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June 09, 2013

Q&A with a Member of the Ross MBA Class of 2013

My former client, Ross2013, is a Japanese American. After working in Tokyo at a global software company for 6 years as an engineer, he joined the Full Time MBA program at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Post-graduation, he will be joining a top consulting firm at its Chicago office. You can find his first-year Q&A here.


Adam: Looking back on your Ross MBA experience, what do you think you have gained?

Ross2013: In a nutshell, I gained the ability to critically think through business problems, access to a resourceful alumni network, and enriching friendships with classmates and faculty. I suspect that many graduates from top MBA programs will answer this question with a similar answer, but I hope that I can convey how Ross differs from other schools in the questions that follow.

Adam: What parts of Ross did you like the most? The least?

Ross2013: I liked the people most, and there are largely 2 reasons for this. First, I find that Rossers have a strong tendency to be well balanced. An MBA program is often described as having three central themes – academics, recruiting, and social activities. A typical Rosser is well balanced in a sense that he/she tries to devote equal attention to all three of these components, and I think that is the type of person who succeeds at our school. Second, the people tend to be naturally collaborative, and I especially benefited from this during recruiting season. Despite the fact that my peers were competing for the same job postings that I applied for, I was amazed at everyone's willingness to help me prepare for interviews. From personal experience, I can confidently say that Rossers realize that collaboration is much more important that seizing a personal win at the expense of a fellow Rosser's loss. I also think that these qualities extend outside o f my class and apply to the entire alumni base, which is another aspect of our school that I highly value.

The one thing I absolutely disliked was the recruiting process. Don't get me wrong – our on campus recruiting system functions well and constantly attracts top recruiters from a variety of industries. I am just stating that both the internship and full-time recruiting seasons subjectively were the most stressful times during my time here, and I believe that many of my classmates would agree

Adam: What really is Action Based Learning? What did it mean to you?

Ross2013: MAP is the core component of our Action Based Learning mantra and differentiates Ross because of the scale at which it is operated. I think there is tremendous value providing all 500 students with real world consulting experience after the first year core curriculum. MAP allowed me to better understand my strengths/weaknesses at the end of my first year, which allowed me to effectively choose elective classes that aligned best with my interests in the second year.

Aside from MAP, there are many other programs that reflect our Action Based Learning mantra. One example I would like to highlight is a class called Leadership in Changing Times, where each class essentially is a press conference simulation. The goal of the press conference is to effectively address a crisis situation to a live audience consisting of media, analysts, regulators, investors, customers, etc. (imagine a simulation where Tokyo Electric representatives answer questions about the damaged nuclear plants after the 2011 tsunami/earthquake). One of the exciting things is that an executive (oftentimes the CEO) of the company "hosting" the press conference also participates in the role play by asking difficult questions and helps facilitate the post mortem discussions after the simulation is complete.

Adam: What kind of electives did you take in second year?

Ross2013: I was well rounded with my choice of electives which included Strategy, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, and Operations. One of my goals for the second year was to strengthen my ability to logically deconstruct complex business problems, and the Advanced Competitive Analysis class taught by Professor Gautam Ahuja was especially helpful in achieving this goal. Another one of my favorite electives was Marketing Engineering taught by Professor Fred Feinberg. In this class, you are tasked to solve business cases with a strong emphasis on analyzing abundant marketing data. While I found that many case-based classes tended to focus on the discussion of abstract academic concepts, this class was particularly interesting to me because the professor forced me to put such abstract concepts into practice by analyzing data with various marketing tools at my disposal.

Adam:  What are hot topics, activities, classes, etc. at your school right now?

Ross2013: Athletics is always a hot topic our school. I think many of your readers are well aware of our passion for American football, but I felt that there was much more buzz around our basketball team this year and deservedly so. March Madness was absolutely crazy!

Adam: What is your opinion of the career services center at your school?

Ross2013: I think career services at our school is great because they constantly do a good job of attracting top recruiters. However, I also would highlight that the recruiting process is and should be self-directed. You have to know what you want to do, you have to network with recruiters, you need to prepare for interviews with peers, and you have to perform with confidence at the actual interview.

Adam: What is the job market like for you and your classmates?

Ross2013: I felt that the job market was competitive but favorable for our class. It seemed to me that all companies that came on campus genuinely were looking to hire. Personally, I was satisfied with my results for both internship and full-time recruiting. I encourage your readers to refer to data published by our school for a more objective view of the job market at Ross.

Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to your school?

Ross2013:  There are a lot of MBA programs to choose from, and I think that personal fit is the most important thing to consider when deciding on the school you want to attend. Looking back at when I was applying to schools, it was very difficult for me to understand how each school differed from one another. In order to help address this problem, I strongly advise your readers to visit not only Ross but any other schools they are seriously targeting. The only way to get a good sense of personal fit with a particular school is to visit campus and talk to as many people as you can, whether it be current students, faculty, or alumni.

Adam: Are there any specific websites or blogs that you would recommend that applicants look at to learn more about your school?

Ross2013: As a first step I would recommend thoroughly looking through the official Ross website  to get a sense of the different programs offered. For example, you will immediately find out that Ross has several highly rated dual degree programs, such as the new Master of Entrepreneurship program that may be of interest to you.
The Ross Blog also has some useful information. Dean Davis-Blake's blog will give you a sense of the high level strategic initiatives that she plans to implement. Soojin's blog will provide you with more visibility into the admissions process throughout the year. The Ambassadors' blog should give you a better sense of what life as a Ross MBA will be like; the topics covered include everything from sports, social events, academics, recruiting, and MAP.

If you are a Japanese applicant, please take a look at http://rossjba.jimdo.com which hopefully gives you a better sense of all the great things our program offers with Japanese content.

All of the aforementioned resources are useful, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to visit your schools of interest and to meet/talk to real people in order to gauge your personal fit with each school's culture. I understand that campus visits may not be possible for everyone; if this is the case, then reach out to any of the ambassadors to start your conversation. Even if the first Rosser you start talking to is not able to answer all of your questions, he/she will definitely be able to introduce you to someone else who can.

Adam: Anything else you would like to tell us?

Ross2013: Good luck on your application process, and Go Blue!


I want to thank Ross2013 for answering my questions two years in a row. I believe his insights will be incredibly helpful for those considering application to Ross.

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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