Dayris Arias’ (pictured) ambitions were no different. Originally from Peru, she completed her undergraduate degree in economics at the prestigious University of the Pacific in Lima, and afterwards moved straight into a role as a business analyst with the third-largest airport management company in the country.
“I stayed there for five years and transitioned through three different positions,” Dayris explains. “I really liked it, however, I felt like after five years focusing on one industry, I wanted to try something new and see what I was missing.”
The option to do an MBA had been one that Dayris had been thinking about since her undergraduate degree—“I always knew that an MBA was a good platform to have a really good, global view of a whole company and different industries,” she recalls.
While applications to US schools were in decline last year, that didn’t influence Dayris’ decision. “I always considered going to the US,” she says. “A lot of the headquarters of really great companies are in the US, and a lot of people told me that if you want to be focused on your career then the US is a better option.”
When an old friend from her undergraduate program told her about his experience at Cornell University's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, she knew she’d found the right US school for her.
“When I was still figuring things out about the MBA, he told me about his whole experience at Johnson, and I really liked the sound of it,” she recalls. “The school was very open to me even when I was just applying—the whole application process felt very welcoming.”
Upon starting the Two-Year MBA at Cornell in August 2018, Dayris became part of a cohort of only 280 students, 27% of which are international. Compare this with Harvard’s class of 2020, who total a massive 930, Dayris says Cornell provides a more intimate learning experience.
Cornell also works to make sure that all participants get to know each other before their classes start, something that Dayris appreciated. “What really stood out for me at Cornell was the close-knit community—it’s amazing and very supportive.”
In fact, participants in the Two-Year MBA at Cornell start a month earlier than standard MBA programs so students can participate in the Johnson Outdoor Experience (JOE), an orientation retreat in the Finger Lakes in New York.
“They divide you into teams with the people of your ‘core’ group, who you’re teamed with for the whole first six weeks of classes,” Dayris explains. “It was a rollercoaster getting to know each other—we could really see our individual weaknesses and strengths.”
The program also benefits from being situated in Ithaca, New York, a small college town with big city amenities.
“If you’re studying in New York City, you might leave your university and go straight home, but in Ithaca what’s nice is that at the end of the day people say ‘let’s go out for dinner’ or ‘let’s have a gathering at our house’,” Dayris explains. “It’s really nice that there’s this group environment after a hard day studying.”
It’s no surprise that students welcome a little time off—Cornell is still an Ivy League school, after all, and the Two-Year MBA at Johnson was ranked the 10th best in the US in 2018 by Bloomberg Businessweek, ahead of institutions like Yale SOM and NYU Stern.
“Cornell makes sure that you study with A+ people,” Dayris asserts. “Everyone in my class has their own opinions and perspectives and an amazing story and background—they all are unique in their own way.”
Ultimately, Dayris is planning on using her MBA from Cornell Johnson to transition into consulting. While the recruitment process for consulting in the US is tough, Dayris says Cornell has been on-hand to assist her.
“There’s a consulting club at Cornell that’s been very supportive in this journey,” Dayris explains. “They prepare us for the different parts of the interviews, as well as teaching us more about the culture in different consulting firms—that’s very important when you consider where you want to find your next social base after Cornell.”
Though Dayris is still in the early stages of her Two-Year MBA at Johnson, she’s certain she chose the right school.
“I really encourage Latin American or other international students to go to Cornell,” she says. “It will be an experience that you will never forget.”