Real Humans of the Yale SOM MBA Class of 2020
Meryl Breidbart, Real Humans of the Yale SOM MBA Class of 2020
Name: Meryl Breidbart
Hometown: Hewlett, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major: I did my undergrad at Harvard, where I majored in visual and environmental studies with a minor in comparative religion. I also earned an MFA in design for social innovation from the School of Visual Arts in 2015.
Pre-MBA Work Experience: This gets a little complicated, so bear with me! The summer after undergrad, I started a company, Chirps, with two of my Harvard classmates. We make tortilla chips and other food items using crickets as a sustainable protein source.
Right out of my MFA (which I completed straight from undergrad), I worked for an environmental firm called AKRF in the marketing department. I transitioned from there to a more digital role doing design at Amino Apps, a network of mobile communities for different niche interests and then to running the design and product team at Jopwell, a career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals. I left Jopwell a few months before SOM and have been working as a freelance designer since.
Why business school? Why now? As you can see from my educational background, I have no formal training in business or finance. I knew that, especially as a woman in the business world, it was imperative that I have both formal training and the MBA credential to continue my entrepreneurial pursuits.
Why Yale? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? This was a fairly easy choice for me! I wanted a school with a student body with a diverse set of interests and backgrounds. I’ve already met so many “non-traditional” MBA students at SOM that it seems that it is the SOM “traditional” to be “non-traditional,” which is precisely what I was hoping to find.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020? Not to beat a dead horse, but I think my experience as a founder of a company is my most valuable and most differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020. Not asked but also worth noting for anyone who is also “non-traditional,” what I DON’T bring to the table is a strong quant background.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I have the most amazing pup named Moses!
Post-MBA career interests? More entrepreneurship, please! I love early-stage startups and helping them figure out their kinks, so I’ll work more on Chirps and/or start another something.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I recognized that a weakness in my application was my limited quant experience, so I took a class through EdX in business school math. The courses are free, but for $79 you can get a certificate of completion (if you pass the timed final).
–One thing you would change or do differently? I took the GRE and not the GMAT. I’m not positive I’d go back and take the GMAT if I were to do it again, but I do think that GRE students still face somewhat of an uphill battle when it comes to proving our capabilities/readiness for the MBA. Given that I’m not an admissions officer and don’t really know, though, definitely take this with a grain of salt. Plenty of my classmates also took the GRE, so there’s definitely hope for you should you choose to take this route.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? I didn’t realize before actually applying that application fees are not nominal! Once I realized that each one was around $200, I definitely thought a bit more carefully about where to apply and to how many schools. I’d definitely have skipped paying if I could have .
What is your initial impression of Yale’s students/culture/community? I am most impressed by how nice and collaborative everyone is. I wasn’t sure what to expect—educational atmospheres often foster competition (which I’m sure will develop to some degree as we get further into the semester), but so far everyone seems really excited to grow together and in concert, rather than in conflict/competition.
One thing you have learned about Yale that has surprised you? SOM has its own (small) gym. This may seem insignificant, but the Yale gym is not super close to SOM/where I live, and it’s really nice to know that I have the option of hopping on a quick treadmill run after (or before, if feeling aspirational) class.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? SOM has a reputation for being academically rigorous. This is definitely one of the reasons I chose SOM over other schools (if I’m paying good money, I want to get what I pay for), but I’m definitely anxious to see just how challenging it will be.