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Real Humans of Washington University Olin’s MBA Class of 2022

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Clare Davies, Olin MBA Class of 2022

Age: 31
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Undergraduate Institution and Major: New York University, Art History & Romance Languages
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5.5 years in financial services, 1.5 years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Colombia

Why business school? Why now? 
Peace Corps gave me a great opportunity to take on leadership roles. I wanted to continue to be a leader as I transitioned back into the corporate world, and I knew that to be effective in those roles, I would need more analytical skills. I saw the MBA as the best way to build on my experience as well as learn new skills to propel me forward in my career.

Why Olin? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Two factors that heavily influenced my decision to attend Olin were location and class size. I did my undergrad at a large school, and I wanted a different experience for my MBA. Olin’s small class size gives it more of a familial feel. I like that I will be able to get to know all of my classmates. Location was another big factor. My partner and family live in St. Louis, and I’d like to stay in St. Louis long-term. Olin has a great reputation in the region and offers many ways to get involved in the local community through consulting projects and extracurriculars, so it seemed like a great opportunity to start rebuilding my local network after working elsewhere for most of my career.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
The wide scope of my work experience – from working with hedge fund millionaires in New York City to working with students from low-income families in rural Nicaragua – has given me a unique perspective on leadership and the role of business in society.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
As a former art history major, I love to visit art museums, especially when I travel. I’ve been to more than 130 museums on four continents.

Post-MBA career interests?
I’d love to do work at the intersection of financial services and social impact, specifically around financial asset development for low- to moderate-income families.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?

Talk to current students. Throughout my application process, I was either living abroad or in lockdown because of COVID, so I didn’t visit any of the schools I applied to. Talking to current students really helped me get a sense of the culture of the school.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would worry less about what I thought were my weaknesses as an applicant. Early on, I caused myself a lot of stress by comparing myself to others. Focusing on my own story accomplishments helped me become more confident in myself and my ability to contribute to an MBA class.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
COVID-19 had a dramatic effect on my application process. I had originally planned to apply to schools in fall 2020 to start my MBA in fall 2021 because my Peace Corps service was scheduled to end in June 2021. In March, Peace Corps shut down indefinitely and evacuated all the volunteers. I had two months to decide on schools, secure recommendations, and submit applications if I wanted to start in fall 2020. I took advantage of extended deadlines, networked with current students, and ended up submitting five applications and doing four interviews. What got me through was the Forté MBALaunch program. Through the program, you get matched with a peer group and a mentor. Having a supportive group of women who were going through the same experience really helped.

What is your initial impression of Olin’s students/culture/community?
I love how diverse my class is, not only in terms of race and gender, but also in nationality and work experience. The diversity of thought and backgrounds leads to a dynamic learning environment.

One thing you have learned about Olin that has surprised you?
The professors have handled the hybrid class format very well and are very generous with their time. They have gone out of their way to make themselves available to meet virtually to answer classwork or career questions.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I was worried about how I would get to know my classmates since it’s hard to gather safely in person with COVID. In the beginning, it felt a little awkward meeting new people over Zoom, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Getting to know my classmates has been a lot of fun. Even though we couldn’t do our Global Immersion trip this summer, dealing together with the challenges of starting business school during a global pandemic has helped us bond.

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.