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Real Humans of MBA Students: Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2023

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washington olin mba class 2023Allison Wise, Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2023

Age: 26
Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Michigan State University, Business/Marketing
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years, Aviation industry 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I always knew that I wanted to go back to school to continue my education. It took me a while after graduating from undergrad to figure out what I really wanted to do with my career, but once I figured that out, I knew I had to go back to business school to advance my career. I’ve always said that I would go back to business school 3-4 years after undergrad and with the changes in the workforce brought on by the circumstances of the pandemic, it was a sign that now was the right time to really make business school a reality.   

Why did you choose Washington Olin? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Olin checked every box that I had on my list: small class sizes, check. Experiential learning experiences, check. A designated marketing platform/study, check. A consortium school, check. The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is an organization whose mission is to “enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education.” It was founded by a WashU professor and Washington University in St. Louis was one of the three founding member schools. The list just went on and on. Additionally, when I went through the recruiting process with WashU I fell in love with the program and all the extra experiences the program provides such as the required global immersion. Those factors are what really drew me to Olin. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I came from an industry where not a lot of students within Olin have come from, which is Aviation. The company I was at had two sides of the business and I worked on the military side of the company. When Covid hit the United States we didn’t get as affected as the commercial side, but I saw an entire business change before my eyes in a matter of months. It really frightened me for a while, but it taught me how to be lean, resilient, and how to take the punches as they come. Especially during Covid, things in the workforce were changing daily and I learned quickly not to stay knocked down by changes or new challenges, but to leverage the resources I had to get back up. The Class of 2023 is unique because we were in the workforce when Covid hit and were all affected in various ways. I see it not just in myself, but in my classmates as well. We have this fearlessness in us, because we’ve seen the worst, but are so hopeful for what the future brings, and we are ready to make a huge impact. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I did ballet for most of my life, I started when I was three and stopped a little after I turned 18. I also took tap, lyrical, jazz, pointe; I did it all. However, it was the rigor of ballet that taught me discipline, structure and was the first place I took on a leadership role. When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to dance with two professional ballet companies in their performances of the Nutcracker. Once I started to take ballet seriously at age 9-10, it all clicked for me, and I picked up valuable skills that I’ve been able to carry with me throughout my entire life.  

Post-MBA career interests: Brand Management 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
My advice for current prospective applicants is to speak with a current student prior to starting your application. Ask them insightful questions so you can get an understanding of what it would be like as a student within the program. Stay in touch with your recruiter throughout your entire application process, even if it is a status update, keep them in the loop. Then lastly, the one thing I absolutely would do again as a part of my application is to just be honest and authentic. We all have strengths and weakness. Don’t be afraid to point them out and talk about them. It shows that you are self-aware but that you also want to grow as an individual and a student. 

What is your initial impression of the Washington Olin students/culture/community?
I came in with a blank slate, not sure of what to expect. I knew the caliber of students and the nature of WashU’s community would be top-tier. The student body and the community at Olin is extremely diverse. I haven’t been in a space with so much diversity and just true acceptance of others since elementary school, so that has been very refreshing. Of course, Olin isn’t perfect, and we all have room to grow and improve, but those in charge of the MBA program at Olin really make conscious decisions that strengthen the culture and community of the program. 

What is one thing you have learned about Washington Olin that has surprised you?
The one thing that surprised me about Olin were the quality of the professors. I’m biased, but I truly think we have some of the best professors and with Washington University being a research university, our professors are true leaders in their fields. The professors at Olin truly care about us beyond just being students but as people. We take a lot of classes within the MBA program at Olin and across the board each professor has been stellar. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
If anything, I think the COVID-19 pandemic made my admissions process easier, in the sense that some of the barriers to access business schools were being reevaluated during the time that I was applying. Like many students, I applied to several schools. Programs were waiving application fees and some even waived GMAT/GRE admission tests. Everything was virtual during my application process so I could attend as many events hosted by a program as my time allowed. Since we were stuck at home due to COVID-19, programs were getting creative and found new ways to connect with prospective students, which created avenues for me to engage with schools, current students and aspects of their program that interested me on a broader scale.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I was most anxious about the course load. I had been in the work force for four years and was slightly nervous about reacclimating myself with academia. I also knew from speaking with current students both at Olin and at other programs that the core classes were tough so that made me nervous, but like other MBA students before me I made it through. However, I not only made it through, but completed my courses with flying colors. My advice to incoming students would be to not be afraid to ask questions during class – and keep asking questions until you not only understand the information, but are proficient enough to explain it to another student. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I was most excited about meeting my classmates. Olin is a diverse community, and I was so excited to immerse myself in that community, take on leadership roles in Olin’s various organizations, form lifelong relationships with my classmates and those ever-essential study groups. 

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.