your community – I think those are things that would be of interest to the admissions committee. It shouldn’t be an update solely for the sake of sending more paper in with your application, but it should be a significant accomplishment, something that you’re proud of that would add to your candidacy and give us an additional data point on who you are and what you have to bring to the program.
Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Winton asks, “How does Fuqua look at candidates having two to three years work experience?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: When we’re evaluating a candidate for admission, there are multiple things that are important. Oftentimes we’ll get the question, “What’s the most important thing you have to have to be admitted to a top-tier MBA program?” and there really isn’t one thing we care about. We care about everything. We care about your GMAT score, we care about your undergraduate record, we care what your recommenders have to say about you, we care about your professional experience, we care about your interview and your interpersonal skills. As far as work experience goes, we recognize that everybody’s work experience is not going to be equal. While the average at Fuqua might be 4-1/2 to 5 years, the full range of experience that our students have is anywhere from 0 to probably 20 years at the top end of the scale. So everybody’s not equal coming into the experience, and we never look at the quantity of work experience and base our decisions on what the quality of that experience might be. Someone might be able to accomplish in two to three years professionally what may have taken someone else five or six years to accomplish. It’s not the actual number of years of work experience you’ve had, so much as what you’ve done during that time that matters.
Linda Abraham: Is there such a thing as too much work experience?
Liz Riley Hargrove: I wouldn’t say that there’s necessarily a notion of too much work experience, so much as if you have a lot of work experience, what is it that you’re expecting to get out of the MBA program, based on the amount of work experience you have. For someone who has potentially 20 years of work experience, it may not necessarily be to your benefit to interrupt your career at that moment to go back to get an MBA. If you’re interested in making a complete 180-degree shift in your industry and functional area, perhaps an MBA makes sense, but you may want to consider an MBA for a working professionally, where you don’t have to necessarily interrupt your career or your trajectory at that point to go back to school to earn an MBA. Duke’s a great place to consider if you’re in that situation, because we have only one MBA degree at Duke, but it’s delivered in multiple program formats.
Linda Abraham: You have a very rich menu of programs really to choose from.
Liz Riley Hargrove: We have three programs for working professionals that are a great option if you want to continue working.
Linda Abraham: Again I’d like to ask the applicants a couple questions at this point. How many of you are concerned that you have too much work experience, even given Liz’s response just now? 86% are not concerned they have too much experience, so that’s good. Now I want to ask, how many of you are concerned that you have too little experience? Please again indicate whether you’re concerned that you have too little experience. About 2/3 are not concerned. There’s a little bit more concerned about not enough experience than there is about too much experience.
Liz Riley Hargrove: Can we talk about that for just a few minutes? The notion of work experience – in the years that I’ve been doing MBA admissions, my advice to candidates has always been to really take a step back and look in the time that you’ve been working professionally, what is it that you had the opportunity to accomplish, and what is it that you want to do longer term? That will help you decide when is the right time to get an MBA. There isn’t a magical number of years of work experience that you can have that will help you know when it’s right to get an MBA. I think that’s a process that you have to go through once you know what it is you want to do longer term.
The MBA dynamic in the classroom and the learning experience is very focused on students contributing what they’ve done, where they’ve been, and what they’ve learned in the classroom experience. If you have relevant experiences that you can bring to the table about either teams that you’ve managed or projects that you’ve been involved with that will give you that ability to contribute, then maybe the amount the amount of experience you have does give you the opportunity say, “Yes, now’s a good time to get an MBA.” You’re really the only person who can judge whether now’s a good time to get that MBA or not. When we’re looking to round out our class and to make admission decisions, we’re looking obviously to bring a diversity of perspectives. My job is to create a microcosm of the world for our students’ learning experience. That means that we’ll have some students who have had tremendous international experience, and we’ll have students who have managed non-profits here in the United States. We’ll have students who have worked in consulting and accounting and financial services in very traditional pre-MBA careers, but we’ll also have some people who have done some very non-traditional things. All of those experiences make for a really rich learning environment.
