The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of the CBS MBA Class of 2024 » Page 6

Real Humans of the CBS MBA Class of 2024

Image for Real Humans of the CBS MBA Class of 2024

cbs mba class of 2024Shelley Mihm, Columbia Business School MBA Class of 2024

Age: 30
Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), Bachelor of Arts, vocal performance. University of North Carolina Greensboro, Master of Arts, opera performance
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years of professional opera singing

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
An opera singer is an artist but also a business person managing their own career. Over time, I found just as much fulfillment in the business aspects of my work as I did in its artistic aspects. The pandemic forced many of us to take a deeper inventory of our values and goals and during that time I realized I was ready for a new challenge. Business school was the perfect opportunity to develop my business and leadership skills and facilitate my career transition.

Why did you choose CBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I’m proud to say Columbia Business School was my top choice from the start. As a four-year resident of New York City working as an artist, I wanted to stay home and experience the city through a new lens. I knew Columbia Business School’s reputation and location would give me unparalleled access to companies from across the globe that no other school could match, as well as in-semester internship opportunities that I could leverage while still in school. I also felt that Columbia Business School’s emphasis on diversity, leadership, and academics would help me grow and develop into an inclusive leader. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
Coming from the arts, I think I bring a fresh perspective to class discussions. On a personal note, I would like to think that I contribute an extra bit of enthusiasm for the MBA experience, which I hope will inspire my classmates to stay curious and engaged through the ups and downs of recruiting and classes.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I have a “Pandemic cat” named Lilibet who is, hand-down, the world’s best cat (ever!). 

Post-MBA career interests:
For now, I am still exploring and contemplating my options.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Talk to as many current students as you can, especially those who are in the professional and affinity clubs that you would like to be involved in. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have “ripped off the band aid” and attempted the GMAT much earlier. There is such a thing as over-preparing. You can always recalibrate your study efforts if it’s not the score you want.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Hands down, I would have loved to skip the GMAT. Having said that, setting hard limits on study time and not sacrificing time with family and friends helped me set a sustainable preparation rate that didn’t burn me out.

What is your initial impression of the CBS students/culture/community?
The opera world is extremely international, but not in comparison to Columbia Business School. The depth of knowledge that my classmates bring to case discussions highlights how invaluable it is to have a class that is 49% international and incredibly diverse in terms of prior work and life experiences. The culture of CBS also provides a safe place to fail and grow, so I’m never afraid to add a point or share my views.

What is one thing you have learned about CBS that has surprised you?
I didn’t expect to form friendships so fast. I know I’ve found people who will be my friends for years to come. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am anxious to juggle the core, recruiting, and participation in the clubs. However, Columbia Business School has so many built in support systems that if I stumble the community will be there to catch me. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to challenge myself and grow. When I was singing my saying was, “Your job is to fail.” We all are perfectionists at times, but when we allow ourselves to fail, we also allow ourselves to learn and grow. This does not apply to failing classes though 🙂

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
It provided me with the time to reflect on my values and goals, which emboldened me to leap into the unknown and leave my opera career.  

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.