Aamna Qureshi, student at UConn School of Business, is pursuing an MBA after working in the education industry for eight years. Learn how her MBA experience has driven her to pursue a career in the biopharmaceutical industry.
Name: Aamna Qureshi
School: MBA, UConn School of Business
Originally from: Shelton, CT
Career Plans: I'm looking forward to working in the biopharmaceutical industry.
How have your classmates influenced your MBA experience?
The cohort at UConn is exceptionally diverse. Students are coming from a range of industries and from around the U.S. and world. I truly benefited from working alongside people with backgrounds different than my own; it helped me broaden my perspective, appreciate cultural differences, and experience different approaches to problem solving.
How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you? What advice do you have for students considering an MBA on how to make that decision?
Having been in education for eight years, first as a teacher and then as director of a grant-funded program, I knew switching industries would be challenging. I struggled to get noticed when applying for jobs in other industries, and so I decided it was time to get my MBA. I knew I’d have immediate access to new networks, to a support team in the business program’s staff, and to companies connected to the business school. I was apprehensive about being a career switcher with little formal “business” experience and so my advice to those who want to switch industries- the MBA will give you a solid foundation to pursue a different career path.
What is something that you learned that was unexpected?
As someone who spent most of her career in the liberal arts, I was apprehensive about the perceived quantitative demands of an MBA program. I was glad to experience that being successful in an MBA program requires so much more than quantitative or technical skills. They are certainly helpful and valuable, but many of those skills will be learned in class, during the internship, and on the job. Having strong communication skills and the ability to look at problems from different perspectives, to think strategically, to be able to work on teams- these are equally important as quantitative skills, if not more.
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?
I truly wish someone had told me not to worry so much about the GMAT. This is undoubtedly an important aspect of the application, but a number can’t tell your story alone. I got great advice from a friend, who had gone through the application process, on how to tell my story through the essay requirements of the application. Ask qualified people to give you feedback on the essays.
Do you have an internship during your MBA? How has that experience influenced your education and career?
I interned with Alexion Pharmaceuticals, an ultra-rare disease bio-pharmaceutical company during my MBA. Prior to beginning the MBA, I had not even thought about working in the healthcare or pharmaceutical industries, but am so grateful to have had the experience, and I’ll be joining them full time after graduation. It was interesting to experience how different marketing looks like in the ultra-rare disease space. Pharmaceuticals are also highly regulated, and so often that forces the marketing team to go above and beyond with their creativity, as there is so much that simply can’t be done due to regulations. In general, the internship is also valuable because you apply what you learn in year one and then have an incredible experience to draw upon during courses in year two.
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