Je’Nen M. Chastain University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Bachelor of Architecture 2009 Mills College, Lokey Graduate School of Business, Class of 2016 Hometown: Richmond, Virginia Pre-MBA Work Experience: Marketing Manager, Kwan Henmi Architecture & Planning in San Francisco; design and marketing with professional design service firms; and nonprofit work with architecture associations Why did you decide to pursue an MBA? Watching my dad run his own business has had a huge impact on my interest to pursue an MBA. For most of my life, I have observed as he has been met with success and the daily challenges of being a small business owner. This entrepreneurial spirit has become a part of who I am, and has driven my desire to pursue an MBA. A business education will be a great compliment to the design/problem solving skills I learned in architecture school as an undergraduate student. I hope to one day either own and/or lead an architectural design practice. What advice do you have for women who are considering business school? Push forward, and go for it! Be thoughtful about what you want to get out of business school, and conduct the necessary research to find the right match for you. Also, make sure you have a group of advocates supporting you – whether it be a friend, mentor, significant other, or family member. Surround yourself with people who will champion you through this process. What's the most surprising you learned about business school during the application process? Every business school is a little different, some more than others. You should find a program that will fit your goals and priorities for business school. I visited a number of schools to compare curriculums, school culture, professors, student services offered, the campus, etc. All of these aspects can impact your overall long-term experience with the program, depending on what is most important to you. Take time to understand what you want and find the right match. Do you feel prepared for business school? Yes. I’m working full-time, and attending school part-time in the evenings. I was worried this would be a difficult combination to manage; however, I am happy to report I am doing both. With careful planning, and support from those around me – I’m making it happen. It is challenging, but possible. What do you do in your free time? I received some really great advice when I was looking into business school: Fully utilize your down time when you have it. In other words, when you finally get a break, allow yourself time to indulge and recover. That way, when you need to get work done, you’ll be ready to work smart and get it done within the time allowed. By working efficiently, you can gain additional free time. What would you tell your younger self about the MBA application process and being an MBA student? It’s okay to move slowly in the application process. I was unsure of when the right time would be for me to go back to school, so my thoughts towards a future MBA program extended over several years after my undergraduate graduation. How would I ever fit this in along with my other goal of also becoming a licensed architect? The application process and soul searching required to make this type of decision can be daunting; however I allowed myself time to research the schools, understand what I wanted out of graduate school, and also took time to understand my current situation as a working professional. When I found the right school for me, it all fell into place because I knew exactly what I wanted for myself. I really couldn’t be happier at Mills. Please share something about your experience with Forté. Forté offers valuable resources for those thinking about graduate school, in the process of applying, and for those of us who are currently in a program. It is a wonderful network of female leaders, and I’m extremely glad to be part of this community.