Liz describes her experience at Scheller College of Business and how it has benefitted her personally and professionally.
MBA, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology
Occupation: I start working for Delta Air Lines in Network Planning as part of their Commercial Strategy MBA program.
What were the biggest challenges of pursuing your MBA?
Finding balance was one of my biggest challenges. There are so many things to do during the program and they all seem so appealing: there is coursework, of course, but also social events, clubs, networking events, job searching, conferences, case competitions – the list goes on. Plus, MBA student often work or do research, and we still have to maintain important relationships with friends and loved ones outside of the program. I was even crazy enough to plan a wedding! Things can get stressful, but I found that by being honest with myself about my priorities (focusing on what’s really important to me instead of what I feel should be important), being proactive where I could be, cutting what wasn’t important, and doing some creative juggling, I could fit a lot more into my schedule than I imagined and still maintain my sanity. It took a while to catch my stride but it can be done!
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?
Focus on the end result and work backwards. Where do you want to be when this is all over? What do you want your career to be like? What do you want your life to be like? Do some research, talk to people, and try figure that out first; then search for a program that can help get you there. Some schools are better than others in preparing you to work in certain industries, for certain companies, and in certain geographic regions than others. Figuring that out is much more efficient than mucking through tuition rates, rankings, and GMAT scores, and will also make your application process –and your job search later – much simpler. B-school is over in a flash, but the rest of your career is a long journey; make sure the school you choose will set you on the right course.
If you had the chance to do your MBA program again, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I wouldn’t sweat the grades so much! We MBAs are so achievement-oriented that we feel like we always have to be on top, so we push ourselves too hard sometimes. Grades are important, but there are so many other important parts of this process, like trying new things, getting to know your classmates and professors, and career prep. Make time for all of it; things have a funny way of coming together in the end.
What is it like to transition back to school after a few years? What advice can you offer students transitioning back?
I had a bit of a rough transition. I was really resistant to the idea that I had to do homework again; I loved my precious evenings and weekends! Ultimately, I set myself behind and ended up having to work extra hard to catch up on all the homework and reading – it was rough. My advice is that slow and steady wins the race; if you stay on top of your homework and reading from the outset and use slow periods to get ahead of schedule, then when an impromptu happy hour or visit from a friend pops up, you can take time off without worrying about your next test or deliverable. Also, studying in groups can be extremely efficient if your group is organized.
Have your interests and passions changed since beginning your MBA program?
When I started my MBA, I was sure that marketing was the thing for me, and even thought about careers in brand management. However, I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed operations. I had an especially inspirational professor for my service operations management course, which I realized was the perfect blend of operations, marketing, and psychology to suit my interests. I didn’t even know that area existed before I started my MBA.
Did your school's Career Services have a strong presence in your MBA experience?
I love Scheller’s career services staff. Because we have a very low counselor to student ratio, our career counselors give us very personalized attention. I started working with my career counselor before school even began. Then we had a weekly seminar with career services in the first few weeks of school, and the things we learned there not only prepared us to hit the ground running with career fairs and info sessions, but the work we put in during these sessions paid off over and over throughout the job search process. Throughout these sessions and other career-related events, I got to know several of the counselors and staff members very well, so even if we just ran into each other around the building, they would always checking in on me, offering advice and support, and introducing me to recruiters and professionals who could help me along the way.
For more stories like Liz's, check our blog's Alumni Profile series!