Let’s pull back the curtain on the MBA experience for Black and Latinx students. What can you expect and what will your first day of class be like? What type of environment will encounter? Have past students of color felt left out?
Earlier this year, The MBA Tour hosted a panel with Admit.me Access, the only free MBA admissions program for underrepresented individuals. The panel included current URM MBA students and recent graduates who spoke knowledgably about the academic experience of an MBA student, life outside the classroom, social and other activities, and what you should look out for as you research your business school options.
Continue below to watch highlights from the discussion and gain the perspectives of students who have successfully walked the path you’re interested in.
What do you wish you had done prior to b-school to prepare?
“As you all think about it now…what kinds of things do you wish you had done coming into this?” Prompted panel moderator Eric Allen, founder of Admit.me Access.
“And specifically, from the perspective of being an underrepresented minority going into school, is there anything you would have done differently than maybe some of your other classmates?”
“I was pretty set on what concentrations I wanted to do… If I had to do it over, I would have opened myself up to more opportunities in different industries,” said Nimi Ajayi, an MBA student at the Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.
“I absolutely love my choice, but business school is where you take risks… As I started to interact with different companies, I realized there’s a lot out there that I could explore, and if I had to do it over again I would have rethought how I approached recruiting.”
“At the start of school you’re bombarded with information on different courses, clubs, the program office, and you’re expected to start recruiting right away so it’s a lot of changes very, very quickly,” said Adriana Gonzalez Cabellero, an MBA student at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.
“Something I wish I had done more of is coffee chats… I found that a lot of people were really easy to get on the phone…I would encourage anyone to start reaching out to people to learn more about different industries.”
What unique experiences can you share as a student of color in an MBA program?
“Talk about the balance of interacting, networking with other students of color and other people outside of that group,” prompted moderator Eric Allen.
“I’ve been reflecting a lot as a student on what my role is as a person of color… I’ve been very conscious about making sure that I’m creating spaces where people that look like me or people with my background—whether it’s socioeconomic or ethnic/cultural or sexual orientation—that they feel heard and that their voices are being represented,” said Kevin Vargas, recent alum of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
“My experience in my MBA program has been a lot of that racial reckoning and understanding what it means to be a preprofessional going into a world and career where not everyone’s going to look like me, not everyone will have the same ideas as me… It’s been a powerful journey of understanding…you have to work a little bit harder to find people that resonate with your background a little bit more.”
“Really understand that while its important for us to educate those around us, be careful not to inundate yourselves with burden of your entire race or sexual orientation and trying to take all of that on,” added Nimi Ajayi of Vanderbilt Owen.
“It’s important to be cognizant of the burden placed on you mentally. Allow yourself to feel those things, allow yourself to process those things… We shouldn’t neglect our mental health.”
On being a part of the Black or Latinx community at business school
“How did you evaluate [your school choice] and are there certain things that, looking back, you would change? Because it’s not about percentage of URMs… it’s something there. What is that something?” asked moderator Eric Allen of Admit.me Access.
“One of the things that was important to me was Latino community,” said Allie Ossa, recent MBA graduate of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. “I wanted there to be one, and I wanted it to be active.”
“When we’re small in numbers, it’s important. ‘Do you know each other? Are you friends? Does it seem like you get along with each other?’… Does it seem like there’s a community feel…that was one of the big things I was looking for.”
“One word” of advice for Black and Latinx applicants
“I would like you all to think of one word that you would like to leave the audience with as they prepare for business school,” said moderator Eric Allen.