Real Humans of Rochester Simon’s MBA Class of 2022
Hometown: Jericho, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Pennsylvania State University – Hospitality & Tourism Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I spent the past eight years working for Marriott International in Event Operations and Event Planning Managerial Positions at various hotels across the country. After beginning my career in Long Island, NY, I then transferred to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Next, I traveled to the West Coast where I joined the magnificent dual property Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles/JW Marriott LA LIVE. In 2016 I ventured back to the East Coast and joined the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, culminating with the last three years spent at the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and it’s hard to picture my life without it.
Why business school? Why now?
My path to business school differs from most, as I was unfortunately furloughed due to COVID-19 towards the end of March. After evaluating the skills that I possessed and how they might translate to success in other industries or functions, the prospect of attending business school and enhancing my quantitative acumen was enticing. I have a deep love and appreciation for hospitality as it provided me with a wealth of experiences sharpening my leadership, collaboration, and qualitative analytical abilities. Business school gave me the opportunity to rebrand myself and strengthen areas in my personal and professional skill set that I was lacking in.
Why Rochester Simon? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The size of the school was a major factor in my decision. As someone looking to make a career change, the allure of forming high-quality relationships with not only my classmates but the professors, administrative staff, and alumni was something that excited me. Simon is known for its quantitatively driven coursework, which has forced me to view situations from a different lens while providing me with the knowledge and tools to find the best course of action. While the road may be (and has been) challenging, I know that the long-term payoff will be worth it. Last but certainly not least, the tight-knit community that Simon boasts was the final selling point. Throughout my application process, I had an abundance of opportunities to speak with 2nd-year MBA Students and Alumni. At no point did it ever seem like I was taking time out of their day to do something other than talk through why Simon was the right fit for me. Their feedback was open and honest, even when asking how they thought Simon compared to other schools I applied to. Since arriving on campus, that impression has only been reinforced tenfold, meaning that was coming from a place of genuinely wanting to help me make the right decision.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
My prior experience is less traditional for those seeking an MBA, thus I think that I bring a unique perspective when it comes to leadership, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. I’ve had the great fortune of leading teams of anywhere from 15-100 associates, filled with people who may be twice my age and with twice as many years of experience as I have. My ability to bring a team together and work towards a common goal is a key attribute when working with a group on projects and assignments. My aptitude to work with many different types of personalities and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, and everyone’s point of view is considered is extremely valuable when collaborating with people who possess different backgrounds and experiences.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I have a soon-to-be three-year-old niece. It’s our first family baby and being an uncle has quickly become my favorite hobby. Watching her grow and develop, learn new words, and discover the world is one of my greatest pleasures.
Post-MBA career interests?
I am interested in pursuing a career in Marketing, concentrating in Brand Management and Strategy. At this point, I am still exploring multiple industries including Consumer Packaged Goods, Healthcare, Home Goods, Personal Care, Food & Beverage, and Technology.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I enjoyed the essay portion of my applications. Up until then, you’re just a name and a set of experiences. An essay gives you the opportunity to show your voice and put meaning behind your story.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would reach out to more current students at schools that I was applying to. You can only get so much information from a website.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
There’s not a single portion of the application process that I would skip. I wanted every opportunity to differentiate myself from others. As for who helped me get through the applications, my friends and family were excellent resources and motivators.
What is your initial impression of Rochester Simon’s students/culture/community?
I found the Simon community to be incredibly inclusive and accepting. From the moment I began reaching out to the admissions team, alumni, 2nd-year students, and fellow classmates, I was immediately met with excitement and enthusiasm that didn’t feel surface-level. I personally struggled with bouts of imposter syndrome being surrounded by so many other highly intelligent and experienced individuals. However, there was always genuine care and comfort from my classmates, 2nd-year students, and advisors that helped put me at ease and find perspective.
One thing you have learned about Rochester Simon that has surprised you?
I heard from multiple people that business school places a large emphasis on your ability to work in a group. Here at Simon, we were organized into groups during Orientation with other classmates based on personality tests. This experience heightens your ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with others who bring to the table different backgrounds, experiences, and learning tendencies. An understanding that you cannot get through this alone only strengthens the bond with your classmates.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
About 10 weeks ago, I would’ve said that I was most anxious about the adjustment from being a working professional to a full-time student. In addition to that, I was anxious about the speed and difficulty of the coursework because it is vastly different from the work that I was previously doing for 8 years. Now that our class has made it through our mini-semester, experienced some success, and developed a rhythm, I would say I’m simply most anxious about losing track of time and not being able to savor every moment. As cliché as that may sound, I’ve moved around quite often these past 8 years and I understand the importance of enjoying the challenging moments just as much as the relaxing ones.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’ll go with another cliché. I’m most excited to continue learning and building strong relationships with my classmates. Every single day brings with it a new challenge and it’s astounding to look back a mere 8 weeks ago and see how far my classmates and I have come. This class is filled with such an incredibly diverse and talented group of individuals. It’s been an absolute pleasure learning about their journeys to Simon and where they hope to be after our time here comes to an end.