So really take a step back and think about what it is you’ve done professionally that will give you the opportunity to contribute to your classmates’ learning experience, and combined with an MBA can help you achieve your long-term goals, because that’s what companies are interested in. “What have you done prior to your MBA, combined with an MBA, that’s going to help my company’s objectives?”
Linda Abraham: I recently heard a story, from Benjamin Blech’s book, Taking Stock, but I think it’s germane to this whole point of experience – too much experience, too little experience. There was a small business and there was an opening in this small business. The department head had left the company, and there were two people being considered for the position. One had been with the company for three years, and one had been with the company for 15 years. The owner of the company thought about it, examined the credentials, thought about the performance of the two candidates, and chose the person with three years experience. The senior person went to him and said, “How could you pass over me? I’ve been working with you loyally for 15 years, and you passed me over for this newcomer.” So he said, “Well, not exactly.” He said, “That person has been working and growing for the past three years. You’ve done the same one year’s worth of work 15 times over.” I think it’s a very valuable perspective on experience. What is your perspective on that story?
Liz Riley Hargrove: I think that’s a great story and a great demonstration of how if you’re ready to get an MBA and you’re ready to embark upon this experience, you have to think about how you’re willing to grow, how you’re willing to change, because that’s exactly what’s going to happen when you’re in an MBA environment. Everyone’s not equal coming into the experience, but it’s the common shared experiences that you have when you come into the program that help you expand and redesign yourself for the next stage in your life.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. The next applicant asks, “The MBA at Duke is a ‘life-transforming experience.’ Would that same description apply to the global EMBA?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: Yes. The Duke experience is a transformative MBA experience for multiple reasons. The first reason is because students have the opportunity to come into our programs and learn in all of our programs with a very innovative curriculum. The strength of all of our programs has always been that we have a general management focus, but we allow students the opportunity to pursue a concentration in one of a number of different areas, giving them the opportunity to dig a little bit deeper in health care or finance or strategy or energy and the environment. That gives students the opportunities to take classes and to take risks and engage in a learning environment and a learning experience where they’re able to take some risks in a really low-risk environment and change their lives and change the world. That’s actually the kind of students we’re looking for – students who are interested in doing well professionally and doing good in their community.
Linda Abraham: The next question, and you touched on this in the previous one too: If you had to narrow it down to three qualities that you want to see in an application – and I don’t mean GMAT, GPA – I mean character traits – what three qualities do you want to see in applicants before you’ll admit them? What would be the defining quality that you want to see of students?
Liz Riley Hargrove: I wish I could say that I could put our students in a box like that and just name three things that are the most important, but successful Duke MBA candidates come in many shapes, forms, and fashions. When we’re evaluating applications, it really is a holistic evaluation process. I guess I could say broadly speaking the things that we care about are obviously their career profession – what have you done professionally that’s going to add to the learning environment. Obviously our culture is very collaborative, and also gives students the opportunity to define and lead, so we care about a student’s teamwork and leadership skills, and we care about their interpersonal skills and what they’re going to contribute. There is a notion of fit with Duke’s culture, because it is a collaborative leadership culture. There’s a notion that you have to be either a team player or a team leader, and at Duke we believe that you can have both. You can pursue an MBA and that teamwork and leadership are not mutually exclusive of each other. That’s the kind of environment that we create here, so we’re looking for evidence of that in the application for admission – candidates who can articulate their story and their own ambition in the context of Fuqua’s story and our ambitions.
Linda Abraham: That’s great. Most of the applicants here have already applied, as we saw earlier, and I assume most of them are hoping for interview invitations, so two questions – What is the role of the interview in the evaluation process, and do you have any advice for applicants who are invited to interview?
