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Aiming for the C-Suite With an Executive MBA Degree

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In the fall of 2017, Amanda Michetti found herself midway through a master’s degree in Middle East studies at George Washington University and needing to make a critical pivot A cross-disciplinary course in the business school had convinced her that she should in fact be pursuing an MBA.

Michetti’s journey to joining the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Executive MBA Class of 2021 took almost a year and a half, but today, she’s fully bought in. Read on to learn more about why Michetti chose Darden, how she approached the Executive Assessment exam, and how her degree is helping her achieve her five-year plan.

What made you decide to pursue an MBA?

My undergraduate degree is in Middle East studies and Arabic, and I moved to Jordan for two years after college. When I came back to the United States, I worked for a company that taught foreign languages to kids, and I ran small business units, basically little language centers. It was a full-blown general-management-type experience. I really gained some practical business skills and realized I have a knack for this, and I really have a passion for optimizing the business.

While in the master’s program at George Washington University, I took a strategy class in business and the case method through the GW business school, and once I got to that class, I realized I was in the wrong program. I said to myself: I need to go to business school.

It took me about a year and a half to apply and I vetted the Darden opportunity pretty extensively, but I wanted an MBA because of the versatility—I could literally do anything with an MBA.

Why did you choose the Executive MBA program at the UVA Darden School of Business?

When I heard about Darden’s Executive MBA program in Rosslyn, Virginia, it was the answer to my prayers because it was a top institution close to home, and it wouldn’t require me to leave my job or relocate.

But what really caught my attention was the people. I could feel the energy, the positivity and the excitement from the people who I talked to. I was sold based on those conversations. I’m big on energy and vibes and how I can connect with people, so this was really, really important for me.

Also, as a practical matter, we graduate with an MBA certificate from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. There is no “executive” prefacing “MBA” on my certificate, so that’s another huge differentiator for anybody who is considering executive MBAs. There’s no differentiation between the executive program and the full-time residential program at Darden and they make sure that the programs are equal, regardless of your type of enrollment.

What admissions exam did you take and why? What study tips can you share? I took the Executive Assessment. It’s very convenient for people like me who are working full-time. The main reason I opted for this exam was the minimal number of hours needed to prepare for it.

I definitely needed to study though, and my advice to anybody who is considering the Executive Assessment is to buy the prep resources and do the practice problems. I would also recommend taking a full practice exam. The Executive Assessment is so efficient and quick that it’s over before you know it. It’s a 90-minute exam: three 30-minute sections. I would have benefited from doing a practice to figure out what pace to set for myself.

I actually learned about the Executive Assessment at a GMAT™ info session, and the woman running it shared that the Executive Assessment measures how a student is likely to perform in business school. That made it a little bit less intimidating for me, somebody who really dislikes standardized testing and has never really tested that well. I did pretty well on this, and it gave me confidence going into the program, knowing that this was an indicator of how I would actually perform. I thought, ‘If I can hack the exam, I can hack business school!’

What has been the most valuable part of your business school experience so far?

I have really enjoyed spending time and getting to know my classmates and everyone who is part of the Darden network. I enjoy the classes, the content and the material that we cover, but the connections, that’s really what is going to propel my career. Having the opportunity to just be in the same room as so many smart, amazing, dedicated, passionate people who are invested in my success and I’m invested in theirs, that is really powerful and special.

What are your post-graduation career goals?

I aspire and expect to be an executive in the C-suite, hopefully in the next five years or so. I am definitely drawn to the startup world. I think that’s a really fascinating, really exciting place to be. Coming out with my MBA, I think I can bring a lot of value to an organization that is in the startup phase, and I think there’s a lot of really positive impact that I could have. Alternatively, I would love to start my own company and I do anticipate that I’ll do that at some point in my career.

If you’re considering b-school, take this interactive quiz to find out if an MBA or an Executive MBA is right for you.