Luisa Claderon, MBA from Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech, came to Georgia from Mexico City to earn her degree. Here she gives advice to students thinking of going abroad for their MBA.
Name: Luisa Calderon
School: MBA, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech
Profession: Associate Brand Manager, Georgia Pacific, Atlanta, GA
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class?
During my MBA, I was highly involved in extracurricular activities. At times it was difficult to juggle class work with my other duties, however, I quickly realized they were complimentary and I was getting a lot of value out of both. I was philanthropy chair and really enjoyed helping connect the MBA program to several Atlanta organizations to serve the community. I was also lucky to be part of the Marketing club. Marketing has always been my passion and that role helped me guide a lot of my classmates that were interested but haven’t been exposed to the discipline before.
Why an MBA?
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?
A lot of people decide to do an MBA to figure out what to do next and learn from a lot of different disciples. My advice is to figure out where you want to be two years from now and go to the MBA program that will help you get there. I know it’s easier said than done, however, 2 years go by really fast and every moment should be spent working on an end goal.
Every program is different and in order to choose the best program for you a big part is to look at the doors different programs will open for you and decide which one will open the rights doors. Spend time talking to alumni, look at the top recruiting companies and research on what is the program known for.
How much are you in touch with the alumni network?
I am highly in touch with the alumni network, I have become very close to several of them and they have always provided with very valuable advice and support. You need to get yourself out there and meet alumni in casual environments instead of only approaching them when you need a favor. During events like the crawfish boil, homecoming and case competitions I met and created real connections with alumni that today I consider not only mentors and advisors but also friends.
What are some of the first steps an international student should take after being admitted, in order to ensure that they are prepared for an MBA program?
This is a tough one! I don’t think you can ever be prepared for it as an international student. The first couple of months are going to be very challenging no matter what. But it will also be exciting and extremely rewarding. My advice will be to make sure you have at least 2 weeks before classes start to get familiar with the city. Once the semester starts you will be extremely busy from day one. Make sure you find an apartment, figure out your commute, get your ID, submit all your paperwork and stock up on granola bars before you get too overwhelmed with school. My second advice is to enjoy the ride! Don’t expect it to be easy; you wouldn’t be one of the few doing it if it was. Don’t be so hard on yourself and allow some time to have fun and hang out with your new classmates.
What inspired you to pursue your MBA abroad and what have been the greatest benefits of doing so?
I have always been very curious about trying new things and embracing new adventures. I was at a point in my career where I loved my job and I was excelling at it. The easy and logical path was to keep doing what I was doing, but where is fun in that? Honestly, I didn’t overthink it. I grew up in a family where education has always been extremely valuable and I have seen how other coworkers holding MBAs from US universities seemed to always be ahead of the game. I was the perfect age and had the right experience and energy to give an MBA abroad a try and so I did. The decision of moving to a new country and city where I didn’t know anyone was by far the easiest part of the journey!
Looking back it has also been the best decision ever, three years ago I never imagined my life will have drastically changed. I am still working in a marketing job that I love but I have accelerated my career and developed skills and relationships I never imagined.
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