Liz Riley Hargrove: The role of the interview really is to bring life to an application. It’s the part of the process where an applicant gets to be more than a name and a file number. It brings the application to life, so it reinforces the examples that a student has brought forth in their essays, and reinforces what the recommenders say. Really it sort of demonstrates that fit that we talked about, so it is a very important component of the process. It’s equally important to your undergraduate record and your GMAT scores. It gives us that face-to-face interaction that helps you differentiate yourself from other candidates. Our goal is to interview everyone who will subsequently admitted to the MBA program, and at least have that additional data point. At this point in time in the year the interview is by invitation only, so once you’ve submitted your application, the admissions committee will read your application and have a committee process whereby we’ll select the best candidates in our pool to bring forward for an interview. Then once the interview has been completed, we will finalize our admission decision. So if you’re invited to interview at Duke, that’s a very good thing. It means that you are moving forward in the admission process, but even if you’re not invited, understand that we do have interviewing constraints, depending on where you’re located. So if you’re not offered an interview invitation now, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be denied. It may mean that we’ll interview you later in our process before we make a final decision on your application.
Linda Abraham: Will you interview up until the decision day, or the day before the decision day?
Liz Riley Hargrove: We publish our actual interview dates ahead of time so that candidates can plan during the process. Depending on which round of admission we’re talking, we usually dedicate one or two interview weekend options for students to interview within. If you’re applying in this round, we have an interview weekend coming up this coming weekend.
Linda Abraham: Great. Our next question is, “How do you treat applications that disclose criminal convictions? Do you have a policy to deal with these special circumstances during the evaluation of applications?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: We do ask that candidates disclose that information in the application for admission. It’s information that we like to know. It doesn’t necessarily impact the admission decision, but it does give us additional information about the kinds of students we are bringing into the program. Oftentimes what we’ll see, if someone was either convicted of an academic violation or honor code violation in their undergraduate experience, or misdemeanor, it’s usually explained in an optional essay and just helps us to understand the story and the lessons learned behind whatever happened. That’s our main goal, just to understand who our applicants are, the kinds of experiences they’ve had, positive or negative, and what they’ve learned from those experiences.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. Drew asks, “How many admissions have already been handed out before round two?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: I mentioned that it’s a competitive process for admission. I wish I knew off the top of my head exactly how many offers of admission we’ve extended so far. We’re finalizing admission for round one right now, and those candidates will hear on January 31. If you’ve applied in round two, those decisions will be released on March 25. So really the only offers of admission that have been extended to date are for applicants who applied in the early action round, so we still have obviously plenty of space available, because we’ve only been through one round of decision – the early action round.
Linda Abraham: How is the application volume through the deadline today – how does it compare to last year?
Liz Riley Hargrove: It’s actually looking very good. Last year, most of your subscribers may know, we had a pretty significant increase in applications over the 2009 application volume – about a 22% increase. It was great. So far this year we’re running about even with where we were last year, which is great, considering we had such a big jump in applications last year, so we’re very, very pleased with the diversity of applications that we’re seeing this year, and the quality of the applicants who are applying.
Linda Abraham: Wonderful. Max is asking, and I believe you actually addressed it, “Are all admitted interviewed?” and I believe the answer is yes to that, right?
Liz Riley Hargrove: Yes.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Our next question is, “You speak about career progression. It is just related to the number of promotions, or is it progress in responsibilities? Some companies might have a very horizontal structure and a complex appraisal system, which might not, for example, result in promotions, but increase in ratings at a particular level or assumed responsibilities.”
Liz Riley Hargrove: Sure. Again, recognizing that everyone is not equal in the work experience category, if that is the case, that you’re working within a very horizontal structure, then I think your objective as an applicant to our program is to demonstrate the things that you’ve learned in your professional experiences that will add value to your longer-term career. So tell us about the projects that you’ve worked on. Tell us about the teams that you’ve been involved with. Even if you haven’t been promoted necessarily, there have to be lessons learned and things that have helped you grow professionally, and that’s what we want to hear about. Your recommenders can speak to hopefully those same things. Hopefully the stories are aligning, and the things that you’ve learned, and the things that you’ve been able to demonstrate at work, regardless of the opportunity for promotion, will be demonstrated in that thread, if you will.
