Real Humans of Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2021
Keri Yildirim, Tuck’s MBA Class of 2021
Hometown: La Palma, California, and Istanbul, Turkey, where I’ve spent the past eight years
Undergraduate Institution and Major: California State University, Fullerton; Majored in Business Administration, Minored in History
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 9 years in entertainment
Why business school? Why now?
My time in Turkey has been anything but predictable and the political environment was unlike anything I had previously experienced. Turkey forced me to expect the unexpected and prepare for a range of possibilities. I learned to find better approaches to mitigate risk, effectively communicate the realities of recent events, and ensure that my company prospered in an unpredictable market.
As rigorous as the past eight years have been, I felt that I needed experience outside of my comfort zone, once again. I wanted to gain a broader perspective to become a more effective and well-rounded leader, who is prepared to tackle tomorrow’s issues and succeed in an ever-changing environment. I knew that business school would challenge me and my assumptions, and that it would allow me to work with people from different educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Once I had this realization, there was no better time to go to business school than the present.
Why Tuck? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Tuck stood out to me because of the people. I wanted to be part of a tight knit community and to be acquainted with most people in my class. I wanted to know the professors and ask questions in a safe environment. I wanted to interact with visiting executives and have meaningful conversations with them. I value relationships, and Tuck was the only place that I felt I could thrive and contribute to my community.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
My work experience has been in entertainment, but in two very different countries–the United States and Turkey. The contextual and cultural differences have afforded me experiences that have shaped the distinct perspective I bring to Tuck.
In LA, I began my entertainment career as an intern and worked my way up the ladder. In Istanbul, I continued to progress in my career, but in a new environment, speaking a foreign language, and adapting to a new culture. I am proud to have found personal and professional success alongside a volatile currency, increasing inflation, terrorist activities, and changing geopolitical dynamics.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I love all types of music. To the surprise of my Tuck classmates, I was singing Latin Pop music alongside locals during our pre-term Peru trip. I’ve also discovered someone at Tuck who has similar taste. Our Montreal road trip flew by singing Disney and Broadway musical songs, off-key.
Post-MBA career interests?
Similar to many MBA candidates, consulting! In the long run, I plan on returning to media and entertainment, specifically the intersection of tech and media.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would talk to current students and alumni, but would focus more on quality than quantity. It was not only a great way to understand the school and the culture, but also identify areas that I could contribute to.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I initially underestimated the importance of fit. If I could change something about my application process, I would focus more on finding a school that aligns with my personality and career aspirations. Tuck wasn’t initially on my radar, especially since I lived abroad. By happenstance, I sat at their table during an MBA roundtable session and really enjoyed my conversation with admissions, which was significantly better than my conversations with other schools that were on my radar.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Asking for recommendation letters from my supervisors was challenging because I was also sharing that I wanted to leave in the near future. I really enjoyed working with them, but I needed to focus on my career goals. I was very transparent with them and their support in my career helped me overcome any difficult conversations with others at work.
What is your initial impression of Tuck’s students/culture/community?
The Tuck fabric and “Tuck nice” are both real. I am constantly amazed at the level of support and the generosity of my classmates, my study group, and my pre-term group. People want to help because they care. I felt it as a prospective student, and I’ve noticed it during my first weeks as a first-year student. Initially I was concerned about moving back to the U.S. without knowing anyone, but I am impressed and honored to be part of the Class of 2021.
One thing you have learned about Tuck that has surprised you?
Tuck’s Class of 2021 is diverse not only with backgrounds and experiences, but also ages. I’m not the oldest one here!
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Learning how to balance everything and live without FOMO (fear of missing out). With the limited number of hours in a day, I need to be intentional on how I spend them and make sure I am getting enough sleep.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
EVERYTHING! I can’t wait for tripod hockey, which will start soon. I’m excited to recruit for consulting, especially after chatting with Tuck alumni during the past few months. I’m thoroughly enjoying my classes and activities in Fall A, despite having minimal free time. And getting to know all my classmates has been incredible.