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Real Humans of the OSU Fisher MBA Class of 2023

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osu fisher mba class Ana Carolina Sousa, OSU Fisher’s MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Chemical Engineering, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years, Consulting

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Initially, I have decided to go to business school because I have been in the consulting industry since graduating, and I really love it. An MBA is a fast tracker for consulting careers and, in addition, my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering did not give me much confidence in my business knowledge, for both hard skills like Finance and Accounting and soft skills like Organizational Behavior and Leadership. I felt like I learned a lot from practice but could definitely use a more solid foundation of knowledge to make future business decisions with more confidence.  

In terms of timing, I did not really choose mine. I applied to business school in 2019, when after 2 years of consulting I felt like my learning curve was becoming flat. In December of 2019, I got my offer letter from The Ohio State University and accepted it right away, but had to defer my start from fall 2020 to fall 2021 due to the pandemic. Brazil consulates were closed during all 2020 and I was not able to get a student visa on time, unfortunately, so it took me a lot of patience to actually get started.  

Why did you choose OSU Fisher? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Fisher stood out in many ways during my business school research. One primary factor for me was scholarship and funding opportunities, since financing an MBA is a huge challenge, but the program itself also has many advantages when compared to other schools. It only has cohorts of 60-90 students, which is way less than the average MBA program, making your learning experience much more personalized. In addition, Fisher focus a lot on experiential learning, which I think is a key value for any academic program to prepare students to succeed in a real professional environment. We have several opportunities to work as consultants trying to solve complex business problems, such as Business Labs and the Global Applied Projects – in which you work with an international company and, in non-COVID years, get to travel to their country for two weeks to present your final recommendations.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
The best thing about my career is to have had the opportunity to work in different countries, with such diverse teams. I learned a lot about global corporate cultures, and I hope that sharing my experiences from such challenges can be insightful to everyone. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
One thing would be that I am very passionate about sports (watching, not playing), so it might be true that the fact OSU has such an amazing football team and crazy passionate fans was a relevant factor for my business school choice.  

Another thing is that, as a consultant, I really struggled to adapt to the remote work life. Because so much of my time was usually consumed with traveling, I ended up finding myself bored enough to try all sorts of hobbies during the pandemic – I am sure I was not the only one –, and I ended up sticking with aerial silks, a super fun circus activity. 

Post-MBA career interests:
I am passionate about consulting: few careers allow you to constantly be challenged to solve complex business problems while working with new teams and getting to know different places. However, I am starting a different personal moment, since I am now engaged and a happy dog mom. So, besides consulting, I have also been considering corporate strategy and business excellence as alternative but similar career paths.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:

– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Spend a lot of time researching your possibilities. There is definitely at least one school out there that will work out perfectly for you, but it takes time and effort to learn about all of them and making your prioritization. Also, use your network references as much as possible – and if you think it is not enough, expand your network to help you achieve what you want. I had amazing people helping me out with my resume and essays, and that made a huge difference.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Do not stop preparing for your GMAT until you take it, and do not give up if it does not work out the first time. In my experience, I worked really hard to prepare for the GMAT, and when I got an outstanding score in a couple of practice exams, I scheduled the real test for one month later, and kind of relaxed. Terrible idea. I ended up getting a much lower score than ever, and at that point just wanted to give up. I felt like I wasted my time and money and would not be able to get a sufficient score for my target schools. I am lucky to have had very supportive friends to not let me give up and, of course, I changed my strategy. I scheduled my second test for 5 weeks later, and trained questions intensely until two days before the real exam. Then I got a great score.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I struggled with the essays in particular, first because I am not the greatest writer, and second because honestly, I did not believe in myself enough to make a strong stand in my essays. Initially, I thought I was crazy to apply, and I would not get accepted at all, so I had a hard time writing about my motivations and why I deserved to be in.

What really helped was talking to people who did believe in me from start and doing that repeatedly. The more I had those conversations, the more my storytelling became clear in my head, and the easier it was to put it together in an essay. You must really believe in yourself and, if you don’t, surround yourself with people who will help you do so.

What is your initial impression of the OSU Fisher students/culture/community?
So far, my experience has been great. My class is very diverse, and there is clearly a collaborative culture among students, rather than a competitive one. Also, because our cohort is relatively small, and participation in class is a huge deal, it feels like everyone has a voice and gets to be heard.             

What is one thing you have learned about OSU Fisher that has surprised you?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn my professors are very accessible and supportive. In my undergraduate experience, that was never the case, and it has been a game changer to be able to have clarifying discussions with my professors out of class. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?Yes. I applied and got accepted in December 2019 but could not start in Fall 2020 due to the pandemic. The consulates in Brazil were closed, and I was not able to get a student visa on time. Fisher was very supportive, and they accepted my deferral and withheld my scholarship for a start in Fall 2021. But still, it was awful to have to wait so long to start my MBA.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
The grades. Personally, I am comfortable (and excited) with the job searching for internships because it is great how we have so many possibilities open in front of us right now. But I had a very rough undergraduate experience in Brazil, and I am concerned about the completely different academic style I am facing now, with so many assignments, readings, and exams.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Case competitions! I love analyzing cases and coming up with smart and innovative recommendations. Also, due to my competitive spirit, I always thrive and have more fun in this type of setting, even if I never get to win. 

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: Ohio State / Fisher

About the Author


Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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