Cindy Qin, CBS MBA Class of 2019
Hometown: Queens, New York
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 7 years, a mix of design consulting and financial services experience
Why business school? Why now? Prior to attending CBS, I had taken on a few different roles in different industries. I worked diligently in each role and was fortunate enough to be recognized for my contributions at each organization. However, my career growth at each organization seemed to stagnant after a year or two, after I moved into “middle.” What I mean by that is I would often be managing a few analysts or strategists, but not an entire team. I saw that as an opportunity to come to business school to understand what skillsets I might be missing to be a more effective leader in the future and to practice those skills in a receptive environment as well.
Why CBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? For me, CBS is not only at the “very center of business” but at the very center of my everything. I grew up in Queens, and many of my loved ones are in NYC. When making my final decision, I tried to take a holistic view and understand where I would be happiest—not only on a professional development level but a personal one as well. I would really encourage all prospective applicants to consider all aspects of their lives when selecting schools, because it makes a huge difference. What’s right for someone else may not be what’s right for you! Of course, I’m lucky because CBS truly, truly has so much to offer! Whatever your interests are, you can find a class or a club that will connect you to the right community. For example, I am interested in design innovation and was able to take an elective called “Human-Centered Design Applications” in the fall, taught by Harry West, the CEO of frog! We also get incredibly talented adjunct professors and speakers by virtue of being in NYC as well.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2019? This is a tough question because I hope that my most valuable contributions to CBS are yet to come. I was fortunate enough to be elected as a co-president for the Columbia Women in Business club next year, and my partner and I have many plans to create a more inclusive community for all women at CBS. I’m also fortunate to be on the Peer Advisor Board with a great team, and we hope to plan an incredibly impactful orientation experience for incoming students!
Answering the question more directly, I think my most differentiating characteristic is the ability to keep an open perspective and accept others for their differences. Something I’ve noticed is that no matter who you are and no matter what environment you’re in, there are moments when you might feel like an “other.” Because I’ve lived and worked in drastically different corporate cultures with very different personalities (investment banking and private equity vs. design and non-profit), I think that I am a bit more accepting about people’s vastly different life experiences—and also where life can go. I’ve tried to pass this perspective to other students, so hopefully at the very least, that has helped some with the stress of finding the “perfect” job!
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I’ve been a bridesmaid five times, twice as maid of honor.
Post-MBA career interests? Strategy, business development, or product management at a socially-conscious organization.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I really enjoyed the experience of reading my recommendation letters and was pleasantly surprised by what was written. My managers took the time to include thoughtful “words of wisdom” about my past performance, and understanding their feedback was helpful for my personal growth. I thought the process of asking for and receiving the letters also created the opportunity to build stronger relationships with them than through everyday work interactions.
–One thing you would change or do differently? One thing I would do differently is to take advantage of all the resources that CBS offers for you to get to know the school earlier rather than later. This is especially important as CBS has rolling admissions. Our admissions committee works incredibly hard to be available to prospective students through a variety of channels. As a result, prospective applicants can express their interest in the school by reaching out to student contacts, visiting campus for student chats, attending a class visit, or participating in a webinar. It’s important to note that I did do all these things, but looking back, I would absolutely have done them earlier to make a stronger case for myself.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? An impactful piece of advice we received through Women’s Week (a week-long series of events that Columbia Women in Business organizes each year) is to not pre-worry. During my application process, I worried too much about what I should say and how I should say it. As a result, I spent entirely too much time “strategizing” rather than just sitting down and writing / submitting the application. I definitely would skip all the pre-worrying because it just wasn’t helpful for anything. I think having confidence in your own accomplishments and who you are would be helpful to combat this—remember, if you’re considering CBS, you’re likely already awesome!
Greatest highlight so far at CBS? Delivering my CBS Matters to my cluster last semester.
One thing about CBS that you didn’t expect before arriving? I didn’t expect the community to be as strong as it has been. For whatever reason, I had the misconception that CBS is a “finance” school and thought the culture might be lacking. However, this absolutely has not been the case.
Thing you were most anxious about in your first year? (Did it end up warranting the anxiety?) I was most anxious about making “real” connections with other students. No, I shouldn’t have had that anxiety, because I definitely have made some great friends! Friendships are developed over time as well, so I think that’s important to remember.
Thing you were most excited about in your first year? (Did it live up to your expectations?) Participating in the community through hanging out with my cluster, meeting people through clubs like Microlumbia, CWiB, and soon, the Peer Advisor program.