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Real Humans of the UMD Robert H. Smith School of Business MBA Class of 2025

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German Salazar, UMD Robert H. Smith School of Business MBA Class of 2025

Age: 27
Hometown: Fredericksburg, Virginia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Virginia Commonwealth University; Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): Infantry Officer, Army, 7 years

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Over the last couple of years, I have gained a huge appreciation for how important decisions are made at the strategic level. I believe that business school would allow me to meet many people with different backgrounds that would challenge the way that I think through problems and solutions. Additionally, I chose to attend business school because I wanted to enhance my technical skills and continue to build upon the soft skills that I was able to work on in the military daily. I think now is the best time to go to business school because I am transitioning out of the military, and it would equip me with more skills before I choose to go into another leadership role.

Why did you choose UMD Smith? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
After attending virtual information sessions, and speaking to alumni and current students, I felt that UMD Smith created a community that truly cared about supporting one another and created many opportunities to get involved in the school. Along with the sense of community, I wanted a school that was well-known for its diversity. I knew that by coming to UMD Smith I would meet many people, not just with experiences in many different industries, but also across many different countries. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Robert H. Smith School of Business MBA Class of 2025?
I would say it is how to formulate an effective team. I think I bring some valuable experience working in many teams that included a very diverse set of people. As a former infantry officer, I got the chance to lead and work with people with different upbringings, ethnicities, ages, levels of intellect, levels of motivation, skills, languages, etc, and I learned that building a “great” plan is not so great if you do not communicate it effectively to a group that have different mindsets. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I traveled to Nepal during a summer in my undergrad. I had the opportunity to meet members of their special forces, conventional army and other disaster response units. Also, I was quickly reminded I was not up to their level of running when I got the chance to race their senior cadets at their Military Academy.

Post-MBA career interests:
I am seeking a career that would allow me to think collaboratively, and creatively, and the ability to apply technology to solutions. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Reach out to alumni and current students. UMD Smith has students and alumni that are very open to share their experiences. It will give you the ability to learn from their mistakes and also will allow you to get a head start on your networking.  

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I think I spent too much time preparing and sitting on my application than I needed to. I could have submitted it earlier to allow me more time to focus on transitioning to a new location.  

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I put more stress on myself than I needed once I submitted the application. It is important to keep yourself busy. Once the application is submitted, you have done all that you can do, and it is important to keep your mind off it as much as you can. 

What is your initial impression of the UMD Smith students/culture/community?
Everyone is very eager to learn about each other’s stories and their motives. Orientation week was very helpful to really get to know most of the students and faculty. After the first week, everyone was more comfortable with sharing their ideas and the class discussions really picked up from the start of classes. 

What is one thing you have learned about UMD Smith that has surprised you?
The professors make themselves extremely accessible/approachable. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I think I am most anxious about the quant courses. I did not use much of the math that we will be covering in the curriculum during my last job so it will require me to focus more of my time towards those courses. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to gain some quant skills that I know is needed to build upon my business acumen. Although I know it will be difficult, I like to be challenged. Aside from the business school, I am most excited to attend the football and basketball games.

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.