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Real Humans of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

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Erik Berthelsen, Carlson MBA Class of 2022

Age: 27
Hometown: Northfield, MN
Undergraduate Institution and Major: St. Olaf College, Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years consulting for UnitedHealth Group (health care)

Why business school? Why now?
I came from a liberal arts background that prepared me really well to tackle a wide variety of problems, but after a few years as a consultant, I was ready to dive deep into a specific area of business. Without a lot of specific classroom or work experience in marketing, I knew that an MBA would be a great way to set myself up with the skills and credibility to be successful.

Why Carlson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I grew up in Minnesota and have always looked up to Carlson as a great school. The quality of the teaching is incredible, and I have so many connections that had incredible experiences at Carlson. In my own application process what stood out to me was the focus on experiential learning and getting real project experience as part of the curriculum. Additionally, as a past exchange student the global learning requirement stood out to me since being globally-minded is now crucial to being a successful leader.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
I have always come from a place of problem-solving, and my quantitative and research background gave me a lot of experience in figuring out the right questions to ask to develop a strategy. Knowing what analysis you need is half the battle, and I think this is a differentiating skill that will set me up for success in any role I find myself.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
In non-pandemic times I love to sing in choirs and this was a way to stay in touch with friends from college. This year I have had to shift my attention toward other favorite hobbies like running that can serve as stress relief while staying safe.

Post-MBA career interests?
Marketing has really captured my attention, and I am all in! The ability to own so much of the strategy of an organization and work on the front and back end–to make products better meet the needs of consumers and then turn around and make sure that is being properly understood by customers–is a driving aspect of the job. Additionally, the ability to own a small piece of the company and drive tangible results for the business by working cross-functionally with experts from across the organization is so exciting.

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

Take every advantage to engage with the school and current students through networking and visit days. This is when you can show your interest in the program and get past the admissions stats to envision what your life will be like for the next 2 years at this school.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Brush up on your interview skills before you think you have to. Finding key stories that highlight your experiences will not only help you in the interview for grad school but the internship search once you get there will be that much easier if you already have this nailed down.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Studying for the GMAT is a huge lift. It’s not fun. Try to find resources that will make it feel less isolating and draining, talking to friends or peers who are also taking the test or using the multitude of online MBA forums can be a great way to get study tips or just relieve some pressure by knowing that everyone else is also struggling. These connections are also a great source of knowledge when you are looking at which schools to apply to.

What is your initial impression of Carlson’s students/culture/community?
Carlson has been great, the community has adapted so well to the uncertainty of this year and found ways to connect and support each other despite the challenges. The amount of intentionality and agility in responding to the unique needs of this semester has been incredible and shows the commitment of the administration and professors to pull through to deliver a quality education for their students.

One thing you have learned about Carlson that has surprised you?
I have been surprised at how quickly Carlson started prepping us for the career search. More than I realized during my applications, an MBA program is really a holistic launching pad into your next role, and a huge piece of that is being ready to jump right into networking and internship readiness from day 1. Carlson has done a great job providing ample resources for the variety of industries, functions, and personalities that constitute my class.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
It is nerve-wracking to submit your resume for internships so early in the year and to make sure you are doing the right amount of networking across the companies that interest you, all on top of your first semester of classes. I cannot wait to get the first feedback of interviews that will just be validation of all the work I have put in so far.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I cannot wait for second semester because that is when my program kicks off the experiential learning portion of my program. Getting to work with teams of my peers to solve interesting problems for well-known companies is going to be the most challenging but rewarding aspect of the curriculum as I get functional experience and prepare for the summer internship

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.