February 14, 2020

Avoid the Ding: How to Put Your Best Foot Forward During the Application Process

Vaibhav Khurana is an MBA- MSM Finance candidate at Weatherhead School of Management and graduates in May 2021.
From attending webinars and seminars, reaching out to faculty and current students, writing and re-writing essays, we do it all when we are applying to graduate programs of our choice. Each program requires a certain amount of effort for completing the application. But imagine after the long process, checking all the boxes and still getting rejected, or as in business school language we call getting “dinged”. It can be painful!

The good news is, this happens to most of us. I have been through my fair share of rejections when I applied to some programs and understand this feeling completely. But now, I am on other side of the table.

I work with the admissions department at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as MBA Admissions Ambassador. My work involves talking with prospective candidates to answer any queries they may have about the school, program, or even Cleveland! Working in this position has provided me with an opportunity to learn how candidates are evaluated and why program “fit” plays an extremely important role.

I want to share some of my learnings that I hope you will apply so that you do not get “dinged” from your dream program.

Reach out to the network: A graduate program receives multiple admissions applications. Depending on the program you are applying for, your direct competition for one seat in the program can be anywhere from three to as many as 10 applicants! It is important to stand out. One way to achieving this is by talking to current students and alumni from the program and learning about the program. Once you have done that, do not forget to mention about those conversations in your essays! Doing so solidifies your interest in the program, and will give you insights about the program that you won’t get from just searching online!
Research before you reach out: While reaching out is important, be sure to thoroughly research the program first. Don’t spend your conversation time on asking questions for which you could have found answers by doing a simple Google search, such as asking information about median age of class, class size, and even median salary of last graduating batch! Almost all programs offer this information on their website.
Remember to be professional, respectful and courteous: One of the most common mistakes I see candidates make is forgetting to be courteous. Make sure your emails requesting information or time for calls are written in courteous manner. And most importantly, be very professional when you are talking to the people that you have reached out to. This means while asking questions, you must maintain decorum and be respectful at all times. Every interaction you have with your program, whether email or phone call, factors in when the admissions department sits to go over your application. Not being respectful, even to a current student, can have a far reaching negative impact on your candidacy.
Work according to their time: Everyone is busy! While this includes you, it also includes the person who you reach out to call. Be very respectful of their time, especially if you are in different time zone. Make sure the time you suggest for call is not at a difficult hour for the other person. That means if you have to stay up late or get up half hour early, do that! You are the one requesting time from someone else. You should always look out for their comfort over yours.
Don't forget thank you notes!: As cliché as it sounds, thank you notes are ALWAYS appreciated! Whether an email or a hand written note, thank you notes show you are considerate person. Many candidates forget to send thank you notes after a call, and that is a missed opportunity. Don’t forget to highlight a point from your conversation which can help the person you called remember you and give positive feedback about your candidacy to the admissions department.
While these may seem like simple tips, it is surprising how many candidates I see not following them. Next time you make a call or reach out to someone, make sure you follow these simple tips and reduce your chances of getting “dinged”!

December 9, 2019

Beyond Silicon Valley – Connecting Students in Cleveland to Entrepreneurs in Venezuela

Sydney Wagner, a junior accounting major at Weatherhead, is participating in the Beyond Silicon Valley course taught by Associate Professor Michael Goldberg. The course is part of Case Western Reserve University SAGES, which is an undergraduate seminar program.  This semester, the course partners students with entrepreneurs in Venezuela to learn about their ventures and how they are building their business in the struggling economy.  

Q: Describe the entrepreneur from Venezuela you were paired with. What does he/she do, what challenges does he/she face?
My entrepreneur was Daniela Court. She and her business partner, Valentina Gordon, started Bee∙nené, a clothing brand for ‘nenés’ that transforms babies into little mini adults with a European style. In the face of the crisis, they have experienced electric failures, water shortages, and spotty internet that has halted their business and the businesses that work for them. These changes have created an entrepreneurial environment susceptible to failure, but Daniela and Valentina have not slowed down on accomplishing their dreams. They are even starting to see some great trends in their business this year. Amazingly, Daniela and Valentina provided their own capital from past jobs to start Bee∙nené which is often one of the most challenging parts.

    Q: What is one thing you learned from this class so far that has surprised you or interested you the most?
I loved learning so much about a country that I knew nothing about before. Venezuela is a topic that you just keep learning about. And we learned so much more than just Venezuela’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We got to learn how Venezuelans  survive and the struggles they face. Mostly, I think this class has taught me how interconnected we are as people. The speakers and Venezuelan entrepreneurs were so considerate to talk to us about their passions and the struggles they’ve faced. It was also amazing to have a group of Venezuelan Cohorts available so we could teach each other about our countries.
   Q: What new concepts have you learned in the class and through this project that might stick with you the most or carry with you?
I think I will focus on the tools and resources that entrepreneurs could use to build their business. I think most of the time, entrepreneurs do not always know the resources available but throughout this semester, we have gone through types of assistance for entrepreneurs. As a future entrepreneur, those resources will stay with me until I need them. We also got a chance to network with many different professionals and that experience will stick with me throughout my entire professional career.
   Q: Why has this class been such a unique experience for you?
It’s such an interactive class. The speakers were always a highlight for me. The speakers were diverse and all highly educated professionals that just motivated me to get to a point like that someday. The things that this class does is just so inspiring. It’s amazing that this class and Professor Goldberg can bring together a diverse and inviting community. I think we all feel a little bit of a connection to Venezuela after this class and will be rooting for a bright future for the country.

October 28, 2019

An Eye-Opening Trek to the West Coast

By: Parv Sud

Over fall break, I had the opportunity to travel with some of my classmates to the San Francisco Bay Area. The trip was part of the Innovation Trek, a newly founded program through the Weatherhead School of Management with the help from Weatherhead alumni Anand Swaminathan, Laura Swaminathan, and Joe Mandato. 

The trek was designed as a discovery visit to help students interested in Innovation and Entrepreneurship see first-hand the opportunities that exist, and to help strengthen the alumni-student relationship in the Bay Area. During the course of our trip, we visited the offices of several major businesses: from small scale ventures founded by CWRU alum such as Apartment List and KiwiCo up to large companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and eBay!

As a senior chemical engineering major minoring in business management who is looking to work in the Bay Area post-graduation, this trek was a remarkable experience. Having the opportunity to interact with a variety of businesses gave me an insight into the work culture each one of them had. More importantly, however, meeting with alumni that run successful ventures in the area was a rewarding experience. Interacting with them in a smaller groups and have them answer our questions allowed for a unique perspective to help visualize future career opportunities.

Out of all of our experiences, KiwiCo and the Mayfield Fund stood out to me. Meeting Sandra Oh Lin, CEO of KiwiCo and CWRU alumni, was an insightful experience. Hearing about the experiences that lead her to where she got to today was incredibly inspirational. Tejas Maniar, from the Mayfield Fund and a Weatherhead MBA graduate, helped me get a better understanding of the venture capital side of Silicon Valley and introduced me to a new potential career path.

To end the trip, a few students on the trek and I were asked to be on a panel for an alumni event in the Bay Area. Being able to answer questions posed by alumni and help them get a better understanding of the amazing work being done at the university was gratifying.