David Hurtado, MBA student at Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business, describes his experience as an international student and gives tips on how to prepare for an MBA program.
Name: David Hurtado
School: MBA, SMU Cox School of Business
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia
Profession: Citigroup, Country Head of Financial Planning for Colombia pre-MBA; seeking a career in Management Consulting
What are some activities you are involved with outside of class? How do you balance your time?
I served as the president of the consulting club, an opportunity that allowed me to share my experience in building a consulting profile and navigating the recruiting scene with my classmates. I also served as the Honor Council co-chair, a Student Advisor, and a member of the International Business Club. These roles offered the opportunity for tremendous personal growth and allowed me to encourage positive change and development in other student’s lives. Sometimes the time commitment to these roles was overwhelming, but in my regard, course work was just half of the MBA experience. The networking and mentorship opportunities are just as valuable. By assuming leadership roles and taking the opportunity to positively influence your classmates in ways such as by preparing them for interviews or facilitating cultural adaptation, you are not only giving back, but putting to the test your potential as a future leader in your business and community.
What has been your favorite classroom experience?
I’ve quite enjoyed course-work that provided a hands-on component with firms in the Dallas area. This allowed me to put to the test what I learned in class and to expand my professional network in meaningful ways. I am particularly looking forward to be part of the Private Equity and Venture Capital Practicum next Spring. This will be an amazing opportunity to put to the test what I have learned in and outside the classroom during my MBA while adding further relevant experiences on my resume.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue an MBA? What inspired you? Did you pursue your MBA in order to switch careers?
Until a year ago, my career had revolved exclusively around Latin America. This provided me with outstanding learning experiences across industries resulting from challenges not easily available in developing markets. Nonetheless, pursuing an MBA in the United States granted me access to an unparalleled set of industries and organizational cultures that have made out of my MBA an outstanding experience. I believe a well rounded MBA means more than having a wide theoretical scope, it means being able to make a significant contribution based hands-on experience across multiple regions and industries. Pursuing an MBA in Dallas provided me with such opportunity as I was able to explore the Tech space in the bay area as well as the venture capital space in Texas.
Do you have an internship during your MBA? How does that experience influence your education and career?
I interned with PwC as a management consultant in Silicon Valley. My professional background prior to this internship was comprised mostly of corporate finance and data analytics. Thus, being exposed to operations in the technology space was an exciting experience that allowed me to broaden my business acumen. What I found to be the most rewarding was seeing in real time how my MBA had allowed me to build a bridge between my past experience and my new role. I was able to learn as much as I was able to contribute. Learning by the day and leveraging the work of others has been very enjoyable during my MBA and I aspire to make the same out of my professional experiences afterwards.
Advice for Future Applicants
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?
Be self-aware and understand your strengths. As international students, we are mostly unaware of how many unique experiences are embedded in our professional background resulting from having the advantage of coming from a different culture. Deep understanding of foreign markets, longer average professional experience and multilingualism are good examples. They will give you an edge to stand out during the application process, allowing you to compensate as you adapt to living in the United States.
Try to avoid isolating yourself from the local culture. As you get closer to your american classmates you’ll improve your social proficiency and be more mindful of your opportunities for improvements and your comparative advantages. It’s all about knowing your strengths and making the best out of them.
What are some dos and don’ts in the MBA preparation process?
Have a plan. For those students who come after an MBA knowing what they want to do, as well as for those who don’t, an MBA will prove to be an eye-opening experience. We are exposed to lines of work, organizations and opportunities that we didn’t consider before. One day you are considering banking, the next one non-profit. Hesitation is part of the process, but to better navigate this overwhelming set of opportunities having a plan is crucial. You can change it any time, but having a clear goal (even if temporary or unlikely) will keep you moving forward through your MBA. Regarding the don’ts. Do not underestimate the timeline. Two years seem like a long time, but classes and recruiting move very fast. As long as you keep you target dates in mind, it will be harder for you to miss an opportunity. Rely on you second year classmates to deep dive on the dates and recruiting nuances of the industries you want to explore.
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