Real Humans of Carnegie Mellon Tepper MBA Class of 2022
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Brown University, Cognitive Neuroscience
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 6 years at ideas42 (behavioral science, consulting, non-profit)
Why business school? Why now? Post-MBA career interests?
Throughout my career, I have worked to understand and influence decision-making around health in critical areas such as childhood nutrition and diabetes prevention. I believe that digital health, when powered by personalized data and an understanding of human decision making, will continue to be a groundbreaking tool for improving health behavior on a massive scale. I have decided to go back to school to get my MBA in order to make a pivot into a product management role supporting the development and commercialization of mission-driven digital health tools. Going to business school will help me pair my existing background in behavioral science and health with a growing understanding of product strategy and development to make me the strongest candidate I can be for such a role.
Why Carnegie Mellon Tepper? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
A few years ago, I moved from New York to San Francisco to try living somewhere where it did not snow (my least favorite season is winter). However, after my first conversation with Tepper representatives at an MBA fair, I had an inkling that going to Tepper would be well worth braving a few more winters. I’d say there are three main factors that drove this decision – 1) the prominent underpinning of STEM both in the curriculum and in the background of many of the students, 2) the opportunity to explore the many strengths of the CMU community as a whole including the top-ranked computer science and public policy programs and, 3) the small and more intimate class size. I place a high value on interdisciplinary collaboration and developing relationships through small groups or one-on-one interaction so these Tepper qualities really stood out to me.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
I think my background in both behavioral science and health gives me a very unique perspective amongst my MBA class. For example, I am one of what I would estimate to be about 15% of my class with a particular interest in being in the healthcare industry post-MBA. This is an even smaller number when broken down into those with prior experience in health and/or with a specific passion for digital health.
Additionally, my expertise in behavioral science not only provides a deep level of understanding into what influences the decisions and actions people make but also is a masterclass in seeking and learning about alternative perspectives. This has been invaluable in classes and case competitions focused on areas like product development, marketing, and team building.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
Growing up, one of my mother’s good friends was a very talented seamstress who often made period pieces for magazines. My first ever paid job was working as a fit model for her as she created a beautiful Victorian-style dress, including a corset and very large hoop skirt (the kind that you need to turn sideways in to fit through a door!).
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I was lucky to have been able to attend multiple in-person events such as diversity weekends and tours at a few schools pre-COVID. The aspects that often stood out to me about cultural fit were student’s willingness to be a resource and connector for potential incoming students as well as their own curiosity, thirst for knowledge, and eagerness to discuss these academic and professional interests in social settings. I am one who prefers deeper conversation as opposed to small talk when possible/ appropriate and felt that many of my peers at Tepper were aligned in this way.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I ended up making the final decision to apply to business school about eight months before the Round 2 application deadline. Although this is not exactly late, there were some pre-MBA resources like the Forté Foundation’s MBALaunch program that I was not able to take advantage of given my timeline. For those who even have an inkling of interest in pursuing an MBA, I would highly recommend taking a look at such pre-MBA programs in order to build a strong support network that can help you along the application process.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The weeks leading up to the application deadline spanned the holiday season. As my husband flew to New York to be with family, I stayed behind where we lived in San Francisco to have some alone time to focus on completing all of the aspects of the application. Although I was successful at finishing all that I had to accomplish (and creating an application that got me into Tepper!), it was a rather lonely time. Luckily friends and family were just a phone call away, which opened the door to some needed support and downtime.
What is your initial impression of Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s students/culture/community?
In this unusual time of our mostly virtual start to the school year, I have been extremely impressed and grateful for the generosity and support of both the first- and second-year students. Even with their own classes and potential full-time job search, second-year students are not only willing but excited to connect and help in whatever way they can. Similarly, despite the flurry of activity that is acclimating to business school and doing so during COVID, my first-year colleagues have gone above and beyond in sharing their knowledge, resources, and experiences to help us all succeed together.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
To be honest, I think one area of anxiety is around what our class might be missing out on in doing most of our learning and interacting from home. We are certainly lucky to have technology at our fingertips to make socially distanced communication easy. However, I do think there is something special about being face to face – particularly in terms of fostering curiosity and building relationships. Although no one truly knows what the future holds, I hope (as I’m sure many others do) to make a full return to the classroom as soon as possible and have the opportunity to do my summer internship in-person.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
In just my first months of school thus far, there have been many opportunities to choose your own topics for class projects and case competitions. This has been an amazing opportunity to directly plug in my passion for health and social good while also helping me build upon and explore these focuses from new angles. For example, I’ve already done a group presentation on using team-building strategies to support one’s family members to make a will, participated in a case competition where we brainstormed strategies to improve data systems for nutrition-related public assistance programs, and created a proposal for why others should invest in up-and-coming health technologies. I am very much looking forward to the ways in which I can continue to expand my knowledge and love of this space through the varied opportunities and connections that business school provides.