Reflections on My Two Years at Tepper School of Business

Reflections on My Two Years at Tepper School of Business

As I start writing this post, I have successfully submitted my last project of the MBA program; I know it has taken me two years to write this post finally, but as I sit here waiting for graduation, I start to reminisce about the two years since I moved to Pittsburgh for my MBA, I want to write about what the past two years have meant in terms of professional opportunities and personal growth. In short, I’m a current two-year MBA student and soon-to-be alumnus; as graduation approaches, I would like to take you through a brief lecture of what I did; I learned, understood, and frankly, I loved about Tepper, CMU, and Pittsburgh. Now, on the brink of graduation, I am compelled to share with you the profound impact that Carnegie Mellon’s Business School has had on my professional opportunities and personal growth.

Before diving into my experiences, allow me to provide a glimpse into my background. I was born and raised in Mexico City, did a bachelor’s in financial management, and was a student-athlete during my undergraduate days; although not an athlete anymore, the competitive mindset hasn’t left, and that’s a trait that has allowed me to grow and achieve professional success and soon to be an MBA degree from Tepper School of Business. I was a former corporate banking analyst before business school, where I was heavily introduced to business analysis and discovered that a graduate business education would allow me to advance my career further.

Embarking on this written journey, I am compelled to echo the mantra of our institution’s Founder, Andrew CarnegieMy Heart is in the Work let me tell you, this can’t be any more true as everyone in this academic institution puts its heart into everything they do and you can feel the passion roaming in every office, classroom, and hallway of the university, even during those late nights leading up to final exams, the unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence never waver. This collective energy fuels our pursuit of knowledge and the drive to make a meaningful impact.

The past two years were full of challenges, knowledge, long nights, new friendships, and satisfactions, so let’s dive into it;

Beyond Expectations

As I set out to pursue my MBA, I was bombarded with questions that plagued my mind. What truly drove my desire for an MBA? Why was now the right time, and what distinguished a full-time program from a part-time one? Would this degree facilitate a seamless transition into a new industry? Could I secure the job of my dreams? The financial investment was significant, but would it be worth every penny regarding tuition, living expenses, and the opportunity cost of lost income? Above all, I wondered what lay in the city of Pittsburgh, where I would spend the next two years of my life. Admittedly, the investment of time and money demanded careful consideration. However, let me assure you that the Tepper School of Business met and surpassed my expectations.

Tepper’s rigorous academic curriculum challenges us to push beyond our limits. It delves into every facet of business management, including corporate valuation, finance, global economics, corporate strategy, marketing, pricing strategies, team management, and organizational behavior. The breadth and depth of academic offerings at Tepper are unparalleled. MBA students can partake in various business school courses, and we can explore subjects from other graduate schools within Carnegie Mellon University, such as computer science and policy studies.

A Launchpad for Career Advancement

Regarding career advancement, Tepper’s program offers a unique opportunity to switch or try different professional options. My classmates included former chefs, doctors, engineers, and bankers who transitioned into Product Management, Consulting, Investment Banking, Corporate Finance, Leadership Development programs, and even those launching their startups after completing the program.

But let’s focus on the personal experience; as I arrived on campus, I was eager to explore the professional opportunities I could get and my future career. From the get-go, I got access to the career center advisor to help prepare and shape my resume, cover letters, and practice interviews and also talk about my career aspirations, whether a career in investment banking made sense given my corporate banking pre-MBA experience or if switching to management consulting would be a better fit. After several grueling months in the fall of my first year, during which I recruited for both investment banking and consulting simultaneously (not something I would recommend unless you’re willing to spend countless hours of meticulous preparation, from mastering the infamous 400-question IB guide to tackling grueling consulting case interviews).

During the recruitment process I had multiple conversations with alumni in both industries and several professionals across top investment banks and consulting firms, these interactions allowed me to ponder whether a career in investment banking would align with my previous corporate banking experience or if management consulting held the key to my future success. After an intense self-reflection and engaging in extensive conversations with alumni and industry professionals, I focused on consulting recruitment. This choice proved fruitful, as I secured an internship offer from Deloitte Consulting—a transformative experience that solidified my passion for the field. As I eagerly anticipate graduation, I am thrilled to share that I will join Deloitte Consulting full-time in the fall as a Sr. Consultant within their M&A Offering Portfolio in the New York Office, ready to embark on an exciting professional journey.

