Category: Student Spotlight

Trista’s Tips: Clubs and Co-curricular Activities with Bryan Carlo ’18S (MBA)

Regardless of the program you enroll in, business school goes by very quickly. In order to get the most from your experience, Bryan Carlo ’18S (MBA) recommends you get involved with clubs and co-curricular activities on campus. In particular, he discussed his experience with the Simon Finance and Investment Club and the Simon Sports Club, and why he feels it’s so beneficial for students to get involved in the Simon community.

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If you’re thinking about starting business school this fall, apply to Simon by May 15! International applicants are welcome and merit scholarship awards are still available. Apply today!

 

When You Look at the World Differently, You May Just Change It for Good

The following blog post was written by Brett Welcher, MBA Class of 2019

Last month, I traveled across South Africa to learn more about the largest economy in the second most populous continent in the world. The 12-day trek was part of my Simon MBA program and was organized to help students gain hands-on experiential learning through corporate visits, cultural immersions, and a live case study.

More than two decades after the end of apartheid, South Africa is playing a key economic and political role on the continent, and many of my 300 hours in the country were spent examining the pillars that have contributed to South Africa’s prosperous growth. Here are the most important takeaways I gained while doing business in South Africa:

Successful Urban Revitalization Focuses on the Creative Community

Photo of #makeyourmark graffitied on an outdoor wall

#MakeYourMark encourages street artists around Johannesburg to literally make their mark and help beautify the city. Public art has been central to the success of Johannesburg’s urban revitalization.

Did you know that Johannesburg is home to one of the most successful urban renewal projects in the world? Located within the Central Business District, the Maboneng Precinct has emerged from a state of abandoned disrepair to become a mixed-use creative hub filled with apartments, restaurants, shops, and art studios. For the first time in a generation, a community of creative young professionals have chosen to live and work in downtown Johannesburg, and as a result, South Africa’s largest city is optimistically looking ahead towards the future.

The success of Maboneng has also spurred worldwide interest in urban revitalization, as officials examine whether the project’s model can be sustainably replicated in other cities to help rejuvenate communities, fuel urban growth and drive innovation. In fact, in the coming weeks, our class will be presenting our findings to city officials from Rochester, NY – Simon’s home town.

Global Awareness Is Crucial for All Businesses Today

Shipping containers on a dock in Cape Town.

Cape Town is one of the most important industrial centers and a major seaport in South Africa.

Home to 11 official languages and a rich collection of ethnic backgrounds, it’s no wonder South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation. This diversity and makeup has been an important factor in furthering my understanding of business, particularly as world markets become more interconnected and interdependent on emerging economies.

This point was further emphasized at Sanlam, a financial services group headquartered in Cape Town. During our company visit, we engaged in an hour-long discussion with the group’s CEO where he articulated the challenges of doing business during the 2008 financial crisis, as well as in the era of apartheid.

The biggest takeaway from our talk were the perspectives we gained on the business landscape in Africa. According to Sanlam, “the opportunity in Africa is characterized by falling trade barriers and greater intra-Africa trade, changing customer demographics, more diversified economies, and major investments from other parts of the world – all drivers of growth on the continent.”

The Future of Africa Is Bright

ALA group photo.

We posed for a photo with members of the ALA. The visit was a highlight of the trip for me.

Imagine meeting the future Nelson Mandela, the next Wangari Maathai, or the African Bill Gates. At the African Leadership Academy (ALA), this prestigious institution seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of over 6,000 leaders who will work together to address Africa’s greatest challenges, achieve extraordinary social impact, and accelerate the continent’s growth trajectory.

Every fall, the academy welcomes young leaders aged 16-19 from across Africa to begin a highly selective, two-year pre-university program. Graduates often continue their education by enrolling in colleges and universities around the world, including the University of Rochester.

Visiting the ALA was a major highlight for me. The opportunity to meet and hear directly from young student leaders was inspiring. It gave me new ideas about business and the world, and underscored the degree to which young people are rising up in every continent to seize the possibilities of tomorrow.

The Grand Takeaway

Photo of safari animals.

Experiencing South Africa’s robust tourism industry with a visit to the world-renowned Kruger National Park.

After two weeks abroad, I returned from South Africa with a myriad of rich experiences and profound memories that will continue to shape my business perspectives for years to come.

This life changing trip provided a solid foundation for exploring international business possibilities and practices in an emerging nation. It immersed me in a high growth urban regeneration project in Johannesburg. And most importantly, the trek enriched my understanding and appreciation for diverse ideas and innovative ways of doing business.

An interesting moment occurred on my return flight home. As I boarded the plane in Johannesburg, I came across an inspirational billboard nearby. It read: “When you look at the world differently, you may just change it for good.”

My trek to South Africa greatly expanded my aperture of the world. As far as changing it for good, my journey towards making a lasting and meaningful impact continues.

Students Offer Admissions Interview Advice

In the wake of our Round 2 – January 5 deadline, we will be sending out many admissions interview invitations over the coming weeks. In the meantime, we asked several of our current students to offer their best advice on how to ace your business school admissions interview.

