This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now…introducing Kate Ruckert, a first year student at Northwestern Kellogg.
Accepted: We'd like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent pre-MBA job?
Kate: I grew up in Vienna, Virginia, a suburb just outside of Washington DC. I received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Texas-Austin. I majored in Government and I minored in German. I had a great experience at Texas both in the classroom and on the tennis court. I had some outstanding professors, in particular one of whom is considered an expert on the American Presidency. After graduation, I played professional tennis, competing on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour (WTA Tour). After playing on the tour, I decided that I wanted to pursue other opportunities, prompting me to get my MBA.
Accepted: Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA?
Kate: In order to maximize my opportunity to succeed in “traditional” business, I needed to get an MBA. Building a stronger understanding of business concepts would provide me tremendous value long term. I came to Kellogg with the expectation that I would focus on a career in marketing, with a particular concentration in sports. However, I determined that my strengths were actually better suited for a career in finance. I have enjoyed learning about the market and gaining a deeper perspective for capital budgeting decisions that firms make. I am looking forward to my summer internship as an investment banking associate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. Long term, I hope to have a successful career in investment banking.
Accepted: Can you tell us more about your tennis experience? What's it like to pursue an MBA and a life in the business world alongside your involvement in the WTA?
Kate: Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a professional tennis player. To put so much into a dream and then actually see that dream become a reality was incredibly rewarding to me. I loved the competition, the training, the fitness and of course winning. I think tennis helped me to develop the skills that will serve me throughout my life. From tennis, I gained tenacity, developed a strong work ethic and an inner drive that has helped me flourish at Kellogg.
Accepted: How's Kellogg going so far? What's your favorite thing about the program? Least favorite?
Kate: I have loved my experience at Kellogg. I was excited and proud to have been accepted into the Kellogg program. The actual experience is even better than I expected. There are several things that distinguish Kellogg from other business schools, but the primary one is the people. Kellogg students are incredibly collaborative. They really want to help each other be successful. Kellogg students view each other as assets and they are truly interested in learning from one another. As a result my understanding both inside and outside of the classroom has increased tremendously. I came to Kellogg with no formal business training and I have developed a new lens in which to view the world. In addition, I would say one added benefit of pursuing finance at Kellogg is having the opportunity to work with some outstanding finance professors who are genuinely committed to students’ development.
My least favorite aspect of the program related to me and my lack of experience because in some classes they assume a certain level of expertise which I did not have and had to learn. Consequently, in the first quarter I spent a large amount of time learning the basic concepts and terminology and as a result, probably could not be as engaged as others. Now having spent the time to learn the terminology and the concepts, I have become a better participant in the learning experience.
Accepted: Can you recommend a nice coffee shop on or near campus, a good place to study or hang out with friends?
Kate: I actually find that most people tend to study at the Jake (Jacobs Center). I would also recommend studying at the Starbucks in downtown Evanston. It is one of the nicest Starbucks I have ever been to and it is usually fairly full of students busy studying. I would also suggest Pete’s Coffee and Tea for some studying.
In terms of hanging out, I think a lot of people enjoy going to BAT-17, it is a local restaurant/bar that has really great sandwiches and salads. In my second year, I hope to have a little more free time to explore Chicago.
Accepted: What are your top three tips for MBA applicants?
1) Be yourself. I think that this is one of the most underappreciated areas for prospective students. Be genuine and don’t be afraid of enthusiasm. I think that admissions teams are looking for bright students who are passionate and the best way to convey that is to let your personality shine through.
2) Talk to students at each of the schools you are applying to. I contacted the Women’s Business Association at every school I applied to and spoke with a female student about her experience in the program. I find that students give the most honest practical advice to prospective students. They are a great resource in understanding the culture of the school and how you might fit into the environment.
3) Research the programs you are applying to and see how those programs fit into your future goals.
In closing, I would advise any applicant to realize the incredible opportunity the MBA program affords, opportunities that most people will never get to experience. While the admissions process is difficult, there will be a tremendous sense of appreciation and pride once you are enrolled in the program.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Kellogg see:
• Kellogg 2014 MBA Essay Questions & Tips
• 2013 Kellogg Executive MBA Admissions Tips
Thank you Kate for sharing your story with us!
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This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.