Stepping onto campus, I was excited and curious, eager to explore the vast professional opportunities that awaited me. Yet, the MBA journey is not solely about professional growth; it is a deeply personal and transformative experience. Tepper’s nurturing environment fostered a sense of community and camaraderie as we embarked on this transformative journey together. Lifelong friendships were forged through shared experiences, late-night study sessions, and collaborative projects. The bonds we formed transcended the classroom, extending into our personal lives and creating a support network that will endure far beyond graduation.

Beyond Bridges

Lastly, let’s talk about Pittsburgh. Is it just a city of bridges and chilly weather? Well…It has its fair share of bridges – you might even say it’s “packed” with them. And yes, the weather can be unpredictable, but that’s part of the city’s charm. The Pirates’ win-loss record is the only thing more unpredictable than Pittsburgh’s weather. (See what I did there? Have to love those sports jokes.)

But let’s get serious – the Steel City has so much to offer. With three major professional sports teams – the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins – there’s never a shortage of games to attend. I’ll be honest; some weeks, I attended more sporting events than classes. (sorry, professors – it happens), but don’t worry; I always managed to submit my homework on time.

Beyond sports, Pittsburgh boasts a multitude of cultural and social events. As a CMU student, I had free access to all the city’s museums with my student ID card. And don’t even get me started on the amazing sports bars – the William Penn Tavern and Urban Tap are just a few of my personal favorites. It’s safe to say that I spent most of my free time either at Pittsburgh Penguins games or indulging in some delicious wings.

What I love most about Pittsburgh is that it’s a small city that allowed me to focus on my MBA studies while providing ample opportunities for networking and socializing with classmates, professors, and friends. So, if you’re looking for a city that offers the best of both worlds, look no further than the Steel City.

Lifelong Connections: The Invaluable Benefits of a Strong Alumni Network

As I reflect upon my transformative journey through business school, one aspect stands out above all else—the unwavering strength of the alumni network and the extraordinary power of networking. Beyond the prestigious reputation and world-class faculty, the alumni’s loyal support and dedication to their fellow graduates leave a lasting impact.

In my personal experience, from the moment I received my admission offer, I was welcomed into a community of alumni and current students who were genuinely invested in my journey. I received a warm welcome from a first-year student who eagerly shared their experience at Tepper and answered all my questions about the program and Pittsburgh. Another first-year student contacted me to discuss my decision process and provide further insights about the program. I had regular conversations with her throughout my decision-making process, which made me feel supported and valued.

Soon after, I received an email and further call from alumni that talked to me about his experience during the MBA program and further talked more about what life after the program is like, about the professional doors being opened and the continuing support you get from former classmates, career coaches, professor, and the broad CMU alumni network. He emphasized the professional opportunities ahead and the enduring support from classmates, career coaches, professors, and the expansive CMU alum network.

Nowhere is the potency of this network more evident than in the realm of internship recruiting; Corporate presentations are happening from the moment you set foot on campus, with Tepper alums returning to share their experiences at these companies and offering invaluable insights. It was not just their presence during presentations that left a lasting impression—it was their willingness to go above and beyond. Coffee chats, an integral part of the business school experience, took on new meaning when shared with alums. They generously offered their time, patiently answering questions, sharing insights, and providing guidance. It was an incredible privilege to connect with these accomplished individuals personally, absorbing their wisdom and building relationships that would prove invaluable in the future. As the recruiting season arrived, I soon realized the valuable connections I had built.

In some cases, the alumni interviewed me, eager to ensure the best opportunities for their fellow graduates. They leveraged their connections to introduce me to colleagues, open doors, and provide me a distinct advantage during the interview process. These moments genuinely showcase the strength and dedication of the Tepper network.

Going Above and Beyond

Allow me to share a personal example of how classmates and alumni have gone above and beyond to support my professional development. When I first accepted my offer to attend business school, a fellow student, who had already secured an internship at Deloitte Consulting, graciously offered her guidance in navigating pre-MBA recruiting events and preparing for the Consortium OP – all before I even began my MBA journey. As fate would have it, I, too, accepted an internship offer from Deloitte Consulting. During the recruiting process, my classmates went above and beyond to support me, spending countless hours in intense training, honing our skills, and running mock interview sessions well into the night. The process’s intensity was sometimes overwhelming, but our bond as a cohort grew stronger as we pushed each other to reach new heights, and everyone got their preferred internship and full-time offers.

