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Fellows of the Month: Jessica Becker

Jessica BeckerColumbia University, English & Mathematics, 2010
Columbia Business School, Class of 2014
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Finance

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I realized that while I enjoyed working in finance, I was truly passionate about marketing and that I wanted to pursue a career in brand management, with an emphasis on eliminating the use of gender stereotypes in traditional marketing while developing internal strategy that focuses on more equal gender portrayal. With such a specific interest, and as a career switcher, I knew that an MBA would help facilitate the move into brand management. An MBA would enable me to have access to the resources that I needed to make my career goals a reality, both from an academic and career standpoint. I am confident that an MBA will allow me to acquire the business skills I need to improve my candidacy while enabling me to learn more about marketing and brand management, as well as developing a life-long network. After receiving my MBA, I hope to work at a large CPG company as a Brand Manager and eventually move to internal brand strategy while continuing my work on gendered marketing.

What advice do you have for women who are considering business school?
Applying to business school can be an overwhelming process and requires a lot of introspection. Make sure that this is the right decision for you, and know why going back to business school makes sense at this juncture in your life. But most importantly, make sure that you pick the best school for you. Sometimes a program that seems great on paper may not be the right fit. A large part of business school centers around the connections you create and the community you are a part of, so pick a program that best meets your needs, regardless of rankings or anything else.

What’s the most surprising you learned about business school during the application process?
Unlike college, where people apply to 10+ schools “just in case”, business school is a much more individualized and intense process. Pick the top 3 programs that you dream of being at, and do what it takes to make that dream a reality. Visit campus, speak with current students- learn about what each program has to offer. The business schools really are committed to making sure that each student is the correct fit from their end (it is so much more than just GMAT scores and GPA- people really do read your essays!), so honing in on which particular programs are best for you will be instrumental during the application and interview process. Just like you will know which program feels “right”, the business schools want to feel that way about you too, so be honest and do your research to find a community that will best enable to you reach your goals.

Do you feel prepared for business school?
Absolutely. I spent the past year leading up to business school studying for the GMAT and thinking about why I wanted to get my MBA. If anything, I feel much more in touch with my personal goals and have a much better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, which is important going into recruiting. Along with the preparation materials that CBS provided us, I was confident beginning classes. I am excited to see where the next two years take me in terms of professional and personal growth.

What do you do in your free time?
I am very involved in the CBS community so I spend a lot of time (happily) on campus, but in my free time I coach an undergraduate Mock Trial team here in New York City, which I have for the past 2 years. I was already in NYC prior to starting at CBS, so I also have a large network of friends that I love to spend time with.

Please share something about your experience with Forté.
I was absolutely thrilled to find out I had been designated a Forté Fellow. The Forté Foundation stands for everything that I am passionate about, and served as a tremendous resource throughout the application process. It’s a wonderful network comprised of bright, motivated women and I can’t wait to take advantage of all the resources Forté has to offer.

I was a non-traditional applicant in every sense of the word. A career switcher with only two years of work experience, I was worried that my unique background and specific career goals would serve as an impediment during the application process and be perceived negatively by my classmates. However, even as one of the youngest in my class, I am astounded by the respect that my opinions are given and how diverse the entire community is. Everyone is friendly and supportive, and I could not be happier with the CBS community.