Emily Smith, alumna from College of William and Mary Mason School of Business, reflects on why she decided to pursue her MBA at the Mason School of Business. She also provides advice to future applicants on how select the right school for them.
MBA College of William and Mary- Mason School of Business
Organizational Change Management Lead, MITRE Corporation
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?
My MBA experience was made exponentially richer by the extracurricular activities I participated in outside of class. I was active in our student government my first year and became president of the organization my second year. These activities gave me opportunities to build my out-of-class networking, speaking, and leadership skills. I also become active in cross-College sustainability efforts, which gave me access to personal development opportunities outside of my MBA program. I learned very early on that what I thought was going to be two years of developing myself as a professional in the classroom was a narrow perspective on obtaining an MBA. Instead, it was the combination of classroom and out-of-classroom experiences that would make this time and financial commitment as much as it could be. Balancing time between academic, extracurricular, and social activities was definitely challenging, but, not surprisingly, I found the best way to handle it was to be incredibly organized and plan for things in advance.
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice to students on how to make a decision?
I chose the Mason School of Business for many reasons, but one of the characteristics that attracted me the most was that the size of the program created an intimate environment where professors knew my name, I knew all of my classmates, and I had the support I needed to push myself to excel. I found it to be a unique program because my classmates were intensely self-competitive, yet we always looked for ways to help each other. Sometimes that meant holding one-on-one study sessions and sometimes that meant an “expert” student holding large group study sessions before an exam. I loved that my classmates wanted the best out of themselves and each other.
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.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue an MBA? What inspired you?
After about two years post-college, I started considering an MBA to help balance out my liberal arts undergraduate degree. I was in a job that I really enjoyed, but I realized that I was beginning to hit a ceiling of business knowledge and I didn’t want to be held back by that. I was inspired by the leaders around me to advance my career through an advanced degree. I viewed an MBA as a way to open doors to nearly any career path that I might choose down the road. After researching a variety of graduate programs, I concluded that an MBA would give me the hard and soft skills that I felt I needed to be best prepared for my professional future.
How often are you in touch with your alumni network? Are they helpful in making connections?
I am in touch with my fellow alumni nearly every week in some manner. Whether it’s reconnecting with a classmate, directly assisting the school, connecting a current student with an alum, or attending local events, I have always found the business school and overall College alumni networks open and available for building connections. The warmness of the network keeps me invested in giving back to the school and its network in ways I could have never imagined when I selected the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary to obtain my MBA.