An Interview with a recent alumna from Harvard Business School.
Christina Appleton studied psychology and sociology as an undergrad at Northwestern University. She talked about her experience applying to Harvard Business School. Since completing her degree, Christina spent two years at Fox Sports as a marketing manager. Read the first part of her interview here.
What prompted you to pursue an MBA at the point in your career/life that you did?
Getting my MBA was part of the program that I was in at General Mills. When I accepted the position (brand management) in the fall of my senior year at Northwestern University I knew that it would be three one-year rotations and then off to B-school. If I/they chose the sponsorship route, it would be back for three additional years after getting my MBA.
Once it was clear I would not be coming back to Mills, I had to do a bit of searching to see if it was still the right move for me. Fortunately I had already gotten into school so I figured it was worth checking out.
How did you address weaknesses in your MBA application?
I knew that I had a pretty strong application and MBA essays going in because of the uniqueness of my pre-MBA program at General Mills. This unique work experience paired with the support I had from GMI like my GMAT prep course, helpful alumni, guidelines for how to optimize my application really helped me put my best foot forward.
What were the most important qualities you looked for in an MBA program? Having completed the program, do you still feel that those qualities are the most important or do you have new insight?
I really focused on top programs that had a worldwide reputation. I wanted to attend a school that had a high caliber of students and professors, but that were also fun and approachable. I wanted a program that I thought would challenge me both academically and socially and expose me to things that I had never seen before. Ultimately you are attending b-school for the alumni network, so I definitely took the alums that I knew into account.
I think that those things are still important. I am only a few years out, but the two most important things that I have gotten from my time at HBS is the network (both close friends and colleagues and the broader sense of the term) and the reputation of the HBS brand.
What was the most challenging part of the application for the school you attended (or any of the schools you applied to)? How did you handle it?
The most challenging part of any application that I did was for the Stanford MBA essays–it’s a pretty open-ended question that is the majority of your application. The alums that I spoke to said that there had to essentially be teardrops on the page or else you weren’t getting in. It’s really not my style to lay it all out there so this was a big challenge for me.
What do you think helped you the most in your applications?
I was most helped by the assistance and support of my colleagues who had attended the programs for which I was applying. Their guidance and reassurance really helped me gain the confidence I needed to get the job done.
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