Ross interview recap

Image

I recently completed my interview with a really fantastic Ross alumnus in my city. We met at a local coffee house and the interview was very relaxed and conversational without any odd-ball questions. I lucked out big time because the person I was randomly matched with actually wanted to do nonprofit work with her MBA…and she is currently working in the sector! I was itching to get the interview-y part of the meeting done because I had a ton of questions I wanted to ask. We had a really great conversation and I learned a LOT, including summer internship possibilities.

One of the notable things she told me about Ross was that the people there are pretty open minded and I wouldn’t be considered too much of an outlier. That stood out to me because I now understand that (what is being perceived as) the weak aspect of my application is my career goals, and it’s considered “weak” because some admissions committees just…don’t get it. And although animals and MBAs might not be the first two things one would pair together, I’ve been slightly disappointed with how some schools are resisting the idea. Marketing management jobs everywhere–even in the nonprofit, animal welfare sector–prefer MBAs, and it’s frustrating to have to convince admissions committees members of this fact. (The Best Friends Animal Society is currently hiring a Communications Manager. The first line of the job description says, “MBA with concentration in Marketing/Communications is desired.”)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. No matter where I actually end up enrolling for business school, I have a feeling I’ll be crossing paths with my Ross interviewer again in the future. It’s amazing how the bschool application process is already offering me great networking contacts for my career even though I’m not even a student yet! I also now fully realize why people advise applicants to apply for your dream schools last–I think with this final interview, I finally hit my resume walk through out of the park. I’m a future-oriented person, not past-oriented. I don’t spend much of my time lingering on what’s already happened and thinking about what I might have done right or wrong in the past, so I’m just not personally inclined to do a great job at a resume walk through. But after doing four interviews, I can finally say that I think I figured out what my interviewers wanted to hear from me and that it all made sense.

What impresses me most about Ross’ nonprofit support is their Domestic Corps program. Domestic Corps is a fully funded and fleshed out summer internship placement program for opportunities in the nonprofit sector. TheNonprofit and Public Management Center at Michigan gathers together a few nonprofit summer internships and organizes the application process for them–if you decide to apply, the Center reviews all Ross applicants first, then passes on their chosen candidates to the organizations themselves to do final interviewing/selection. Each internship is paid $10,000 for 10 weeks of work, and the opportunities cover a good range of functional areas. The summer internship has been kind of a black hole to me when I think about doing nonprofit work with my MBA–sure, I can understand doing the job search on my own, but the internship aspect seems a bit daunting. Although nonprofits want MBAs, very few have internship programs for bschool students. Domestic Corps is pretty awesome in that it offers specific support in that area.

In other news, I was not invited to interview at Fuqua. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised. I’ve been invited to interview at all the schools I applied to except GSB and Haas, whose selectivity and competitiveness are in a league of their own. I didn’t think Fuqua was in that same category, but who knows what they are thinking? Not being invited to interview is not technically a ding–I guess applicants in the past have been invited to interview in the subsequent round and ultimately admitted–but it’s certainly not a good sign. But I’m also pretty distracted right now and will be through the rest of this week, at least. I’m still waiting to find out if I will get any financial support from Johnson, which will play a huge role in my MBA future.

I want to save animals, so I need an MBA. right?

E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson

The ultimate thing I want to get out of going to business school is possibly getting the chance to finally combine my personal and professional interests into one awesome, challenging job (I’ll say it: Dream Job). I’ve certainly believed in the various causes of the nonprofits I have worked for (and their missions certainly made the work much more meaningful), but none have hit the issues that are near and dear to my heart. I have a few pet causes, but right now I’m focusing on one: Animal welfare.

In another culture, another country and another completely different existence, I may have become something like a naturalist by the time I hit 30. In this parallel life, I’d simply observe natural behavior, ponder it, discover amazing things and write about it (a version of E.O. Wilson, maybe?). I’ve always been drawn to animals and nature, despite the fact that I had little to no exposure to them. A 100% upper-middle-class suburban upbringing doesn’t allow for the nostalgic Americana childhood of catching frogs in ponds and collecting butterflies in jars.

Through various means, I got the idea that caring about animals was unimportant and frivolous. Why save animals when people were suffering and dying all over the world? When I was in college, I told a friend that I had donated money to the World Wildlife Fund. He was horrified that I had chosen to put my resources toward animals when I could have given to so many human-centered charities. In some ways, it was nice to finally hear someone say it out loud. He later became a doctor, by the way, in case you wanted to feel really unsurprised.

So basically, I kind of felt like I had this secret, unworthy passion that was almost…shameful? A lot of this has to do with Asian culture and the immigrant mindset (I’m 2nd gen). When you have a survivalist mentality (like a lot of immigrants do), spending time and money on animals is so far at the bottom of the list that it’s basically not there at all.

It took me around 25 years to Get Over It, at which point I really started to reflect on my life and started wondering how I could possibly wedge this cause into my work. I started poking around on job boards and looking into the kinds of positions were out there that would be possible for me. I also started thinking about the importance of branding when it comes to donations and charity work. Best Friends Animal Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have very different brands, don’t you think? A person might give to one and not the other. And–tada!–I found the area that overlapped all my interests and skills into one. Still not clear? I’m not 100% clear, either, but I think I’m on the right track. To be continued…