Why should you consider the Michigan Ross MBA? For Christian Rodriguez, a strong campus-based community and the school’s action-based learning approach made all the difference.
The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business enrolls around 350 students in its full-time MBA program each year.
Like Christian, they’re attracted to the school’s mantra of learning business by doing. They work on real-life consulting projects, manage investment funds, and develop their own startups. Over half of graduating Michigan Ross MBAs go into careers in technology or consulting and top MBA employers include Amazon, McKinsey, Deloitte, and Microsoft.
Christian first met Michigan Ross admission officers at an MBA Tour event in his hometown of Lima, Peru. This was at the height of the financial crisis and post-MBA job opportunities were uncertain. But Christian, who had varied background in consulting, education, and e-commerce pre-MBA, decided to go ahead and fulfil a lifelong ambition.
He entered the finance industry after his MBA and today he’s head of credit risk at Peru’s biggest bank, Banco de Crédito del Perú, a part-time economics professor, and former president of the Michigan Ross alumni club in Peru.
BusinessBecause caught up with Christian to find out more about his MBA application journey and why he chose the Michigan Ross MBA.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
Ever since I was 20 years old and in college, I wanted to get an MBA degree from a top business school in the United States. In the end, it was 2009 and I was 29 when I was ready to start my journey. I started taking the GMAT and writing my application essays. Then, the financial crisis hit.
I was totally freaked out! I thought: What am I going to do now? What are the economic prospects going to be when I graduate? I knew my MBA journey was going to be challenging and getting jobs in the US as an international student was going to be tricky. But I decided I was all-in; this was what I wanted and I was going for it.
I ended up attending an MBA Tour event in Lima, Peru. When you go to an MBA Tour, you make connections you can leverage; you learn about different business schools and speak with admissions officers—all this helps you make an application decision.
Michigan Ross was at one of the events I signed up for. I met the admissions representatives and I started my application journey there and then!
Why Michigan Ross?
I chose Michigan Ross for its action-based learning approach—the fact you get to work on real projects for real companies, which was not that common at the time. Ross gave me the real experience of the US business environment that I wanted and I actually ended up working on a consulting project for Microsoft.
Also, the community experience you get at Michigan Ross is one of the best in the world. The faculty, students, and alumni are incredibly supportive and that’s a key differentiating factor for Ross—I’m convinced of that. Anywhere in the world, you send out an email to a Ross alum and you’re going to get a reply no matter what.
What does Michigan Ross looks for in its MBA applicants?
They value candidates that are very not only competitive, but collaborative. The sense of community is so important at Michigan Ross that they want to make sure you fit that environment. You need that sense of community ingrained in your soul!
There’s nothing that would rule someone out in terms of type of work experience. I had quite an eclectic mix of experience, but I also had colleagues with established career backgrounds in finance, consulting, or marketing.
What would rule someone out is if you’re not willing to be part of that community. That goes beyond just being a student; it’s about actively contributing, communicating with your fellow students, being willing to collaborate and help out.
What questions did they ask you in your MBA interview?
Why MBA? Why now? Why Michigan Ross? How do you think Michigan Ross stands out from other MBA programs?
The interview flows in a very friendly manner. Another thing they asked me was whether I was interested in any particular faculty member’s academic research. Having an answer ready for this worked well for me.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about the MBA at Michigan Ross?
Michigan Ross is located in Ann Arbor, a small college town with a population of just over 100,000 people.
After living in a big city like Lima my whole life, I was anxious about moving there. When I first travelled to Ross, I went through Detroit, which was hit hard by the financial crisis, and it was like a ghost town; it was terrifying. You ask yourself: Am I making the right choice?
My doubts were completely erased once I arrived on campus. Ann Arbor is a college town but with the feel of a big bustling city and, again, an extremely strong sense of community.
When you’re in a top MBA program, you’re going to find very competitive people. But at Ross, even the most competitive guy in the room is willing to give you a helping hand without you even asking them.
That’s what surprised me most. These guys call you out of the blue and say: I know you’re interested in doing X, here’s how I can help on this!
Rate Your School: Michigan Ross
What’s one thing you’d change about the MBA at Michigan Ross?
It can be challenging for international students get job offers in the US. That’s an issue, but it’s relevant to all US business schools, not just Ross. I actually did manage to get a US job offer, but I decided to return to Peru instead.
Ultimately, my career took a 180-degree turn for the good after my MBA. Beforehand, I had a very eclectic career with no real a sense of direction. The MBA changed my life professionally and personally. It allowed me to focus on finance which is what I’m doing now, and discover a whole new world which I had never imagined before.
We’re now in a time of economic crisis similar to when I started business school back in 2009. My advice to people applying right now is that at some point every economic crisis will pass. Bear in mind that when the economy recovers and more and more job opportunities become available, you’re going to be first in line to catch that rebound.
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