Susan Roberts talks about how she made the most of her time while pursuing an MBA at Babson, and the importance of involvement both within the classroom and on campus.
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?
I was very involved in Babson's clubs. It's a great way to get to know faculty, classmates, and alumni. I served as President of the Babson Association of Women MBAs and Net Impact. My advice is to focus on your professional interests and take a leadership role in that club. Reach out to alumni to be on panels and expand your network. Don't spread yourself too thin on club commitments! You need time for academics and socializing with classmates.
What do you think is your program's greatest asset?
Babson teaches you how to think and act like an entrepreneur. A lot of the program is action based learning and taught by academic faculty as well as working professionals. You learn how to identify opportunities, test concepts, learn, and pivot or persevere. This mindset is critical whether you are in a start-up or Fortune 500 company.
My advice in choosing a program is to spend ample time looking beyond the rankings and school marketing materials. Keep your eyes open and ask a lot of questions to a diverse set of people in order to collect a wide range of perspectives. During my search, I found that what I was looking for in a program evolved as I learned more about what various programs had to offer.
What were the biggest challenges of pursuing your MBA?
Staying focused! There are so many academic, social, professional and club opportunities. I didn’t sleep much for two years but the experiences I had were well worth it. Put time into your classes but realize that your best window of opportunity to make strong relationships with classmates, faculty, and alumni is now. Everyone makes time to talk to a current MBA because they were once in your shoes.
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?
Take the GMAT right out of undergrad! You are in study mode, and your brain is primed for math testing. Also, get involved in your community- MBA admissions look for leadership contributions outside of work.
What is it like to transition back to school after being out for a few years? What advice can you offer students transitioning back?
If you were out of the classroom for 7 years like me, it's an adjustment getting back into studying and reading mode. Take a stats or accounting class before your MBA if you haven't had these subjects in a while. It will help with the basic concepts and demonstrates to admissions that you can handle the MBA quantitative rigor.
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice to students on how to make a decision?
In the end, your MBA network is just as valuable as your education. Many would argue it matters more. I was drawn to Babson because of the genuine enthusiasm exhibited by the students, faculty and alumni. Everyone I met loved their experience and was willing to help me on my MBA journey. Talk to current students and alumni, do you like them? Do they beam about their MBA experiences? What are their career paths? Can you see yourself spending 2 years working with them? Much of your MBA is group work and your peers will help you network into future jobs. Define your post MBA goals and explore paths to achieve them at your target schools. Are you trying to switch industries? Excel in your current field? Reach out to career services and find out if your ideal companies recruit at the school.