Linda Abraham: Could you address for a moment the role of the recommendations in the evaluation process?
Liz Riley Hargrove: Sure. The recommendation really gives the admissions committee that third-party perspective on your candidacy for admission. Duke requires two recommendations for admission, and we ask that one of them be from your current supervisor. If you’re unable to get a recommendation from your current supervisor, a previous supervisor is fine, or perhaps a client or customer that you’ve worked with would be fine. The role of the recommendation is to sort of tie together the professional experiences that you’ve had, and to give the admissions committee that third-party perspective – an assessment of your strengths and the areas that are opportunities for growth for you as a working professional – and again, tying together all the other aspects that you’ve talked about in your application.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. Our next applicant asks about financial aid. Are there scholarships? Are there loans? And specifically for Indian students.
Liz Riley Hargrove: There are scholarship opportunities and loan opportunities for all students who are admitted to Duke. Scholarship opportunities are based on the merit of your application. There is no separate form or scholarship application that you have to complete in order to be considered for any merit-based scholarships. All merit-based scholarships are made once of the candidate pool of admits has been determined. Scholarship notification typically goes out within a few weeks of the admission decision. The awards are, for the most part, partial scholarships ranging anywhere from a partial scholarship of $5,000 a year up to full tuition. There are many more awards at the $5,000 level or the partial scholarship level than there are at the full tuition level. All students, including international students, are competing for those awards. Each year about a third of the incoming class receives some type of merit-based scholarship, but it is competitive. We’re looking at the same factors that we’re looking for when we’re determining admission, but then the criteria is kind of ratcheted up a bit. In terms of loan opportunities, our website has a lot of information about the loan programs that are available, but for international students it’s important to note that we do have a loan program for international students that allows them to borrow funding for their MBA program without a U.S. cosigner.
Linda Abraham: Great. That was going to be my next question. Thank you. Our next applicant asks, “What is the approximate distribution of seats filled in the early applicant round and subsequent three rounds?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: We will admit students from every round of decision. It’s always interesting to me, Linda, that when applicants are applying for admission they want to know like exactly how many seats are available. Because of the fluid nature of the admission process, we go into each committee process with an understanding of a target per se, but that target moves, depending on the quality of the applicant pool. Unfortunately I can’t say, “Oh, we’re going to have 10 people who are admitted in the early action round, and five people are going to get admitted in the final round of decision.” It really depends on the quality of the applicant pool and what we’re seeing at the time. Applicants should approach this process with the understanding that we do admit students from every single round of decision, and that the later in the cycle you apply, the fewer spaces we have available, but there are still seats in the class available through every round.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. The question that I get and I love is after they’ve submitted an application, students write me and say, “These are my qualifications. These are my stats. What are my chances?” At that point you’re either in or out!
Liz Riley Hargrove: It’s interesting. We get a lot of emails submitted with candidates asking us in an email to evaluate their candidacy. It’s a really unfair position as a candidate for you to be in, for me to read your email and to make an admission decision based on what you’ve put in the email. The decision process, as I’ve mentioned, is a holistic evaluation of your candidacy. It’s more than just your GMAT score and your undergraduate record, or your high school record even. So we don’t put candidates in a position where we’re determining through that type of a process if you’re going to be admitted or not. What I would encourage an applicant to do is to look at the profiles on our website of students who are here at Fuqua. Find out about their stories and determine if that resonates with you. Then think about what you want to do and where you want to be and what you want to accomplish with your life, and see if there’s an intersect with the stories that you’ve seen and heard from our current students and our alumni. If that resonates with you, then you know at a minimum that Duke’s a good place for you, and then look at the incoming class profiles to determine where you fit in that profile.
