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Real Humans of the CBS MBA Class of 2024

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cbs mba class of 2024Keerit Kohli, Columbia Business School MBA Class of 2024

Age: 26
Hometown: Diamond Bar, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: UC San Diego, Major in Economics with a minor in Psychology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years; market research/media analytics at Nielsen

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I realized I was still trying to figure out my next career steps, and that there was so much I wanted to learn about in terms of industry and function outside of my previous experience, so business school seemed like a logical next step to take as part of that explorative process. I also recognized there were certain skills I wanted to take more time to intentionally develop, particularly those centered on becoming a more inclusive leader. 

Why did you choose CBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Columbia Business School was an easy choice. For starters, ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of attending Columbia in some form or another. When it came down to it though, getting to be a student in one of the most lively, invigorating cities in the world was such an exciting prospect. Columbia Business School emphasis on inclusive leadership was also a massive factor- it was of utmost importance to me that I attended a program that took this idea seriously and actively sought to improve itself outside of pure academics and professional factors.   

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
My background in market research has felt fairly differentiating so far. Through that experience, I’m used to spending a lot of time thinking about the “how” and the “why” we get to certain data points and conclusions. I am hoping this is something I get to leverage in my future roles, as well as during my time in the program.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
My favorite thing to do when visiting foreign countries is check out their McDonald’s. It’s a little odd but I think the small variations in menu options is such a fun peek into what different cultures enjoy and how a massive fast-food company tries to meet those needs. (My favorite McDonald’s menu options were in Japan.) 

Post-MBA career interests:
Post-program I plan to work in management consulting, either as a generalist or specializing in tech/media and build on my prior work experience. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would make sure to keep up with my support group and ask a few of my close friends to read some of my essays to make sure I’m staying authentic to my true voice and interests. I think it’s really easy to give into the temptation of writing what you think the admission board wants to hear, versus sharing honestly and vulnerably about who you are as a person, but I believe doing the latter is what ultimately helped me be successful. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
If I had to do it all again, I would make sure to take more breaks during my application process, particularly during the essay writing component. Thankfully, it worked out, but I let myself get a little too exhausted at times to write or edit anything productively. Sacrificing my mental health has never been worth it, especially when I know that being well-rested and surrounded by the people and things that I love can be more inspiring and help me be more efficient. 

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT was a bit of a bear; I started studying right before lockdown started and let the stress of the exam plus the economic and general anxiety of that time hang over my head before I invested real time in preparing. However, I was lucky to have been around my family during this time, so they were my biggest cheerleaders and always made sure I took breaks and got some fresh air after a particularly long study session.

What is your initial impression of the CBS students/culture/community?
So far, the community has been incredible. The student-led culture is immediately obvious, and it’s been so fun to see what kinds of new activities and events all the different clusters initiate.  

What is one thing you have learned about CBS that has surprised you?
The feeling of community and collaboration is such a strong component of the program. This is something that many of the students I spoke to during my application process had mentioned, but I didn’t quite believe it until I saw it myself; so many people have offered up time, resources, and advice without me even asking for it, and it’s helped me feel more comfortable, especially in the first week. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about finding a balance between work and fun and academics. I’ve always tended to be the type of person who prioritizes the professional over the personal, but over these next two years I really want to challenge myself to do a little bit of everything. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I think all the opportunities to meet new people and learn about the different kinds of experiences people have had and want to have in their future is so exciting. I love learning about new ideas and possibilities, and getting inspired by the people around me, and I think these next few years are going to give me so many chances to do that. 

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.