Your 1st Step to Higher Education™
Curious about your ICON+ peers’ academic background and goals? Read this feature to peek into the life of an MBA applicant.
Q: You graduated from a BS/MS program in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. What inspired you to go to the US for higher education?
A: In my opinion, the US provides some of the best educational opportunities in the world. There are numerous choices, so the difference in quality among institutions is not as great as in Europe or Asia. Moreover, the research is really cutting-edge. As a student in the US, you are usually one of the first to know about new developments in science and technology.
Q: And why ECE at CMU?
A: The honest answer is because I didn’t get into MIT. I chose CMU since as a small private school, it gives students a lot of personal attention. Furthermore, it has strong engineering programs in which students can do research in the school’s modern facilities.
As for “Why engineering?”… My background in high school was natural science. I always liked it and did well, but I did not want to stay in pure science. I was not too interested in the science itself, but in the application of it. Being able to apply the knowledge is more useful for finding a job. Also, I like the challenge and dynamic nature of engineering. One has to keep learning even on the job, so it’s not stagnant.
Q: Looking back, how was your CMU experience?
A: Well, the academic program was difficult enough for me, so it was good. I did realize though that for undergraduates, what matters most is not so much what you get from classes and things like that; it’s more how much you are willing to explore and take advantage of what the university offers. For example, the activities or clubs, interdepartmental programs, and taking the initiative to talk with professors.
Q: Now you are looking to get an MBA, again in the US. What inspired the career change?
A: Even before I started my undergraduate studies, I knew that I eventually wanted to do an MBA. I was not so passionate about engineering that I wanted to do it for my life, but an engineering degree is useful in developing your analytical skills and seen as prestigious, especially Electrical and Computer Engineering. Furthermore, I thought a combination of an engineering degree and an MBA would be good.
By nature, engineering is challenging. However, it is not as dynamic or stimulating a field as business. In the business world, you take more risks. It’s not easy, but it’s very exciting. In addition, one does not get much exposure to people as an engineer. In contrast, in business one needs to work with people, which is both fun and less predictable.
Q: Why are you looking to return to the US for your MBA?
A: Compared to the 1 year European programs, the US MBA is normally 2 years in length. As I have less of a business background (3 years of work experience), I think I would need 2 years to obtain the skills, knowledge, and practical experiences that I want. Also, a summer internship as well as networking with students and professors is extremely valuable. These things are more likely to be achieved in 2-year program.
Q: What kind of MBA program are you aiming for?
A: Since I don’t have as much of a business background, I seek a school which has a solid program in general management. In addition to gaining strong business foundations, I want the opportunity to apply what I learn. Case based learning and exposure to real business projects are important to me. I enjoy the class environment but at work, you need to be able to apply what you learn.
Q: How do you hope that your MBA experience will impact your future? In what field do you hope to work when you graduate and where?
A: For me, getting an MBA is a short cut to become equipped with the business skills I need to do well in a real world job. I can widen my network and build friendships with capable leaders. Maybe I will meet somebody with whom I could start a business! I like the idea of entrepreneurship because of the challenge, risk, sense of ownership, and flexibility associated. Perhaps I will at first find employment in consulting and gain the exposure to business development that I need to start my own company.
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