Linda Abraham: That’s a great idea. I’m routinely asked to look at profiles and evaluate them, and I do. I’m not in the same position as you, but I’m also keenly aware of the limitations of such evaluations.
Liz Riley Hargrove: Yeah, it’s really unfair to the candidate. If I tell you that you’re a good candidate, and the applicant pool is incredibly strong and you don’t gain admission, I’ve done you a disservice by looking at one or two data points of your candidacy and making that decision. That’s why we have an application. That’s why we have an evaluation in a committee.
Linda Abraham: The greater disservice would be if you discouraged somebody based on one or two data points, then you read the entire app and you say, “Wow, this person is really fantastic!” and if they had heard that evaluation they wouldn’t have tried. They would have looked at you correctly as being far more informed, because you have a broader picture and clearer insight into the school and the application pool then let’s say I do. The most I will say about a candidate is I feel they’re competitive, but we both know that competitive applicants are both accepted and rejected. I will say if I feel a candidate is not competitive, but I’m not on the inside of the admissions office, and everybody knows that. Getting back to the questions here, our next student asks, “Do you take into account the fact that applicants have come from an entrepreneurship background could have low levels of income salaries?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: Salary is actually not a factor in the admission process. It’s a great question, because it presumes that on some level you make assumptions about how much someone might earn in their career and make an assessment of is that good work experience or bad work experience, but that’s not how we use that information. Let’s take an entrepreneurship or a non-profit career – those applicants tend to earn less than someone who might work in consulting or financial services, but they still have tremendous value and perspective to add to the incoming class. Incoming salary is not necessarily a factor in the evaluation criteria. We ask it because we like to hold that data point to make comparisons over the year, but it’s not a criterion for admission that you earn a certain level of income to be admitted.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. Max asks, “Could you discuss the level of specificity in regards to goals that you’re looking for?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: Another very good question. I’ll tell you a funny story to go along with that. Our dean, in his first year at Fuqua, at orientation asked the students, “How many of you have absolutely no idea what you want to do when you graduate?” and probably 90% of the students raised their hands. I had to raise my hand and say, “And that is despite the beautiful essays that you outlined in the application process, telling me exactly what you wanted to do short-term and long-term.” I’ll tell you, I struggled with that at that point, because I thought maybe we just shouldn’t ask people what they want to do short-term and long-term, because we recognize that coming into our environment, where there’s so many amazing students in the class who have done interesting, challenging, and diverse things with their lives – once you come in and you start meeting these people, you could change your mind about what you want to do professionally. Once you start looking at the opportunities that might be available to you with an MBA, you could change your mind about what you thought you might want to do, and that’s okay. It’s okay to come in with an understanding of perhaps one or two things that you might be interested in, that you know are possible after you get an MBA.
I think if you have 100 different things that you might be interested in, then you might want to take a little more time before you pursue an MBA to figure that out, because what will happen is you won’t be able to take advantage of the full Fuqua experience because you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do. That means that you’ll obviously be engaging in a very vigorous academic process and a very rigorous job search process that might spread you too thin. So when we ask what your short- and long-term goals are, it’s to engage you in the process of thinking about how you’re going to use this experience to launch.
Linda Abraham: Isn’t there also the belief that if you can develop a plan at this point in time, i.e. at the applicant stage, that makes sense based on your experience, based on the education you anticipate getting, and obviously the job market that you see now, you’ll be able to do so also in your first and second year and afterwards. And if you can’t do that now, you might be able to do it in the future, but clearly you don’t have the same degree of confidence.
Liz Riley Hargrove: Exactly. I think you have to have a plan. If you think about engaging in a rigorous academic process, the potential for what you’ll learn in this environment, and the amount of money that you’ll spend to get an MBA, coming up with a plan before you get here enables you to maximize the experience.
Linda Abraham: I couldn’t agree more.
