Why Business School? Ask Danielle
Learn about Danielle's journey from undergrad to MBA.
Name: Danielle Hunt
Graduate School: Kelley School of Business - Indiana University
Program: 2 year full-time MBA
Undergraduate School/College: Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario
Undergraduate major: Honours in Business Administration
Tell us about yourself:
I grew up in the Bahamas to Jamaican parents; parents who were both hardworking, caring and selfless. At the age of 16, my parents encouraged me to leave the beach for snow. Well for university and diversity, really. After receiving a Bachelors in Business Administration, I moved to Costa Rica for a few months to pursue my love for learning Spanish. Majority of my career was spent at a local nonprofit, of which my most recent title was Director of Finance and Operations. I consider myself privileged as throughout my childhood and adulthood, I have traveled to roughly twenty countries and with each trip become even more passionate about visiting and learning more about different countries and cultures.
Why Business School?
The right time to pursue it came when I finally realized my passion for strategy and entrepreneurship. I researched career opportunities that would allow me to utilize these skills and through this process discovered brand management; I would not be able to transition into this career without an MBA. Unlike many advanced degrees, an MBA is one of, if not, the only degree that allows one to switch his or her career drastically as well as work in international markets; both of which are desirable to me. The beauty of an MBA is that is possible to switch from finance to marketing even 10 years after graduating with an MBA and this flexibility characteristic is amazing.
What was your career before business school?
I spent most of my career working at a local nonprofit, Scottdale Early Learning, in the metro-Atlanta area.
Who had the biggest influence on your decision to pursue an MBA?
When I was an undergraduate student, my mother convinced me that I should take a business class because as a young adult I had summer businesses and enjoyed it. I enjoyed the course and therefore applied to attend the business school at my undergraduate University. A few years after graduating, my mother reminded me of my potential and encouraged me that it was never too early to start studying for my GMAT.
Once you decided on business school, how did you establish your approach?
I divided my online research approach into two buckets – getting an acceptable GMAT score and understanding different programs to know which ones met my needs and I would excel in. I also utilized school representatives and conferred with friends of friends who had received their MBA to refine my approach.
What organizations did you work with or tap into to help you along your journey?
As a Forte Foundation member, I utilized their professional development webinars prior to starting the MBA process and attended their MBA fairs during my application process. Through participating in the Forte MBALaunch program I received a mentor who recently graduated and helped me decide next steps when I got accepted. The most valuable aspect for me was the community I formed with other women in my city who were also in the program.
I also utilized the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) to help me along with my journey. While attending one of their MBA Application Preparation seminars, I expanded my support network with other MBA minority candidates and continued to speak with more Admission Directors. I also used the common application that allowed me to apply to more than one school in less time, but a more cost-efficient way.
What has been the most rewarding part of your b-school journey so far?
One of the most rewarding parts of the journey so far has been working with likeminded students invested in paying it forward for other minorities to have similar opportunities.
How has your decision impacted those around you?
One of the greatest positive impacts in me pursuing my MBA has been that I have inspired others to pursue higher education and/or focus on finding a career that truly made them happy.
What have you learned that you wished you’d known earlier?
One thing that I wished I knew earlier is that just because a company is listed as hiring on-campus at a school, that does not mean that a company hires at your school for the function that you are interested. It is important to ask the right questions about companies listed as hiring so that you know what to fully expect. Although I do believe that you should pick a school that fits your education goals, given this fact, if your lifetime goal is to work at a particular company you may want to add certain schools to your consideration list.
What advice would you give other minorities who are interested in an MBA?
For most people, it is not an easy process, but for all it becomes one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. There are many great programs – for example, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, The Riordon Programs, Toigo Foundation, Forte Foundation, and the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management – that are out there to help you through the MBA application process and beyond. Utilize them – they are there to help you win!
Once you get into school, know that there will be a small minority of people who will think that you only got to where you are today because the school needed to increase its minority numbers. However, do not let anyone make you feel that you are not as qualified as them; schools only accept people who they know will succeed. The worst thing to do is to hermit yourself; speak up and contribute in class so that people will respect you for what you bring to the table. It also is easy to hang with people who are most like you, however, we live in a global society and it is important to become friends with many of your classmates who are different from you. Business school is a perfect, safe place to learn about other cultures and teach others about yours – use it to your advantage. And most importantly, be proud of your accomplishments and pay it forward!