Armond Hodge earned his MBA from UConn School of Business. Hear his advice for future MBA applicants!
Name: Armond Hodge
School: MBA, UConn School of Business, The University of Connecticut
Profession: Financial Development Rotation Program, Gartner, Inc.
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 always knew I wanted to obtain my MBA after receiving my Bachelors. Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to work at a small telecommunications company where I had direct exposure to the C-Suite and VPs of the company. Both my boss, as well as the CEO, had their MBAs from Columbia. Interacting with them daily, I quickly realized that the dialogue, decision making ability and sound business knowledge embedded in their professional skills was missing from my portfolio and could only be acquired from business school. In addition, after working for a span of six years, I reached a point in my career where I exhausted my current skill-set and wasn’t going to grow where I had been last employed. The only logical step both professionally and personally was to attend business school full time.
Getting an MBA is not for everyone. Make sure to fully assess where you are not only in your career but also in life: Ultimately, what you are looking to do and what is required to bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be. Do give yourself time to adequately prepare for business school. Work for a few years, build your personal brand, grow your professional networks, and figure out what you do and don’t like. When it comes time to start application essays and answering, “Why Our School and Why Now," you will have more than enough examples to draw from, share and explain.
What was the biggest challenges of pursuing your MBA?
The GMAT was, by far, the most annoying and frustrating part of my journey towards getting into b-school. However, stay positive and keep your eye on the end-goal. Remember, if anything [The GMAT] were easy, then everyone would be doing it [attending business school].
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?
During my time at UConn, I established and served as President of the School’s Graduate Finance Association. During my last year in business school, I co-taught an undergraduate Intro to Finance class. Serving as a mentor and tutor to undergraduate students majoring in Finance, Economics and Business Management (helping them develop career skills and engaging with them on a daily basis) was such an amazing experience. Outside of UConn I volunteered as a financial consultant for a STEM-based 501(c) non-profit organization helping the company build financial reporting metrics. In addition, I volunteered as a mentor to local high school students, helping them build solid foundations towards financial awareness and literacy. As a result of my strong academics, actions and community outreach, I was inducted into the University of Connecticut’s School of Business Hall of Fame.
Ultimately, time management is key. However, I have always been the type to be involved in a lot. That’s what keeps me going. As a result, balancing my time with initiatives that I love doing becomes a non-factor.
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?
I became closer to the Alumni Relations Department during the time when I founded the Graduate Finance Association and we started to host events that brought alumni back to our campus to engage with students. My personal relationship with the Alumni Relations Department went beyond just reaching out to them to help us with our events. This is something that should be on the top of anyone’s list of things to get out of their MBA experience; access and engagement to the alumni community. The Director of Alumni Relations and his staff are essential to UConn’s School of Business's success (both at the graduate and undergraduate levels), future growth and development.
As with any professional network, once you make connections keep the momentum going and continue to add value from both ends of the spectrum (as a student and as an alumni).
Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?
First off, the Career Development Office and the resources they provided me with were invaluable. There was always time to schedule mock interviews, have my resume critiqued, or just randomly show up and talk about career and life related issues. These experiences helped me successfully land a summer internship during my first semester at UConn with Gartner; the company at which I am currently employed. Overall, my internship was exactly what I was seeking in my post-MBA employer and position. My internship experience helped me acquire a deeper understanding towards what it means and feels like to be a finance leader who has a vision to carry out while accomplishing mission critical priorities; something that I was lacking early in my finance career. It was a no-brainer when Gartner offered me the full-time position, just one month after having completed my internship.
Advice for Future Applicants
What are some do’s and don’ts during the MBA preparation process?
- Do buy the book “How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs”. I had this book given to me from a dear friend who leveraged it during his MBA application process. Hands down, this book will walk you through everything you need to know and serve as a guide on anything; from selecting schools to preparing for your first day.
- Do speak to colleagues, mentors and others who are in and have been in the same situation as you. Seek input from others on the pros and cons of part-time versus full-time; general MBA versus selecting a concentration. The more information you can receive, the better prepared you’ll be towards what you are seeking from an MBA.
- Don’t wait to take and prepare for the GMAT. Tackle this test early and be smart about it. If it’s the weakest part of your portfolio, take the time to improve and invest in it.
- Don’t be nervous or think you can’t get your MBA. The road to obtaining one is a marathon, not a sprint.
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