Liz Riley Hargrove: Really, when you’re engaged in a job search process, you’re drawing on all of those experiences that you’ve had up until that point, and you have to articulate that to the company that you’re interviewing with. It’s not just about your MBA experience that you’ll be discussing when you interview with a company, but it’s all those experiences that you’ve had up until that point, so you have to be able to tie it together and come up with a plan. Then come up with a plan if the plan changes.
Linda Abraham: Right. Having done it in the past will help you in the future. Getting back to Max’s specific question about the degree of specificity, I’d be really interested in hearing your opinion on this. What I normally advise clients is that they should be able to discuss a function and an industry.
Liz Riley Hargrove: I think that’s perfect, and why. A function and an industry and why, and what’s the connection. I care about the connection. Naming a function and an industry is great, but if you’re in something that’s completely opposite from your longer-term perspective, what got you interested in that? What was the motivation to insert that particular function and that particular industry? Now you don’t have to name the job and the city with the company that you want. That’s fine. I think oftentimes candidates think that’s the level of detail we’re looking for. But if you’re interested in health care because of a specific experience that you had with a hospital organization, it’s okay to tell us, “I’m making a switch from an engineering background to health care because of this experience.” We care more about that transition than we do say, “Oh, I want to work for this particular health care organization in this city,” without understanding why you want to do that.
Linda Abraham: Sounds good, thank you. I think you answered Max’s question. Another question here. “How is recruiting and hiring going at Fuqua now?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: That’s a big question. Obviously prospective students who are about to engage in this process care about the job prospects when they finish. I was able to get some information from our career management center prior to this chat, and what we’ve learned is that banking and consulting seem to be picking up – which is great news – with consulting especially on the rise for international offices, so that’s good for international students who are either going to work back in their home country, or for domestic students who are interested in some type of international experience after the MBA.
Linda Abraham: Is that for both fields, or for management consulting?
Liz Riley Hargrove: Primarily for consulting. We have seven spring consulting events and initiatives for employers and industries that hire on a more just-in-time basis, which is good for students who had their summer internship experience, let’s say, and are looking for opportunities right now. There are events in Durham, one in the Bay Area, one in Atlanta, there are some virtual fairs that we’re about to engage in, and then there’s a marketing push for students who are seeking jobs outside the United States, so there’s a lot going on in the career management center. It’s nice to see that recruitment activity is picking up.
Linda Abraham: That’s great to hear. Jack asks, “What percentage of students explore global opportunities while at Duke – abroad and on the global consulting practicum? How do these opportunities affect recruiting?”
Liz Riley Hargrove: That’s a really great question. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of ways for you to internationalize your MBA experience while you’re here at Duke, and we encourage our students to take advantage of that. I think it adds to the experience that you have while you’re here, but it also I think, when you’re looking for employment opportunities, when you’re engaged in the job search process, I think those are the kinds of experiences that you engage in that help differentiate you from your peers at other business schools. The GATE programs give you a wonderful opportunity. They’re classes that you can take. They’re six weeks in length where you’re studying about a particular region of the world, and then your class actually visits that part of the world at the end of the experience. You’re studying perhaps a particular aspect of what’s happening in that region of the world, whether it be health care or sustainability or energy and the environment or let’s say marketing, for example. A good number of our students will take advantage of those opportunities. We have study abroad programs and the global consulting practicum courses that students can take that give them very focused areas to dig a little bit deeper internationally, and to add to their Fuqua experience. I don’t know the exact percentage, but the GATE classes I know over the past couple of years – we’ve had to offer in some instances two classes to a particular region of the world simultaneously because of the number of students who are interested in those opportunities. It’s a great way to expand your Fuqua experience and to learn more about the world, and to see more of the world while you’re in the program.
Linda Abraham: That sounds exciting. Thank you. A couple questions – we’re going to close soon, and I sincerely hope that everybody at the Q&A today, as well as everybody who reads this or listens to it – the question I have though is for those who are either waitlisted or those who are ultimately rejected and want to reapply. What suggestions do you have for those two categories?