A Holistic Approach to Learning

As I reflect upon the past two years of my MBA journey, I am reminded of the crucial role that knowledge and academics played in shaping my experience at Tepper School of Business; at the end of the day, we are here to learn something, and Tepper delivers on that promise from the very beginning. Everything begins at basecamp, a two-week introduction into business school and the Tepper School of Business community. From the first day, we were immersed in leadership sessions, mock classes, and team-building activities to develop those much-needed relationships with our classmates. And let’s not forget the unforgettable math workshop, where we braved daily in-person sessions and even endured a final test—yes, final exams before our MBA coursework had officially begun!

But let us dive deeper into what makes academics great; It starts with the acclaimed professors who put their heart and soul into every class. After the first year, the most important highlights are your exposure to courses like Management Presentations, Managing Networks and Organization, Corporate Strategy, Optimization, and Economics; if there is one thing every Tepper MBA student learns during the first year, it is that analytics are the bread and butter of the program. We got deep into the weeds in every class, and not a single soul will ever forget how economics can even impact a Plant Manager from Poughkeepsie.

The second year brought even more opportunities for academic exploration, as we could choose electives or a specific track. Although I didn’t pursue a track, I was fortunate enough to explore diverse subjects and earn five concentrations, with a significant focus on finance and economics. Tepper epitomizes the ethos of academic flexibility, empowering students to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their desired fields. From mastering the art of efficient organizational management through data analysis to conducting complex corporate restructuring valuations, Tepper equips its students with the tools to thrive in the ever-evolving business landscape. In my second year, I took electives to close out my concentrations and did the capstone project. I also spent multiple hours helping our fellow first-years prepare for their internship interviews.

Where Learning Meets Real-World Experience

During my time at the Tepper School of Business, I quickly learned that the learning experience extended far beyond the four walls of the classroom. The school’s various professional clubs offered many opportunities to enrich our knowledge and hone our skills. These clubs played a crucial role in the Tepper community by allowing us to participate in exciting competitions, attend industry events, and network with professionals. I had the privilege to participate in multiple case competitions, including the prestigious Deloitte National Case Competition, where I could put my skills to the test while learning from industry experts. Moreover, I also represented the MBA program class at the Alpha Challenge for Asset Management in North Carolina. Trust me; it was an unforgettable experience where we, as a team, competed against the top MBA programs in the USA by pitching stock recommendations to a panel of expert judges. Not only did I expand my network by connecting with students from different programs, but I also had the opportunity to talk with industry professionals during the competition. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the competitions even opened doors for further interview opportunities.

In essence, the professional clubs at Tepper School of Business were more than just extracurricular activities. They were an integral part of my academic journey, helping me to develop my skills and connect with like-minded individuals who shared my passion for business and finance.

An Everlasting Impact

As I look back on my journey, I realize that it’s not the professional or academic achievements but the personal growth that truly defines it. The relationships forged with classmates and faculty are the threads that weave together the fabric of my experience. Late-night study sessions, team projects, and coffee-fueled conversations transformed acquaintances into lifelong friends. The diversity of perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds within the Carnegie Mellon community enriched my understanding of the world, fostered empathy, and broadened my horizons. Together, we weathered the storms of intense coursework, celebrated victories, and provided unwavering support during moments of uncertainty.

To everyone who has been a part of this incredible journey, my most profound appreciation. To the dedicated faculty who poured their hearts and souls into every lecture, thank you for igniting my passion for knowledge and pushing me to new heights. To my classmates, you have become more than just friends; you have become my lifelong allies and sources of inspiration. Together, we navigated challenges, celebrated successes, and forged unforgettable memories.

As I embark on the next chapter of my journey, I carry with me the strength of the alumni network, the power of networking, and the unwavering support of the Tepper and CMU community. Together, we will continue to make an impact, contribute to the world, and leave our mark on the business landscape.

To future MBA students considering Carnegie Mellon’s Business School, I encourage you to seize this opportunity, embrace the challenges, and open your heart to the transformative experiences that await you. Remember, success is not solely measured by the destination but by the growth, connections, and memories made along the way.

Thank you, Tepper, CMU, and Pittsburgh, for an extraordinary journey that has shaped me into the professional I am today. Indeed, my heart will forever be fonded of the experiences, friendships, and knowledge I gained at the Tepper School of Business.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must find my cap and gown. It took me two years to start writing this, but I’m finishing this write-up and publishing it precisely a day before graduation, just in time to walk the stage tomorrow. Hey, better late than never, right? It’s time to celebrate!

James Evans
Latest posts by James Evans (see all)
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *