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Real Humans of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Class of 2021

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Kathryn Pelino, Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2021

Kathryn Pelino, Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2021

Age: 27
Hometown: Hinsdale, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor / Sociology and Art History
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years, Retail

Why business school? Why now?
I always knew I wanted to work on the people side of organizations, but as I moved around at my former company, I realized there was so much I didn’t know about the core functions of our business.  As I started to think about where I wanted to be in 5-10 years, I realized an MBA with a focus on human capital would propel my career and help me become the leader I want to be.

Why Owen? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Upon visiting Owen, I immediately felt a strong sense of community and inclusion. I felt the current students, faculty, and staff were approachable and genuine.  When looking at schools, I wanted to find a community and environment where I would feel supported, where I could thrive, and where I could be my authentic self. I have found all of that and more at Owen.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
Prior to Owen, I was at a startup for 5 years and in that time I had 4 positions and 8 managers. The experience made me extremely comfortable leading in times of change, operating under ambiguous conditions, and engaging with different working styles.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I was born on Leap Year, so my birthday is only on the calendar every 4 years.

Post-MBA career interests?
Human Capital, Corporate HR.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Visiting schools and talking to enough current students to get a sense of the school’s culture. You’ll spend a lot of time with your classmates inside and outside of the classroom – you’ll want to spend it with people whose company you enjoy!

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I studied for the GMAT, started applications, and was attending information sessions all in the same six-month period. I’d recommend studying for the GMAT and getting that out of the way as early as possible so you can spend dedicated time attending information sessions and visiting schools.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Studying for the GMAT, especially during the summer months, was a big commitment! I created a schedule up front and made sure to give myself an entire day off once a week. Building a realistic schedule and staying committed to it prevented me from burning out and feeling like I was getting behind.

What is your initial impression of Owen’s students/culture/community?
Meeting my classmates and getting involved on campus has absolutely confirmed Owen was the right choice for me. My classmates are all intelligent, supportive, fun, and bring such a diversity of perspectives to the classroom.

One thing you have learned about Owen that has surprised you?
I became familiar with Owen’s personal scale through the application process, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it is integrated throughout the MBA experience. Personal scale at Owen means students, faculty, and staff know your name, your interests, and support you on an individual basis.

In my first three weeks at Owen, I’ve already had personalized conversations with my Career Management Coach, Peer Coach, and professors on how to advance my career in Human Capital.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m looking forward to finding a balance between club involvement, academics, recruiting, and my personal life. I’m learning it’s all about prioritizing and making intentional decisions.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m excited to spend time with my incredible classmates and take courses in Owen’s Human and Organizational Performance concentration.

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.