We decided to follow up with some of our past MBA blogger interviewees to see where their admissions journey brought them. First in our series is Engeda Selemon Asfaw, also known as “The Senator,” author of the blog, “Road to the MBA Class of 2014” and first year student at Dartmouth Tuck. The original interview with The Senator can be found here.
Accepted: Is b-school anything like what you expected?
The Senator: In some respects yes, but in several no. Let me explain, I expected to be around extraordinarily talented and friendly people that would be partners in learning with me. I also expected to get a well-rounded education while also fitting in time for socializing. Tuck has certainly exceeded these expectations. Some things I did not expect, however, like the total lack of time, sacrifice of things that you would normally take for granted and difficulties in keeping in contact with friends and family. The academics are rigorous to begin with, but then you add on hockey, socializing and recruiting, and your time is no longer yours.
Accepted: What other programs had you considered in addition to Tuck? What tipped the scales to favor Tuck?
The Senator: I strongly considered Kellogg and Wharton, as well as Cornell, but what I found at Tuck was that the people and the environment are truly special and unique. I always thought I'd want to go to Wharton because, well it's Wharton, but that didn't seem to matter as much when I started interacting with students across all of the elite schools. I always brushed it off when people said, "The rankings don't matter, make your decision on fit," I thought it was lip-service. In actuality it's pretty honest advice – and I followed that advice to a T. I distinctly remember a conversation with my mentor, a Wharton MBA, who gave me this tidbit, "If you're getting your MBA to get the degree and add pedigree then go to Wharton. But if you're going to school to have a rich experience go to Dartmouth." I'm more than happy with my decision.
Accepted: Can you tell us about Morgan Stanley's 2-Day Early Insights MBA program?
The Senator: Early Insights is a great program for underrepresented minorities, women, LGBT and military personnel. If you're at all interested in Banking, Sales & Trading or Capital Markets, then programs like Early Insights and the Inspiring Excellence Forum (Barclays) are a must. The information you'll get is great. But more importantly you're getting a significant jump start on recruiting, and that's the key. Recruiting (and subsequently getting close listed) is your first and foremost goal as a first year. As you build up to interviews, events like Early Insights are just as important as the technical acumen you'll gain from academics. It's also nice that a lot of people at MS already knew me when I stepped foot on campus; had it not been for Early Insights I wouldn't have had that advantage. I got in the door early and maintained my relationships with MS and I've had success in recruiting with the firm.
Accepted: What's your favorite class so far?
The Senator: Great question. Before I answer I just want to say that the professors at Tuck are phenomenal – that was one of the pleasant surprises that exceeded my expectations. In terms of classes, this may sound a bit awkward, but I really enjoyed my accounting class. Sure the subject matter was a bit dry but my professor, Leslie Robinson, made the information accessible and palatable. The other thing was that she recognized that accounting is like pulling teeth and made sure to maintain a light atmosphere in the class. In undergrad, my experience with accounting was awful. My undergrad professor was not good (sorry Carlson School) and it was taught for CPAs not for Joe Average. It left a sour taste in my mouth that I wanted to desperately hold onto until this past Fall. So from a subject matter standpoint, initially accounting left a lot to be desired, but Professor Robinson made it an awesome experience for me – to the point where I enjoy breaking down financial statements.
Accepted: Are there any nice coffee shops that you would recommend as prime study or hangout spots?
The Senator: Another good question. Prime hangout spot for Tuckies is Murphy's or Canoe Club. I wouldn't say much studying goes on there. But something much more important happens…if you visit Hanover I can personally show you.
Accepted: I know Minnesota Carlson was undergrad and Tuck is now graduate, but other than that, can you talk about some of the differences between these two programs (i.e. style of teaching, campus, student life)?
The Senator: I'd say the biggest difference outside of the setting would be the professors, the teaching style and the recruiting process. Carlson's approach to teaching is to use practitioners in the classroom a lot more than PhDs (for undergrad and grad) – I thought this was great for an undergrad experience but for a graduate program the intellectual rigor you get from the Tuck professors is stimulating. Carlson is widely regarded for experiential (hands-on) learning and I think they do a great job of providing those opportunities. I see Tuck using a more balanced approach to learning. We use a mix of lecture, case and experiential. I'm not saying one is better than the other at all, but it's a clear distinction. Finally, recruiting. The University of Minnesota is a regional school, and believe me they take advantage of the presence of Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities, but if you are looking to work outside of the Midwest, your search is going to be challenging. For a small program, Tuck's reach is broad and powerful – you can basically get a job in any industry and most major companies.
Accepted: Have you already taken steps towards securing a summer internship? What role does Tuck play in the process?
The Senator: Recruiting for the summer is on! Investment Banking recruiting at Tuck starts the second week in September. It's super intense but very rewarding if you do it right. Tuck takes a very personalized approach to each student's career goals. I sat down with my career counselor early and identified which banks would be a good fit for me and how I should spend my time recruiting with them. All of the major bulge bracket banks recruit at Tuck; Credit Suisse may be the only exception. There are also several middle market and boutiques that recruit on campus. Most of the banks come up for info sessions, dinners, office hours, etc. One of the nice things about being here is that you get actual face time with the bankers as opposed to superficial interactions. At the end of December our closed lists came out and in the second to last week in January I'll hopefully have an offer.
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