Liz Riley Hargrove: I’ll address waitlist first. The good news for candidates who are waitlisted is that anyone who’s waitlisted at Duke is reviewed with each subsequent round of admission decision. I’ll give you an example. A candidate who may have been waitlisted in early action is automatically going to be reviewed with round one applications when we’re ready to release our decisions at the end of the month. There’s a constant review process in place to look at our waitlist and determine the candidate’s strength compared to the current pool of applicants. There are some students who will remain on the waitlist perhaps over one or two rounds of admission who have been successful in obtaining admission in round two or round three, or perhaps even over the summer months, but it’s really based on the level of competition that we’re seeing with our applicant pool and the available space when we’re ready to release admission decisions. If you’re a candidate who’s been waitlisted, there’s a Q&A that we send out to you that gives you pretty specific instructions about what you can do to communicate with the admissions committee, and how you can check in with us. I would just encourage all applicants to read through the Q&A, because it does go into a pretty good level of detail about how you can enhance your chances of being admitted.
As far as the reapplication process goes, we do see a good number of applicants who were unsuccessful in their application in a previous year who choose to reapply in another application cycle or another year. When we’re reviewing applications for those candidates, what we want to know is how has your current application changed from your initial application. So speak to the things that you’ve done that are better than the time you submitted. Perhaps it’s a function of when you applied for admission. Perhaps it’s strengthening your quantitative readiness for the program. Perhaps you retook the GMAT and submitted a better GMAT score. So it could be a number of factors that have changed in your personal background that make you a better candidate, and we’d like to know that when you submit your application for admission. So that’s what you’ll talk about in your essays.
Linda Abraham: Great. One last question from Max, and I’m going to definitely let you answer this one without any input from me. “I’ve heard several pronunciations of Fuqua. Which is correct, so I don’t sound like a dufus in an interview,” which would imply that my mispronunciations have made me sound like a dufus, but so be it. What’s the right way to say it?
Liz Riley Hargrove: Great question, Max. It’s really funny, because one of the things that differentiates the Duke MBA from all the other programs that your customers are considering is that the name of our business school is much more difficult to pronounce than some of the other schools. It’s a little tricky because it’s an F word, but in honor of Mr. J.B. Fuqua, the benefactor and significant donor to the business school, and who we were named after, I’ll give you a very easy way to think about how to pronounce Fuqua. I’ve heard it pronounced a number of different ways over the course of my time here at Fuqua – some really, really bad, and some that I can’t ever repeat on this chat. What I’ve described to you in this chat are a few qualities of the Duke experience. If you can say “few qualities” you can say Fuqua. It’s phonetically spelled few-kwa. I have a joke that I share with our students at orientation that is not so funny to prospective students, but tends to be really funny with students who have already been admitted, because they’ve already been admitted and they no longer need me as the admissions person. I tell them that “Few students quality for admission.” If you can say “Few qualified,” you can say Fuqua.
Linda Abraham: Okay, so you’ve got the advice now from the expert on a variety of subjects, not just pronunciation. I want to thank you all again for participating today. A special thanks to Liz for joining us. Your answers have been really illuminating. I can see from the feedback that’s coming up on the screen that you’ve done an excellent job answering the participants’ questions, and they’re very, very appreciative. If you have additional questions for Liz, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. How’d I do this time?
Liz Riley Hargrove: Very good, Linda! You’re getting there.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. I’m getting there.
Liz Riley Hargrove: You’ll have to practice more.
Linda Abraham: I’ll do my best. Please also remember to fill out the survey when leaving the webinar. We highly value your feedback, and I’ve already made significant improvements to our webinars based on your suggestions. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. As you can see, we have several upcoming Q&As, including
Good luck with your applications! Thank you so much again, Liz, for coming.
Liz Riley Hargrove: It was great. Thank you, Linda, for inviting me.
Linda Abraham: You’re very welcome. Take care.Continue exploring our free resources with our MBA Admissions 101 pages