On February 13, 2020, I woke up incredibly early and took an Amtrak train from Washington, DC to Connecticut. My stomach twisted as we approached New Haven; I was so exhausted that I left my jacket on the train. As I walked out of the station, my nerves started to take hold. What the hell was I thinking? Did I really think I had a chance to get admitted to Yale School of Management? Who messed up and sent me an interview invitation?
A month later, the world would be very different. March 13 was my last day of in-person work at the Council on Foreign Relations before leaving indefinitely remotely due to COVID. It was also the day I received the call for admissions to SOM that would change my life. In February, I was completely unaware of the severity of COVID and had no idea at all if I would be attending an MBA program, let alone my first choice.
BONDING ON PIZZA
Yale SOM is an incredibly intimidating institution, and I got more and more nervous as my Uber pulled me closer to campus. Almost immediately after setting foot in Evans Hall, my fears began to ease. I lost track of how many people I met who mentioned that they never planned to go to business school (neither did I!), And how many feared they would not be successful on the plan. school (me too!).
The day before my interview, a number of potential and current students met at a local bar and pizzeria (the heart of New Haven culture) and spent hours talking about SOM, the MBA experience. and life in general. A student I had spent about an hour talking to said to me, “I know you’re nervous, because I was you last year, but you’re going to have a great career no matter what. tomorrow’s interview. Then he joked that he was a hypocrite because he was stressed out by the ongoing recruitment process. It was so refreshing to speak with someone who wasn’t trying to sell me their MBA program, but genuinely reassures me. I also appreciated his humility in admitting that the nerves don’t stop even after starting an MBA at a top school.
I am often asked to describe the culture of SOM, which is no small feat given the size of the class. In general, however, my classmates at SOM are down-to-earth, collaborative, humble, and thoughtful. As I meet more and more classmates, I am struck by the impression and diversity of their backgrounds. One of my closest friends, Matt Archuleta, was featured in the New York Times recently for his service in Afghanistan. However, I almost always forget how much of a rock star he is because we spend most of our time talking about private equity recruiting or his adorable two-year-old.
WRITE ABOUT MY WEAKNESS
While it is true that SOM students are down to earth, SOM explicitly seeks students who are deeply motivated and able to demonstrate their passion through action. In its application, SOM asks applicants to describe the greatest commitment they have ever made. To many other applicants, and certainly to me, the prompt is not reminiscent of a single experience and therefore can seem intimidating. My longest tenure before SOM was three years; I hadn’t even stayed in college for the standard four years because I had graduated earlier to save money. I proudly consider myself a hobbyist, and felt like I hadn’t done anything impressive enough to say that I had made a big commitment. SOM was the first school I knew I was definitely going to apply for. Because it took me so long to prepare for my candidacy, I had more than two years to turn the question of engagement in my head.
I ended up writing about the area of ââmy application which seemed to me to be my greatest weakness: quantitative preparation. I wrote this even though I was not born with a natural aptitude for mathematics. Yet I took difficult math electives in college (even when I wasn’t good at it), took jobs that were outside of my comfort zone and relied heavily on reasoning. quantitative, and I embarked on GMAT preparation once I decided that an MBA was good. for me. Looking back, it was a huge risk to focus my essay on one area of ââweakness, one that I had been asked to minimize. In the end, this strategy helped set me apart.
I would encourage future SOM students who don’t know how to approach the essay prompt to focus on something that feels authentic. I couldn’t have written a strong essay on an engagement that didn’t seem important to me – and nothing suggested by anyone else seemed really important to me. I know that while you are working on application trials it can be exhausting. But by doing some real and honest reflection during the essay writing process, you will find that it will help you focus on your deepest values ââduring the program itself. The process even helped me refine my post-MBA goals. If I wrote the same essay now, I would say without a doubt that deciding to come to SOM is the biggest commitment I have ever made. I’m so glad I did.
Claire Masters is a second year student at the Yale School of Management in Nyack, New York. Prior to SOM, she worked at Moody’s and the Council on Foreign Relations, and interned at Hillhouse Capital. At SOM, she is involved in race equity efforts, investment management and admissions.