University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin School of Business
MBA Graduation Year: 2019
Specialization: Brand and Product Management
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Internship: Jeep Brand Marketing Intern, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Auburn Hills, Michigan
Position: Corporate Leadership Development at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
I chose the specialized Wisconsin MBA to accelerate my brand management acumen as I switch careers. Pursuing my MBA aligns my new career path and my passion for automobiles. The renowned marketing program within the specialized Wisconsin MBA is giving me the comprehensive skills and a solid foundation to demonstrate to employers my readiness to succeed in marketing.
Wisconsin has a strong on-campus support network. During my campus visit I was very impressed with the faculty, career center, and program office. I felt confident I would be prepared to find a job after graduation. Wisconsin also has a strong alumni network. As a smaller program, students connect with alumni who are eager to pay it forward and provide career advice. In addition, Madison is a great place to go to school. I wanted a large state school to experience all the sports events—my wife and I are avid Badger hockey fans.
The specialization curriculum is more enriching than the typical general management curriculum. This is especially beneficial because I am making a career pivot. The small group in my specialization allows me to get to know all my classmates and build more lasting, beneficial relationships. And there is a wealth of resources for students: faculty, center directors and assistant center directors, communication coaches, career coaches, and second year mentors. There are many club and organization opportunities as well.
Experiential learning really brings classroom learning to life. A project with Intuit walked us through the nature of iterative software development and the notion of repeatedly thinking big, then narrowing our focus to identify the root problem. In another project with Intuit, we developed a rapid prototype of a mobile application extension for Turbo Tax. We applied the go big, go narrow approach to the design and functionality and then got to deploy the prototype to actual Intuit users to get instant feedback that allowed us to make corrections and devise a viable product. This approach and the related feedback collection were especially helpful to apply to problem-solving during my summer internship.
I am getting exceptional preparation in my classes. My first-year marketing classes included several class projects around consumer trends and using data. Projects that centered on brand positioning enabled me to develop measurable recommendations during my internship at Jeep, which really helped me secure my full-time offer. Hart Posen’s class on strategy has been the most enjoyable class. Hart is enthusiastic and engaging and presents topics relevant to all aspects of business. I referred to my notes during my internship, especially prior to making recommendations.
Wisconsin’s Full-Time MBA program attracts candidates with diverse backgrounds. I have gained insights from classmates who have experience working as part of a startup team in Europe, leading soldiers in the military, and everything in between. Coupled with the breadth of experience is a culture of humility. Second-year students returning from internships with students from other schools, note that our unique culture is reflected in how we work and what we do. We enjoy the university’s great, yet unpretentious reputation.
On a global trip to India, our group learned about the unique marketing challenges American companies face in a developing market. I had always wanted to travel to India; traveling with my classmates made it a tremendous experience. We visited a diverse array of companies, such as Google, Bose, and Proctor & Gamble. Several of us visited Jaipur, the hometown of one of our classmates, which was a great way to get off the beaten path and experience a less touristy part of the country.
Here is my advice for students considering an MBA from the Wisconsin School of Business. First, as you consider ROI, factor in the total opportunity cost—not just tuition, living, and forgone salary. Also look at the program’s competitive differentiation from specialization, class size, and internship and job placement. And don’t overlook the added value of Madison’s college town atmosphere, the UW–Madison culture and reputation, and the strong support resources you get from faculty, career services staff, communication coaches, advisory board members and corporate partners engaged with your specialization. It adds up to exceptional value and an outstanding MBA experience.