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Real Humans of MBA Students: Minnesota Carlson MBA Class of 2023

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minnesota mba class of 2023Bailey Webster, Minnesota Carlson MBA Class of 2023

Age: 33
Hometown: Prescott, WI
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Minnesota, B.S. in Horticultural Science
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): After undergrad, I farmed vegetables for a few years, first working for other farmers and then starting my own farm. Then I moved into various roles working in nonprofits that support farmers – I was an events coordinator for a large organic farming conference, a food hub director, and an organic certification specialist. I still farm part-time – my partner Abe and I grow and sell specialty garlic.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
In my work at nonprofits, I worked with some really amazing people – all smart, scrappy, and mission-driven. Usually underpaid and under-resourced, these folks are the real superheroes of the world. I recognized that a little more business savvy would have really benefitted these organizations. I became interested in leveraging the power and money available in the business community to create change. I’ve always felt the need to be a changemaker, so here I am! I had also reached a point in nonprofits where I was struggling to find opportunities that would continue to challenge me.

Why did you choose Minnesota Carlson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Location was the primary motivator. I own and live on a farm in Prescott, Wis., which is 45 minutes from Carlson. When I started looking deeper into the school, however, I realized it was a really good fit for me. There are a number of really big players in the agribusiness world who do on-campus recruiting at Carlson, and I wanted to have access to the jobs they have to offer. I also loved the enterprise program that Carlson offers, which includes real-world experiences while you’re in school.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Oh, gosh. I feel like a bit of a black sheep at Carlson, to be honest. I’m used to hanging out with plant nerds and artsy people, so this is quite a switch! Honestly though, I think my differences are what make me valuable to the community. I understand ecological systems. I’m always looking for unseen impacts on people and planet. I’m here because I’m committed to creating a more just and equitable business environment that works with nature and not against it.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
When I was farming full-time, I drove a school bus for the local school district. It was a blast, I loved getting to know the kids and seeing them every day.

Post-MBA career interests:
I’m planning to work at the intersection of business and agricultural sustainability. I’m passionate about addressing climate change through regenerative agriculture systems.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
JUST APPLY. I was pretty intimidated by the application process. I had a lot of doubts that I wouldn’t be qualified. My application wasn’t perfect, but I did hit the submit button, and ultimately that’s what counts. Not only was I plenty qualified, but I got a full-tuition scholarship. You never know until you try!

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would write my application essay earlier. I was really down to the wire for the application deadline I picked!

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
There was a video essay component to the application. This was by far the scariest part. I put on some lipstick and just made myself do it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

What is your initial impression of the  Minnesota Carlson students/culture/community?
Overall I really like Carlson. It’s a very collaborative environment. Students help each other out. The staff is incredibly supportive, and we have access to amazing resources. There is way more to do than I will ever have time for.

What is one thing you have learned about  Minnesota Carlson that has surprised you?
I have been surprised by the level of career support. As soon as I was admitted, I was inundated with resources to help me get ready for networking and meeting with potential employers. My resume has never looked so good!

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way?
If so, how? There were a few events for prospective students that would have been in-person but were held online because of the pandemic. I think that’s about the only thing that impacted my admissions process.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m nervous about applying for and interviewing internships. That will happen in November – January. Fortunately, my amazing career coach Kelly will help make sure I’m more than ready for it!

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I just got accepted into an interdisciplinary Graduate Scholars Program through the Institute on the Environment at the U of M. It’s a team of a dozen graduate students from across the university who are working on issues related to agriculture and climate change. I’m excited to contribute and to learn from students in other disciplines. 

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.