Chloe Chapman, MBA '15 from William and Mary, is following her passion of bringing sustainable energy to developing Asia with Empower Generation. Here is the story of her Unconventional MBA!
Career: Director of Operations, Empower Generation
WHY AN MBA?
Q: What is your background? How did your undergraduate and work experience help put you on the path toward an MBA?
A: Before pursuing my MBA, I majored in Psychology at Rutgers University because I was very interested in people and learning about their motivations and behavior. Upon graduating I worked in hospitality to continue to meet new, and interesting people, and traveled throughout Southeast Asia to satisfy my wanderlust before moving to NYC. It was there I was introduced to social entrepreneurship. I joined the Net Impact, NYC Professional Chapter, did a pro-bono consulting project through Service Corps, and worked in operations for a clean-technology workforce development start-up.
Q: Why did you decide to go to Business School and pursue your MBA? What did you hope to get out of the experience?
A: It was while working in my job that I began to understand that my lack of formal quantitative and technical training was holding me back from exceling in my work and that I could better contribute with a master’s degree in business.
I hoped to learn how to create financial models using Excel, analyze data to make strategic decisions and learn best practices to apply in my future career. Also, because I had taken some time to decide my career path, I wanted the jumpstart that I had heard many others had achieved through pursuing their MBA.
CHOOSING A SCHOOL
Q: When choosing a program, what did you look for? How did you arrive at your decision?
A: When choosing a program, the first thing I knew I wanted was for it to be small. My undergraduate school was so large, and one thing I wanted to experience was a closer bond with my teachers and more opportunity to participate in classroom discussions. Other selection factors were the price and location of the program. Lastly, I was drawn to the activities and opportunities available to students interested in social entrepreneurship. Before deciding on the program, I had spoken to a current student about their Net Impact program, the sustainability focus of the Operations course, and the social entrepreneurship conference the school held.
My advice for researching and choosing schools is to learn about what the school, current students and teachers value. These are going to be the people you are surrounded by and who you will be working with for the next two years, and later your alumni network when you are seeking a new position or career.
Q: What extracurricular activities did you take part in on campus?
A: I took part in the Net Impact Club, as first a First Year Representative and then as President. That gave me an opportunity to give back to the community with energy audits and introductions to KivaZip, meet local social entrepreneurs, and hold a fundraiser in the form of a dodgeball tournament. Also, I performed in International Night in various cultural dances and worked as a Community Marketing Ambassador for Venture for America to recruit undergraduates for an entrepreneurial and city revitalizing fellowship program in US cities.
Q: What is the most interesting course you took during your MBA? Was there a specific subject that you thought you wouldn’t enjoy that you ended up being passionate about?
A: The most interesting course was the Career Accelerator Module (CAM) in Entrepreneurship. It was taught by two very passionate professors that brought in their own experience and speakers to speak of their entrepreneurial successes and failures. Throughout this course we learned to design a business plan and pitch it to a room full of ‘investors’.
Accounting was a class I really enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would, and I credit that to my professor. She was very passionate about the subject and her energy was infectious. We learned through hands-on exercises and prepared for exams with a healthy competition of jeopardy.
Q: What resources and support did your school offer you through your career and internship search? Were there opportunities for creative, non-finance or consulting positions?
A: Mason career services waived the cost for a Job Seeker Premium LinkedIn account and offered a stipend to subsidize the cost for students to attend a Career Fair. The tickets, travel and lodging makes it an expensive venture, but the contacts and interview opportunities are very important to the career search. The school also hosted its own networking events to meet recruiters in various sectors. Because I was looking for a social entrepreneurship career, I went to the Net Impact Conference. This is a great opportunity to learn about open positions in companies and organizations you may never had before considered. Tapping into the alumni network is another great way to find opportunities in the field you are interested in.
APPLYING FROM ABROAD
Q: What were the challenges you faced applying internationally? How did you research programs from far away?
A: Because I applied from, South America, I depended on the information provided online and the responses from students, the admissions team, and alumni shared to my emailed questions. As I value human connections and communicating with individuals, my interest in certain programs increased when I received quick, honest, and insightful responses to my inquiries.
My advice is to define the goals for wanting to get an MBA, interacting with the school to find out if the program will help you achieve these goals, and get a feel for the culture of the school because you will be a part of that culture for the rest of your life, as it will be a large part of your professional network.
ADVICE FOR APPLICANTS
Q: How has your MBA influenced your career? What advice do you have for prospective students?
A: The MBA degree has very positively influenced my career. It has added credibility and skillsets to my resume that sets me apart as a serious business woman. My advice is to take classes that challenge you and may help make you more well-rounded in your future career. Also, make the most of your time to network, have fun and work hard.
Q: How did you utilize the school’s alumni network to pursue your chosen field?
A: I was introduced by the Career Center or would reach out via LinkedIn InMails. I did advanced searches with keywords of the department and sector I was interested in.