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Real Humans of Michigan Ross’s MBA Class of 2021

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Iman Shakeri, Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2021

Iman Shakeri, Ross MBA Class of 2021

Age: 27
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: College of William & Mary; B.A. in International Relations
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 Years, Consulting

Why business school? Why now?
Coupling my social sciences degree with a five-year career in consulting meant that I knew a little bit about a few things and a lot about nothing. As I started to lead larger teams, I began to realize that to best support the individuals I led, I needed to round out some of my managerial skills and develop a more refined skill set in the industry that I aspired to be a subject matter expert (SME) in. Business school was the opportunity to do both of those things in a safe environment that both challenged and supported me.

Why Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I recognize that it is unfair of me to speak in absolutes, but there is no other way I can describe the Ross community than by saying that everyone I have met here has offered to support me either professionally, socially, or academically. Ross is a community that prides itself on paying it forward and supporting each other as we navigate the stresses of recruiting, career switching, and even accounting (for people who never took a math class in college like me). I felt that support the first second I stepped foot on this campus and am pleasantly reminded of it through every interaction I have with a member of the Ross community, including students, alums, faculty, and staff.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
Having had the opportunity to work at the intersection of the private and social sectors for the past few years has provided me with a unique perspective that I am excited to bring into the classroom and through some of our experiential learning opportunities.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
Before American Idol dominated the singing competition TV market, I auditioned for Star Search by singing Ricky Martin’s “Livin La Vida Loca” when I was eight years old. I did not make it past the first round of auditions.

Post-MBA career interests?
My long-term post-MBA goal is to become a professor and teach courses on the “Social Impact Ecosystem” where I can help students understand the ways that they can drive socially impactful business practices in whatever industries they hope to work in. Before I feel ready and qualified to teach that course, my goal is to formally explore how different players in that ecosystem operate and interact with one another. In the short-term post my MBA, I intend to explore how private sector organizations invest in social impact (in the forms of foundations, CSR departments, etc.). 

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Use your calendar to schedule everything (from GMAT studying, to reminding your recommenders, to your off days). It’s a long process and investing in your organization will help you best manage your time.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I’ll admit – I love all of the GMAT blogs. I’ll also admit I wish I didn’t click refresh on them every five minutes when schools were announcing their interviews, acceptances, etc. The application process is stressful enough.

On the days where schools are going to notify you, find a way to do what makes you happy/will make you feel relaxed. Because when your dream school (Ross) calls you at 5:30 p.m. after you think all hope is lost and you’ve clicked the refresh button on the Clear Admit LiveWire no less than 80 times, being relaxed is going to make that call so much sweeter.

Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Without a doubt, the hardest period of the application process for me began the second after clicking submit on my last application and ended when I got the call from Ross notifying me of my acceptance.

What helped me cope with the waiting period was forcing myself to take a few days off to celebrate and acknowledge the amount of work I put into myself and my application over the last year. Clicking submit on an application at your dream school is an accomplishment in and of itself so take the time to reward yourself for it.

What is your initial impression of Ross’s students/culture/community?
Everyone here will be your biggest cheerleader as you continue your career. Also, students here are not afraid to bring their authentic selves into the classroom and into their interactions with other students. 

One thing you have learned about Ross that has surprised you?
Ross is a small world. Amongst the 420+ students, you will surely find someone who at some point in time crossed paths with you and you were never able to make the connection. I have come to really value some of those friendships and it has reinforced the notion that while business school can be stressful, you’ll always have people who can understand where you are coming from and what you’ve done.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Letting my FOMO lead me to overcommitting myself. There are more amazing opportunities than you have time for and it’s easy to say yes to everything. I’m working on prioritizing the initiatives that I want to be involved with because I know that I won’t be able to do everything that I want to do.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The Ross MAP experience is unlike any other and I am incredibly excited for it! Having the opportunity to do a six-week consulting project for an enterprise before my summer internship allows me to diversify the industries I explore throughout business school. That will in turn give me a more accurate understanding of what type of work truly drives me.

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.