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Real Humans of MBA Students: Boston College Carroll MBA Class of 2023

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boston mba class of 2023Ryan Conner, Boston College Carroll MBA Class of 2023

Age: 35
Hometown: Townsend, MA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Merrimack College, B.S. Business Administration
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 11 years, Military United States Marine Corps.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I wanted to make a career switch. My work experience was limited to the Department of Defense/ government. I sought a larger network, industry specific technical skills and the opportunity to build on the soft skills I acquired in the Marine Corps.

Why did you choose Carroll School of Management? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I grew up in New England and a large part of my family still lives here. I knew I wanted to move back here after I left the military. Naturally, Boston College, Carroll School of Business was always on my radar of top schools. The BC brand carries a lot of weight, especially in the greater Boston area. The alumni network is highly regarded, but the biggest factor for me was the culture. I’ve been working for long enough to understand the important culture and the right fit to that culture. I was looking for a small collaborative program because I think it’s the most conducive to learning and growing as a leader.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
It sounds a little cliché, but my most valuable contributions are the soft skills I learned and honed throughout my 11 years in the Marine Corps. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead, work with and work for some remarkable people. I’ve made plenty of leadership mistakes in my career, and with that I’ve learned valuable lessons that I can pass along to my classmates. I think some of us older students make great complements to the younger students who possess valuable technical skills and industry specific knowledge, but don’t necessarily have extensive leadership experience.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I can make one hell of a gin martini.

Post-MBA career interests:
Corporate strategy / consulting / corporate finance

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
I think it is important to remain authentic throughout the process. If you feel the need to change who you are in order to be accepted into a program, then it’s likely not a good fit. Show the admissions board you best “true” self. If it’s the right program, it will work out.

–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would reach out to as many current students as reasonably possible. Like most applications processes, networking begins long before you submit the application. Attend the informational events in person if possible. These events will give you the opportunity to connect/network with current MBA student ambassadors. Not only will you build your network, but you will gain valuable insight into the program.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have prioritized my applications to ensure I met early decision deadlines. At the very least I would strive to meet the Round 1 application. If you do happen to get admitted in an early round, you will have some leverage with regards to financial aid offerings from subsequent admittances. There is a tradeoff there.  I don’t recommend rushing your application just to meet an early deadline, but ultimately apply early if you can.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Without a doubt the GMAT. As many know, it takes discipline and devotion to spend your free time studying for this test. The best technique I found was linking up with another prospective MBA candidate to study. It will help keep you motivated, and misery enjoys company!

What is your initial impression of the Carroll School of Management students/culture/community?  
As a current Carroll School student, I am biased, but I feel that the students here and the culture/community are the program’s competitive advantage. I can’t say enough good things about my classmates and how close we already are. The word “collaborative” is a buzzword on every business school website. This program is truly collaborative. These three aspects of the program are why I enjoy going to class every day.

What is one thing you have learned about Carroll School of Management that has surprised you?
Without a doubt, the strength of the alumni network. The program’s small size is a contributing factor to this. When you connect with alumni, they will go above and beyond to help you out. This doesn’t happen at all MBA programs.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
I think the biggest effect the pandemic had on the application process was not being to visit or tour prospective schools. You can learn a lot about the culture of a program when you walk the hallways or interact with current students.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about the summer internship process. I envy those that know exactly where they want to be post-MBA. Some employers have early application deadlines in September and October. You must stay on top of the internship deadlines and continue to practice interviewing. The first few weeks I was really focused on the curriculum and meeting my classmates. I wasn’t entirely sure what industry, company or even role I was looking for. This caused me to miss out on some internship opportunities early on. Regarding summer internships, my advice is to have an 80% cover letter solution prior to starting the first semester. You can tweak it with your advisor once classes start. In terms of where to apply, I suggest “casting a wide net.” You never know how your interests will change or develop during your two years in business school.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am looking forward to getting to know my classmates better. The culture of this program is very collaborative and supportive. There is a strong connection within our class and the program itself.  Whether in the classroom, at the local watering hole or at a school sporting event, I’m enjoying the time I get to spend learning and socializing with all my classmates.

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.