B-School Spotlights

Balancing MBA Admissions and Life: Insights from Carnegie Mellon MBA Graduate, Mable Thelakkaden

When pursuing an MBA degree, it can be challenging to balance the admissions process with other responsibilities in a prospective student’s life.  Learn more from MBA graduate, Mable Thelakkaden, who shares where her motivation came from to earn her MBA, as well as her personal experience and insights into the MBA program at Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business. Mable also speaks on the career management and professional development opportunities Carnegie Mellon provides in their Masters Career Center, available exclusively to their MBA students.

What motivated you to pursue an advanced degree?

I chose to pursue an MBA because I wanted to help people. I chose a program that struck the right balance for me; it had the correct balance of academic rigor to challenge me, along with an incredible support network that was focused on ensuring I succeeded. The professors were engaged and passionate, the students were collaborative, and the career coaches were there to guide me throughout the recruitment process.

How did you determine the right time for you to apply to business school and how did you balance the admissions process with other responsibilities?

I applied to business school when I realized I wanted to pivot to an industry or role that allowed me to have an impact on the end consumer. When I decided to apply to business school, I realized that balancing the GMAT and admissions process along with a demanding job was difficult, and I had to remain determined and resilient during the process. However, applying to a graduate program while working full-time was a great preview into graduate student life, where you will handle classes, recruiting, and extracurricular activities (sometimes in addition to working a full-time or part-time job) while also maintaining your social life and ensuring you are taking breaks appropriately. Going through the application process forced me to rank my priorities and identify where I needed to focus my time and energy, which was a useful skill as I went through the MBA program as well.

Tell us about career management and professional development offered at your academic institution.

The Masters Career Center (MCC) helped me in a variety of ways as I progressed through my MBA program. The focus at the beginning was career exploration; there were workshops and networking events that allowed me to explore different career paths and industries. They also offered a range of workshops focused on building resume writing and interviewing skills, along with one-on-one coaching and counseling services to help me refine my job search strategies and improve my networking skills. As the year progressed, the MCC helped me establish relationships with recruiters and alumni of industries and companies that I was interested in, so I could build connections and leverage their expertise to figure out my path forward.

What advice would you give aspiring business school candidates?

Devote time to the application process. First, understand why you want to pursue an MBA and research what steps you need to take to get to your end goal. Then, prepare strategically – take the GMAT or GRE first, and invest time in strengthening your academic and professional profile as needed. Research schools that are the right fit for you – focus on factors like program reputation, alumni network, faculty expertise, and location (if it’s important to you). Network and engage with current students and alumni to understand the program and its culture, and to gain valuable insights and guidance so that you can make an informed decision. Lastly, embrace the learning journey ahead; engage in classes, school clubs, extracurriculars, and with your professors and career counselors so that you can get the most of your time in business school. Pursuing an MBA program is as much about learning the ins and outs of business as it is about personal growth, building networks, and developing critical skills. Stay focused, adaptable, and proactive throughout the process, while keeping your long-term goals in mind.

What does #MoreWomenLeading mean to you?

#MoreWomenLeading is a movement that recognizes the immense value and untapped potential that women bring to leadership roles. It means creating an environment where women have equal opportunities to excel, lead, and make a significant impact.

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