Isabel Shelton. University of Arizona, 2010 University of Texas McCombs School of Business, 2017 Hometown: Austin, TX Pre-MBA Work Experience: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Director of Education & Talent Alignment The MBA application is the first of many opportunities to market yourself and tell your story to schools and, later, employers. I am a terrible liar, so it was critical for me to tell a story that was uniquely authentic to my personality and goals. At first this seemed like a challenging line to walk because my interests and passions are outside of the traditional MBA student profile. Going in, I absolutely felt pressure to spin myself to accommodate my perceived expectations of schools. I didn’t have a huge network of contacts who had gone through the application process so I didn’t have people there to tell me that this was a TERRIBLE idea. At the end of the day, losing your authenticity can only hurt you. As much as schools are choosing you, I would argue that the most significant part of the process is YOU choosing the school. Presenting an overly packaged version of yourself will ensure, at best, a sub-optimal MBA experience that is insufficiently targeted to your goals and preferences. The best part of going back for your MBA as an adult is the intentionality we can now bring to the process. Business school is a huge investment in both time and money so be uncompromising about who you are and what school fit looks like to you. Ultimately, and only by silencing my inner MBA demons, was I able to present myself authentically and be accepted to my top choice program that has turned out to be an amazing fit and has exceeded all my expectations. So find people who really know you, your passions and your strengths, and let them help you iterate on your story. You will tell this story in your business school application, to your classmates, to company recruiters, and I’m convinced, indefinitely. Investing the time upfront in getting clarity around your objectives and goals will ensure that you get the most out of your MBA experience.