"Don’t be afraid to backtrack and change direction during business school."
Submitted by Julia Yoo, MBA student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management
I’m a Midwestern girl born and raised in Minnesota by Korean immigrant parents. I have a passion for many things – including encouraging more women to go to business school! At Sloan, I was Co-President of the Sloan Women in Management Club. Prior to business school, I worked at the White House Council of Economic Advisers as a Research Economist after graduating from MIT undergrad with a degree in Economics. I have one older sister, Sun-mi, who is my everyday hero and inspiration. I am an avid reader, runner, and writer. If I had to sum up what keeps me going, it would be conviction.
Dream career: I would love to get involved with helping women around the world achieve socioeconomic stability and financial independence.
Why Business School? Leadership development – I wanted to learn how I could become a more effective leader.
Best GMAT study tip? Identify your strengths and weaknesses early, and then tailor your plan of attack accordingly.
Before business school, I was: A Research Economist at the White House.
When I’m not in class, you’ll find me: Outside – running, strolling, or sunbathing.
Advice for anyone thinking about b-school? Seek out advice, early and often, from both current students and alumni at your target schools.
My remedy for pre-test nerves: Exercise and sleep, and reference your highest scoring practice test as a confidence booster.
On the day before your exam, you should: Do yoga and moderate exercise – don’t take a full length practice test, save that energy for D-day.
How did you fit studying for the GMAT exam into your busy schedule? Homemade flashcards – I studied them on my commute to work and whenever I had downtime. I made flashcards out of every question I got wrong on previous practice exams.
How well-prepared for business school do you feel, after studying for the GMAT exam? I first tackled the GMAT, and then I selected schools based on a combination of factors.
Tell the Story of You in Your Business School Application
"I went back and I thought critically about why I chose to go to MIT, why I majored in economics, chose the job that I did, and why I was applying to business school."
"Today, I’m going to reframe the business school application process as a storytelling exercise where you are telling your listener and reader of the application the essence of who you are all in one application. Step one will be first to identify the major milestones in your life. Create a timeline of your life and write down the major inflection points, life decisions, and life events that have led you to where you are today. Step two: connect the dots. Try to understand why you went from point A to point B to point C and the underlying elements, and that is what will capture the essence of who you are. So, for instance, I went back and I thought critically about why I chose to go to MIT, why I majored in economics, chose the job that I did, and why I was applying to business school. Now, step three will be implementation. Boil yourself down into three descriptive words, and try to weave these into the stories that you tell in your application. And then get someone who doesn’t know you as well to review your application and ask them to summarize you in three words. See if those three words align with who you think you are and if it doesn’t, perhaps it’s because it’s not capturing who you truly are and you need to communicate it more effectively or maybe it’s because the three words you originally had in mind are not necessarily the best three words to describe yourself. So, reiterate on steps two and three until you get those to align and you can tell your story effectively, so your reader can walk away understanding the essence of who you are. Have fun and good luck!"
Take a Moment to Reflect on Your Goals Before Business School
"Take a moment of reflection before your first day of school. Take a day or so to reflect on 10 to 20 things you really want to get out of business school. This could be in the form of a list, of a video blog, or a diary entry."
"A question that I frequently get from entering business schools students is what I wish I would’ve known prior to entering business school. And the one piece of advice that I urge all entering business school students to do is to take a moment of reflection before your first day of school. Take a day or so to reflect on 10 to 20 things you really want to get out of business school. This could be in the form of a list, of a video blog, or a diary entry. And after every semester is over, revisit this. Rewatch your video, reread your diary entry, reread your list and see: are you on track? Are you accomplishing the things that you wanted to do? And it’s okay: things will change and this list will evolve, maybe every week, every month. But make sure that you have something at least as a starting point so you are true to yourself and you are on track to accomplishing what you want out of business school."
Optimize Your Business School Experience
"Spend the summer before business just cold calling and cold emailing alums."
"Today I’ll be talking about three things I wish I knew about business school prior to starting. The first thing is definitely time management. Between classes, networking events, and social events, you’ll feel the crunch right away from day one and hit the ground running. So, how I recommend tackling this issue is before starting business school, make a list of priorities and things that you definitely want to get out of business school. And I would separate it into three buckets: career-wise, academic-wise, and social networking-wise. And every semester, go back and look at this list and just see are you on track? Are you accomplishing the things that you want to be doing? And it’s OK for this list to change but just to have some type of anchor and starting point is key. Number two is seeking out advice early and often. So, one thing I did before staring Sloan was I reached out to alumni who either had a similar background to me or had an interesting background that I wanted to speak to and they all gave me very unique and interesting perspectives and I think that’s very very important so spend the summer before business just cold calling, cold emailing alums and just collect. Gather their thoughts, have a list of questions you want to ask them and seek out advice early and often. And this doesn’t stop once you start business school. This is a continuous process, so throughout just don’t be afraid, don’t be shy to reach out. Most of the times the alumni at your school are happy to talk to you, so just don’t be afraid to get advice very often and even before starting business school. And my final piece of advice is don’t be afraid to backtrack and change direction during business school. A lot of my peers came in thinking they wanted to go down one career path and they switched halfway through, or maybe even at the end. And it’s OK that you might not follow the exact trajectory that you intended to, so just keep an open mind have fun while you’re doing it."