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Real Humans of the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2024

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Chelsea Stokes, Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2024

Age: 29
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Virginia, B.A. Government and African-American Studies, University of Virginia, Master in Public Policy
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry):
-2 years at a Federally Funded Research and Development Center supporting White House Office of Science Technology and Policy (federal consulting)
-1 year at Booz Allen Hamilton (federal consulting)
-3 years at Capital One as a Product Manager (finance)

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
My focus was always technology policy, but I still felt distant from technology. I made a lateral position move to product management at Capital One after primarily focusing on public policy. After being in the product management role, I felt like I was lacking the fundamental tools needed to work in a company, especially at a bank. I also knew that based on where I was in my life, my salary, and my age that now would be the best time to pursue an MBA. Lastly, as a product manager, I always felt like I was in the weeds of running the day-to-day of my product. I missed being able to work on a strategic big-picture view. Pursuing an MBA seemed like the easiest way to combine my previous work experiences and pivot into digital strategy in either big tech or consulting.

Why did you choose Michigan Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
My decision to choose Ross depended on three factors – location, teaching style, and the people.

Being able to travel home easily to see friends and family in the D.C. area was extremely important. For each school I applied to, I researched flights to estimate the flight duration, frequency, and ticket costs. I knew that I wanted to be within a two-hour flight of D.C., which included Michigan Ross.

Based on how I learn, I knew that I needed a mixture of learning styles including seminars, cases, and applied learning. The Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) appealed to me since I have the opportunity to spend part of my first year working on a real problem for a client focused on technology. This is helpful as I am recruiting for technology and consulting post-MBA. I knew that Michigan Ross recruited well for both industries. 

Lastly, the students at Ross were some of the most genuine, authentic, and helpful people I encountered throughout my MBA journey. Plus, the Michigan “Go Blue” school spirit is unparalleled. I remember the countless “Go Blue” I heard while wearing a Michigan shirt in Washington, D.C. shortly after my admittance. I wanted to be part of that network and have the same strong sense of school pride. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I think my most valuable contribution is working in the private sector and around the federal government. Both have unique cultures and their own strengths/weaknesses, especially around technology issues.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I am a huge current events nerd.

Post-MBA career interests:
Technology Strategy (Big Tech or Consulting)

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Interact with more current students, recent grads, and alums at each school you apply. Each one’s perspective is different depending on their career stage.  

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?michigan mba class
I applied to nine schools. In hindsight, I would have applied to five schools and saved myself money on application fees and time writing school-specific essays. I think it’s better to focus on fewer schools’ applications and develop genuine connections with students and admissions officers. Additionally, if I had more time, I would have attended more in-person conferences hosted by student groups, such as the Alfred L. Edwards Conference at Ross, as a prospective student. The connections and interactions during these conferences can provide valuable insight as you are crafting your essays.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped taking the GRE. Two days after submitting my Ross application, I took the GRE one last time. I had to keep reminding myself that I am more than just a standardized test score. If I were to apply again, I would look seriously into the process for test waivers.

What is your initial impression of the Michigan Ross students/culture/community?
My initial impression of Michigan Ross students is a strong sense of school pride. Everyone in the community seems very supportive of each other.

What is one thing you have learned about Michigan Ross that has surprised you?
Michigan Ross students and alums really help and support each other. I participated in early recruitment before the school year started. The second-year students and alums were extremely helpful in my preparation by holding sessions on consulting frameworks and meeting with me individually for mock cases. Whenever I needed help from a current student or an alum, I always received a response back.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about balancing everything. As a prospective student, current students would mention the 3-legged stool – academics, recruiting, and social life. It is nearly impossible to excel at all three at the same time.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to bond with my classmates during international treks and trips. Hopefully, I will receive an international project for my MAP in the winter semester. 

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.