Rena Pacheco-Theard Georgetown University, Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service, 2007 University of Texas at Austin, Master of Public Affairs, 2012 MIT Sloan School of Management, 2016 Hometown: Coeur d’Alene, ID Pre-MBA Work Experience: Senior Consultant for public sector clients at Deloitte, background in international development and non-profits For women starting the MBA application process, I am excited for you! While you may feel overwhelmed, I can assure you that it is all worthwhile. You are embarking on a transformative journey that will open many doors and help you establish the career and life skills you seek. I decided to pursue a business degree to build on my background in public policy and poverty alleviation to work at the intersection of the public and private sectors. Making an impact on my community has been the driving force in my life and I can become a better agent for change by augmenting my skills with the enhanced finance, management, and operations skills of an MBA. Business school is a more immersive experience than I could have imagined. There are more opportunities than there is time. Have you experienced “FOMO,” the fear of missing out, before? It is common during the MBA. Whether it is a company presentation in an industry you never considered, the chance to take a long weekend to explore job prospects in another region, or the opportunity to lead a conference panel on a personally meaningful issue, you won’t want for appealing options. I am constantly learning, being challenged and exposed to new ideas and experiences, and – above all – growing personally and professionally. I am hopeful that you will experience a similar journey. To assist, here is some advice I’d like to share: Own your background. Whatever your background pre-MBA, own it. Be proud of the experiences that have brought you to this place and share with the admissions committee what makes you unique. Considering just geography, my class at Sloan is drawn from 60 countries – amazing! Different perspectives enrich the classroom and serve us well as future leaders in business and society. Connect with current students and recent alumni. Setting up short chats helps you learn about the programs and the careers that alumni go into. Do your homework, ask specific questions, and follow-up promptly with a thank you. Even if you don’t end up at a particular school, making these connections is always a plus. If you’re unsure who to reach out to, send a note to the admissions office and they can put you in touch. Conduct interviews on campus. If it is possible to do an interview in-person, do. The interview will be weighed the same whether it is in-person or remote, but I strongly prefer the in-person as an opportunity to connect with the interviewer, meet current students, sit in on a class, and check out your potential new home. Stay with friends in the area or current students to cut down on costs, and schedule chats in advance to make the most of your time. For the many challenges of today, the world needs more powerful women leaders. Congratulations on your decision to apply for an MBA, and good luck!