What did you find helpful when preparing for your admissions interview?
“The admissions interview for business school can be a stressful experience and preparing for it can be just as stressful. I found that knowing my story, or “hook,” like the back of my hand was extremely helpful in preparing for the interview. I had to know what made me a unique candidate and how I could separate myself from other candidates. Just like a job interview, practicing is another great way to make sure that you nail down all of the points you want to drive home to your admissions interviewer. Through careful preparation, this will also help take some of the stress off on your interview day so you can go in to the interview confident and ready to impress.” – Bryan Carlo, MBA Class of 2018

Jaime Staengel

Jaime Staengel

“When I was preparing for my admissions interview, I found it helpful to reflect on all the experiences I had on my resume. This involved analyzing each of the items on my resume and asking myself directed questions such as “How did this internship influence me to want to apply for business school?” or “What did I learn from this experience that would be directly applicable to a b-school environment?” Taking the time to do this ensured I knew myself and answered the questions confidently. I also did practice interviews with friends once I thought through these questions so I was more comfortable with my delivery in the interview.” – Jaime Staengel, MS in Finance Class of 2018

“If you’ve landed an interview at Simon, you’re obviously smart and capable, and you’ve already looked through several resources online with potential questions. But, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give is truly understanding why Simon is the right school for you AND you are the right person for Simon. The key to cohesiveness is to have individuals with similar values working together in concert. So, you should ask yourself how your time at Simon will be mutually beneficial, and let that shine through in your answers.” – Nikhil Pinto, MBA Class of 2019

What do you think made your admissions interview successful?
“I know it sounds cliché but I think one thing that made my admissions interview successful was being myself. My undergraduate and internship experiences were more focused economics and not in finance, but by being myself and sharing insights from those experiences, my interviewer was able to connect with me and help me in seeing where connections between the two fields could arise in my program. Sharing some of my personal interests made my admissions interview successful as well because I was able to learn about some of the clubs Simon has and show an interest in wanting to be involved in the Simon community.” – JS

Nikhil Pinto

Nikhil Pinto

“My Simon interview was my first among several, and I did not know what to expect. Instead of a rapid fire Q&A (that I expected), it ended up as an engaging conversation about life experiences, opinions, and interests. I was interested in learning as much about the school, as my interviewer was interested in learning about me. Among many reasons, I eventually chose Simon because of the family atmosphere and helpful people, and these qualities came through early in the admissions process.” – NP

“I think what made my admissions interview successful was exhibiting my desire to join the Simon community and trying to demonstrate in my answers that I would be a good fit for the class. In your answers, try to incorporate how your prior experience can help your future classmates, why you want to be at Simon, and how you plan on using your Simon education to further your career. Also, try to make a personal connection with your interviewer so that they remember you and can see that you can relate well with other people. My interviewer was from the same city as I am, so we were able to connect on our local football team and the local cuisine. In a small class size it is important that the admissions counselors can see that you will get along well with your classmates as you will be spending a lot of time with them.” – BC

What did you take away from your admissions interview experience at Simon?
“I learned to prepare for all types of questions, but when the time comes, be yourself rather than speaking off a script. Simon wants you for you, not for what you think you should be.” – NP

Bryan Carlo

Bryan Carlo

“My biggest takeaway from the admissions interview was just to be honest, be yourself, and stay relaxed. This is the opportunity not only for the admissions counselors to learn more about you, but for you to learn more about Simon. When you come in for the interview have a list of thoughtful questions that show you are genuinely interested in Simon and show your curiosity about the school. The admissions interview is a way to see if you would be a good fit for Simon, so giving answers that are true to who you are will help the interviewers make a determination if you would succeed in the program.” – BC

“I took away that Simon is focused on getting to know you as a candidate from a holistic perspective. They are not looking at one or two numbers such as your GPA or GMAT score. Instead, I discovered in my admissions interview that they want to learn if you are truly passionate about your area of focus, if you are willing and eager to learn and meet people with diverse backgrounds, and if you can persevere in challenging situations. Having been here as a student for about half of my program now, I can say the admissions interview experience prepared me to be aware of these components that are a part of my daily life at Simon, such as working with my diverse team on finishing a rigorous assignment.” – JS

If you’re interested in applying to Simon, assess your eligibility for our Full-Time MBA or Full-Time MS programs. You can also speak to a current MBA or MS student about their Simon experience. We hope to hear from you!

Taking Risks and Reaping Rewards

The following blog post was written by Koji Takagi, MBA Class of 2019

I recently took a big risk. I left my comfortable job. I left a familiar place. Most difficult of all, I moved 6 hours and 36 minutes away (by plane) from my wife. I did these things so I could further develop myself by earning an MBA at Simon. Several times a week, I mutter to myself: “why in the world did I do this? My life was so comfortable.” True, my life was comfortable, but that does not mean that I was living up to my potential.

To remind myself that this risk was worthwhile, I want to take some time to number several of the rewards that have resulted from taking this risk:

Koji1) I gained a network of brilliant, kind individuals. I haven’t met someone yet who would not be willing to help me. I have a classmate who took the time to teach me some calculus just because he wanted to help. I have a classmate who, hopefully, will become a business partner someday. I have also met a number of alumni who have taken the time to get to know me and have shared their experiences. These interactions have helped me realize that what I am doing will help me get to where I want to go.

2) I am learning so much. Simon wants everyone to be aware of its reputation: a program that is unabashedly analytical. I can vouch for this 100 percent. Every class takes an analytical approach to learning, which is shoring up my skills in this area. Simon also has world-class faculty. Lectures are engaging, even subjects that I am indifferent to, like accounting.

3) I am having new experiences. I did a ropes course and I went zip lining during Orientation, two things that I would never have done before. By the way, I probably won’t do either again. But, I am happy I tried. I went to New York City for networking events and Philadelphia for a networking conference. So much happens during an MBA.

This list could easily go on for a while, but I think you get the idea. Sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone and take a risk. A wild ride and some unexpected rewards are likely waiting for you.

​Cheers.