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Real Humans of the UMD Smith MBA Class of 2024

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Jonathan Fogg, UMD Smith MBA Class of 2024

Age: 35
Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Wake Forest University (B.A. in English, minor in Entrepreneurship)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Six years, Criminal Law. After graduating cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law, I worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Montgomery County, Maryland, for six years. 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
My interest in business has been building for several years and grew substantially as I witnessed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our society and the global economy. I found myself particularly interested in the current events, issues, and topics seated at the intersection of law and business and knew I wanted to explore this further as I considered my own career.

In my next step, I want to take the many aspects of practicing law that I enjoyed – critical thinking, problem-solving, negotiation, and a competitive work environment – and apply them in a collaborative, team-oriented setting, where people are contributing to a common goal or a broader mission. 

Why did you choose UMD Smith? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
One of the reasons that I chose to attend UMD Smith was its connections to government and private organizations around Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. From tech startups to national-level government agencies, there are so many possible employment opportunities for graduates to pursue locally. I spoke to current students and alumni and, through these conversations, I knew that by attending UMD Smith I would be working alongside a group of students who would expose me to new ideas while positively shaping the trajectory of my career. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024
As an attorney I have handled hundreds of cases over the course of my career. My experience has given me a perspective that enables me to look at multiple sides of an issue and analyze arguments in an objective fashion. These abilities, coupled with nearly a decade of work experience, allow me to bring a unique perspective to class discussions. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I am a big foodie. I love trying different cuisines, exploring restaurants in the DMV area and on vacations, and learning and cooking new recipes with my wife. Also, prior to entering the MBA program, I had the opportunity to drive a high-performance car at Virginia International Raceway. As someone with little to no experience in competitive racing, I was nervous at first. But by the end of the session, I was feeling comfortable navigating the course at speed of 100+ MPH. Overcoming my own nerves and the challenges of driving at the limit really helped build my confidence. This may have been a once-a-lifetime experience for me but if you have a chance, I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Post-MBA career interests:
My ideal career will provide opportunities to leverage my negotiation skills, careful attention to detail, strong work ethic, and naturally competitive spirit in a team-oriented, results-focused atmosphere. I am seeking an opportunity that will enable me to continue to develop the skills I have acquired as a practicing attorney and apply them in a corporate setting.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I attended a virtual meet-and-greet where we had the opportunity to talk to the rising second-year students and ask questions in a fairly casual setting. My advice to potential applicants is to speak with as many current students as possible before you make a decision. More perspectives and opinions mean more information and potential insights about what academics and broader life will really be like for you.  

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have taken more time to travel prior to starting school. Unfortunately, due to wrapping up my previous position and preparing to enter the MBA program, I ran out of time to take a vacation. But if you are able to visit family, or travel somewhere you have never been, I recommend making it a priority.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped the waiting period between submitting applications to business school and hearing back on the acceptance decision. I had confidence that I would get into the programs I was interested in attending, but it was difficult playing the waiting game, nonetheless. During this period, I found it was helpful having a demanding job which helped keep my focus on other things. So – my advice to prospective students during this unavoidable time? Remain confident and stay busy. 

What is your initial impression of the Smith students/culture/community?
Everyone is determined to push themselves and bring their best every day. While the environment is competitive and the workload is demanding, students come together for each other and we have really formed a community within our section. Similarly, the professors are accomplished and knowledgeable, but they are also approachable and willing to make themselves available to students for immediate questions related to class or to future career exploration.

What is one thing you have learned about Smith that has surprised you?
I was surprised by how early in the semester Smith staff began reaching out to provide resources and assist with strategic career planning and development. The school’s approach has been even more proactive and supportive than I expected.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Expanding my focus to incorporate both law and business means building on my existing skills while learning new subjects quickly to stay on top of the material. I am most anxious about the subjects that involve math as it is an area that was rarely relevant in my previous career. To address this concern, I have been conducting extra practice in math-intensive subjects, working in study groups, and reviewing problem sets to make sure my skills are where they need to be in order to be successful. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
In terms of classes, I am excited to gain new knowledge and insights about the economy and financial markets, particularly as the latter have been subject to such turbulence over the past decade. More generally, I am really looking forward to meeting new people and learning from the experiences of others. Everyone in my section has accomplished so much prior to pursuing an MBA and each person’s unique story and perspective enriches class discussion and conversation at social events. 

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.