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Real Humans of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Class of 2021

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Kenneth Barnes, Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2021

Kenneth Barnes, Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2021

Age: 30
Petersburg, TN
Undergraduate Institution and Major
: United States Naval Academy, BS in Quantitative Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8 years, U.S. Navy’s Submarine Community

Why business school? Why now?
I reached the end of my commitment in the Navy and knew I would be transitioning into a new career. An MBA was appealing because it offered the chance to explore other career fields through class work and a summer internship prior to committing to a specific job.

Why Owen? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was fairly certain I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, and Owen had incredible connections to that industry through alumni and by virtue of being in Nashville. Another factor that strongly influenced my decision was that every single faculty member, student, and alumni that I contacted with questions about Owen immediately responded and was willing to make time for me. Their willingness to engage was different from other programs I considered.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
My most valuable contribution is my military experience. I want to provide my perspective as a submarine officer when discussing leadership, personnel management, and decision making in high-risk situations.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
This summer prior to orientation at Owen, I road my bicycle across the country from NYC to Seattle. It was a 5,000-mile bicycle trip through 20 states in 85 days.

Post-MBA career interests?
I am most interested in pursuing a career in healthcare administration.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
I recommend to anyone considering ANY business school, that you give yourself enough time to take the GMAT/GRE at least twice before you need to submit your application. I hope you crush it on your first attempt, but if not, then you’ll have enough time to work on your weak areas and give it a serious, second attempt prior to an application deadline.

What is your initial impression of Owen’s students/culture/community?
My initial impression is that the entire community here is centered around building people up to be successful in careers after graduation. They call it “personal scale.”

One thing you have learned about Owen that has surprised you?
I have been surprised by the authenticity of their approach to “personal scale.” Staff members and students kept emphasizing during my interview process and campus visit how unique Owen was when it came to relationships, but I didn’t fully grasp that part of the culture until my first week of class. When they talk about fostering a collaborative culture where everyone is part of the Owen team and willing to help each other be successful, they actually mean it.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am anxious about the recruiting cycle for summer internships, but the core curriculum and the Career Management Center (CMC) at Owen have already helped put my mind at ease. We hit the ground running in my Management Communications class working on public speaking in a professional setting, and I’ve already met with both the CMC and my peer coach to review my resume.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited about Healthcare Immersion Week, which is an opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare to see first-hand the OR, ER, Lifeflight operations, etc.

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.