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Real Humans of the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2022

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Amelia Brinkerhoff, Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2022

Age: 27
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Undergraduate Institution and Major: McGill University, Environmental Science
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry):  2 years, Developing McGill University’s Sustainability Strategy & 2040 Carbon Neutrality Commitment; 1 year, Leading Corporate Sustainability Projects at Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group

Why business school? Why now? 
Having worked on strategic sustainability challenges across public, private, and non-profit settings, I’m looking to direct my career towards how investment and financial industries can influence and scale corporate sustainability and climate solutions. I want to be prepared to facilitate the organizational changes associated with climate change, and to me, that means having a profound contextual understanding of how it will impact businesses across scales. I know that an MBA can uniquely equip me with skills to address the complex sustainability and climate issues that I want to help solve because I’ve seen first-hand how good management approaches can build healthy teams and accelerate solutions. There is a range of experiential, quantitative, and analytical skill sets that I want to build, and an MBA can provide me with the curriculum and experiences to explore these areas. Lastly, I’m looking to go through this personal development journey with a dynamic community, and get personal feedback through the process, and business school really highlighted those two desires.

Why Michigan Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The collaborative culture and experiential learning opportunities, breadth of opportunities at the University of Michigan at large, and strength of the dual-degree program and community were the key factors that helped me decide on Michigan Ross.

Throughout the admissions and application process, I was able to connect with 23 different Rossers, both current students and alumni. I found these individuals to be friendly, curious, collaborative, and humble. Those values are big for me. I want to be around people who can leave their egos at the door, roll their sleeves up and get to work. My conversations with Rossers increasingly made me feel like this was the type of place where I would be supported and challenged, and where I would be in the good company of people looking to use their MBAs and management skills to work on tough global challenges.

I also really appreciated how many dual-degree students were at Ross because it means having classroom perspectives informed by Policy, Public Health, Social Work, and many others. The last key factor was definitely the Erb Institute, which runs the dual-degree program between Ross and Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. The Erb community is very close-knit, enthusiastic about everything related to sustainability and climate issues, and has provided me with community support and opportunities to explore my interests.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
This is hard – my classmates are really impressive, interesting, and thoughtful people! I think that I’m able to hold multiple truths at once and be diplomatic through that process, and this has really helped me in my professional pursuits. I did a foreign exchange year in France when I was 15 and learning another language and trying to contextualize myself in a completely new environment definitely helped me build this skill. It’s tough to acknowledge the truth in two otherwise conflicting or incongruent truths, but I think it helps me see my classmates more clearly and have a more nuanced understanding of the world around us.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
In September 2012, I decided to miss a month of school to work on a political campaign team in Raleigh, North Carolina. I worked on voter mobilization efforts, primarily in HBCUs in the Raleigh area. My University professors were really supportive, and I now have a major appreciation and respect for people who work on campaigns.

Post-MBA career interests? 
Investment Management, Climate-aligned Finance and ESG integration into Financial Services

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Lean into the things that make you a unique candidate! Whether it’s your work history, life experiences, or the interests and passions that get you excited outside of work, these things that make you a great, unique classmate. I laugh every time I hear someone say, “non-traditional MBA applicant”, because I’m not sure that exists anymore and think that the whole point of the MBA is to meet people with really different experiences from yourself. Also, I strongly recommend that applicants prioritize connecting with a variety of members of the school community. There were a lot of more tedious parts of the application process, but my 23 Rosser conversations helped give color to different opportunities and confirm my direction and decision towards an MBA and Ross.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
In hindsight, the balance between applications, work-life, and personal life was tough. Create ways to get out of the “Tunnel Vision” mode that MBA applications can create! I would get so focused on one part of the application, and sometimes lose sight of the bigger objective at the end of this journey. Make sure to grant yourself some grace through this process.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I’ll be honest, I did not love the GMAT process. But I understood that it would be a necessary step in this process, and I felt very strongly about my end goal. My friends and community were extremely supportive, once I let them in and shared more on the application process and why it was so important to me. Once I finally finished the GMAT, my friends crafted a personalized GMAT book pinata to celebrate the end of the process. It felt really good to smash that pinata.

What is your initial impression of Michigan Ross’s students/culture/community?
Despite the obvious differences in the 2020 academic year, I’ve felt very reassured by Ross faculty, staff and new classmates. There have been a lot of real moments of people sharing their experiences on how the past eight months have changed their lives, and I deeply respect that vulnerability and openness. It has confirmed that the culture at Ross and Michigan revolves around generously supporting each other, and I’m excited to be part of that lifelong community.

One thing you have learned about Michigan Ross that has surprised you? 
The MBA learning environment and curriculum has been a pretty fantastic place to understand the nexus of a global pandemic, economic recession, and impacts from climate change. I’ve really liked having the space and expertise from professors to talk about everything from “Why is the stock market doing this today?” to “What diversification strategy did Tesla just exhibit?”

 Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m recruiting for an internship in investment banking, which has been a really exciting process. It’s an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to, and I’m learning a lot! Naturally, I’m nervous about what the rest of the MBA experience will look like, but I feel reassured that we will find a way to continue building community.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Definitely excited for the Ross MAP experience! The chance to focus exclusively on an eight-week consulting project is pretty unique, and I’m excited to get thrown out of my comfort zone into a new industry and type of project.

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.