Sara Trevisani earned her MBA from the UConn School of Business. Now she's sharing her advice for future applicants and business students.
Name: Sara Trevisani
School: MBA, UConn School of Business, The University of Connecticut
Profession: HealthService Leadership Development Program, Cigna
Why an MBA?
How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you? Do you have advice for students considering an MBA on how to make that decision?
I had a minor in business administration, but my undergraduate major was in the life sciences. I went to work for a pharmaceutical company after college. After a year I realized that without core business knowledge my ceiling was lower than others. I had many conversations with business leaders and I was impressed how they could think beyond the problem or question addressed to see the impact on the strategy of the organization. My prior work experience was essential in determining the value that a business education could bring. I would recommend having work experience before entering the MBA program. You can relate what you are learning to experiences you have had in your own workplace. Additional advice would be to think about your short and long-term goals. Does the role you are looking for in 10 years require a master’s degree? Will an advanced degree help you in your career goals and on your career path? Do you have the strategic thinking required of leaders? Are you willing to put in the work not only in school but to get through the admissions process?
Did you come from a non-business background? If so, how did you highlight your achievements and tell your story when applying?
Even if you have the education or work experience that is not specifically in business, every opportunity relates back to business. Telling a story is crucial in the MBA application process. It is important to communicate what made you make this switch in your career and want to get your MBA. You will have relevant business experience regardless of your background. Ask people in business fields how your experience will translate to the industry or role you are interested in after the MBA program. Admissions teams want to see that you have a picture of where you want to go. Your story may change once you enter the program, most do, but helping them see your vision will help you stand out. I demonstrated how I thought through a different lens and how I could bring that thinking to the classroom. I had a science degree but worked in the healthcare industry. I leveraged my managerial experience at a young age, as well as volunteer activities to showcase my leadership skills and potential. You have leadership experience without being a direct manager; it is a matter of demonstrating it.
What resources and support did your school offer you through the career search?
Our school’s career development office was instrumental in helping me secure both my internship and full-time positions. They had many workshops before or after class on resume writing and how to market yourself at networking events and in interviews. Networking events with alumni were helpful to meet individuals in the community and at companies we were interested in. The most impactful events put on by the career development office were bringing companies to campus to discuss their organizations and open positions. We could meet with alumni, recent full-time hires from MBA programs, as well as recruiters.
How much are you in touch with the alumni network? Are they helpful in making connections with companies? What did you learn about creating and utilizing networks during your MBA?
The alumni network was most helpful for those looking to stay in the area. I would meet with people downtown for coffee during the week between classes. They were always willing to help and refer me to other people in their company based on my interests and career aspirations. I was fortunate to learn the value of a strong network in undergrad. However, it was helpful to have school events to help me grow my network. I was in the career development office weekly asking for alumni contacts in the area to meet with. This helped me feel out different industries and roles.
Advice for Future Applicants
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?
As part of my scholarship, I had to work with a professor. This took up a good amount of time during the week. I was also involved in the consulting club. The club was starting its second year when I joined as the VP of Marketing. We had to determine how we were going to continue to make progress within the club. We spent significant time searching for projects and engaging members. The course work kept me up at night, but it was crucial that I take time during the day and evenings to go to networking events. I competed in a couple case competitions. I wish I had made the time to do more case competitions in my first year. They are a commitment, but definitely worth it. The competitions provide practice for cases in interviews, and it is always fun to get away from the routine on the weekends. Our school hosted happy hours in downtown. Seeing classmates outside of class helped to grow our relationships within our cohort. I have lived in the area since undergrad so I had strong relationships outside of school, so I spent my weekends with friends outside of school. You learn to determine how much time you need to get everything done and still have time to be social. Sundays were my work days, luckily for me I was only interested in the Patriots and did not have to spend all day Sunday watching football. However, if that is what you live for, then you will find another time to get your work done. Everyone finds out what works best for him or her. You will feel overwhelmed, but then you have weeks where you can breathe. It ebbs and flows.
What resources did your MBA program have for international students?
The MBA office set up a Facebook group for the class that included some members from the class above. This helped students who were new to the area ask questions about housing and transportation, as well as help us meet each other. Seminars on networking and its importance in the job search were helpful for students. The career development office also offered mock interviews and resume preparation for students. Having small assigned course groups for the first semester, which was a mix of international and domestic students, enabled everyone to ask questions about the job search, class work, and even what to do on the weekends.
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