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Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2022

Natalie Gonzalez, Johnson MBA Class of 2022

Age: 28
Hometown: Pico Rivera, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Cornell University, Natural Resources
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Nonprofit 4.5 years

Why business school? Why now? I entered the nonprofit world to take a step back and figure out what I want to do long term. Over time I realized the problems I wanted to solve had to do with sustainability in business. I think tackling our biggest environmental issues takes everything we have, and we especially need to look for business solutions.

Why Cornell Johnson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I looked for programs that had a clear focus on sustainability and could give me hands-on experience beyond the standard internship. The Sustainable Global Enterprise immersion stood out so clearly. I also really like how collaborative Cornell is and the opportunity to learn and work across different departments across the wider Cornell community.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
Before my nonprofit work experience, I completed a Masters of Science in Conservation Project Management. I think my perspective in wildlife conservation and the nonprofit space helps me approach business challenges differently.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
I am a huge fan of all things Disney! I grew up near Disneyland and have been very fortunate to be a pass holder. It’s one of my favorite places to be with my loved ones.

Post-MBA career interests? 
I’m exploring my options with sustainability since it touches so many functions and industries. Currently, I’m excited about marketing and operations. My goal is to reduce negative impacts on the environment, by creating sustainable sourcing or developing more sustainable products for consumers.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would go to a lot of the off-campus and (if available) on-campus recruiting events. Sometimes the core information feels redundant, but I left every event making a great connection and learning more about myself for my MBA journey at Johnson.

–One thing you would change or do differently?   
I would have studied for the GRE earlier. I thought I calculated enough time, but since the exam is good for five years, I could have taken it sooner and not have it overlap with the recruiting process as much.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped the GRE! I’m not a fan of test-taking although I know why it’s required. My partner and family were really supportive when I felt like I was missing out on time together. A great study playlist also helped!

What is your initial impression of Cornell Johnson’s students/culture/community?
Everyone is so supportive and prepared to help! The resources are incredible but what makes them truly useful is that there is always someone to help guide you through them.

One thing you have learned about Cornell Johnson that has surprised you? 
I wouldn’t say it surprised me exactly, but I was expecting there to be more bumps in the road since we switched to a hybrid format. I am very impressed and grateful for all the faculty and staff at Cornell Johnson who worked so hard to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
I’m anxious about recruiting since I’m interested in a couple of functions and different industries.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m really excited to take new classes and especially excited for the Sustainable Global Enterprise immersion!

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2022, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: Cornell / Johnson

About the Author


Christina Griffith  

Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.

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