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

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Zainab Yahaya, UMD Robert H. Smith School of Business MBA Class of 2025

Hometown: Howard County, Maryland
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Towson University, Accounting
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): 4 years in Accounting- Staff Accountant and Project Accountant

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I always knew I wanted an MBA degree, so business school was an aspiration of mine. This year was pivotal, as I would have the same years of work experience as it took to complete my undergraduate degree, upon starting the program. Over this period, I have improved my technical skills, expanded my knowledge, and enhanced my personal and professional goals. I love learning and look forward to further development and leadership skills that will enable me to better succeed personally and professionally. 

Why did you choose UMD Smith? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The University of Maryland is a great school, and the Robert H. Smith School of Business is a great business school as well. It has a great reputation for a reason, with notable alumni, faculty, staff, and students. I wanted a program that offered a diverse curriculum with exposure to theoretical and practical aspects of business. I always want to be a part of team where I feel like I belong, and I get that here at UMD Smith. Everyone from the admissions team to the professors and students were very welcoming.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Robert H. Smith School of Business MBA Class of 2025?
I think I bring a little bit of everything to the mix-education, professionalism, diversity, charm, personality, and a sense of humor. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I love to travel, and I primarily look forward to beach days! I also love photography, and I am always so excited to get great shots and capture moments. 

Post-MBA career interests:
I am currently pursuing consulting and project management roles.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I was happy and content with the essays I submitted. I took my time with them and had them reviewed multiple times by different people. The essays are a great opportunity to reflect and tell your story. It gives the school an opportunity to know who you are, where you come from, and where you plan to go.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?rh smith umd
I had a great application process, thankfully. However, I do wish I had started and submitted my application earlier. I think it is important to reflect early and manage one’s time and application deadlines. I would encourage others to overestimate the time needed and allocated towards the application process.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I do not have a part of my application process I would have skipped. The GMAT was optional for my application, and if I had more time with my workload, I would have taken the test or the practice test. I think it would have served as additional preparation for the program.

What is your initial impression of the UMD Smith students/culture/community?
The University is a big school; however, I have been able to walk up to a few people and strike a conversation. I realized it was a very welcoming space, which emphasizes the importance of community.

What is one thing you have learned about UMD Smith that has surprised you?
I am learning how diverse the students are. There are so many students from various backgrounds and interests, who are pursuing different fields. It is so interesting and special how one school can bring everyone together.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
When I started the program, I was worried about imposter syndrome. This is my first graduate degree, and I have been out of school for a few years, so I was nervous about quite a few things relating to my readiness. Nevertheless, I am so happy I made the decision to apply and start. The butterflies are temporary.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited for the positive memories. I look forward to the great relationships I hope to form while attending school! There is a mixture of international and domestic students, and I love learning about other cultures and perspectives. 

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.