Real Humans of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business Online MBA Program
Andrew Green, Michigan Ross Online MBA
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergraduate Institution & Major: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, BA in Communications; Northwestern University, MS in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence
Pre-MBA Work Experience: I have spent my career in the analytics space, primarily focusing on the transportation industry. I am currently a Data Scientist at a technology startup based in Seattle.
Why business school? Why now? Prior to Ross, I was primarily focused on building my analytics skill set. It has helped me grow my career, but the narrow focus will also soon become a hindrance to continued success. I chose to get my MBA because it will facilitate better contextual understanding as I continue through my analytics career.
Why the Michigan Ross Online MBA program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? I’m using my MBA to gain a broad skillset, so it was important for me to find a program that didn’t specialize in one particular area but was very strong in many. Ross is Top 10 in eight of the 10 specializations that U.S. News evaluates, which, at least at the time I researched, was the most of any program in the country. Once they announced that they were releasing the Online MBA (my MBA search began before this announcement), Ross immediately shot to the top of my list.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your MBA class? My master’s degree through Northwestern was also an online program, and I truly believe that one of my biggest strengths is having already gone through an online degree once. Our program is new, and for most people, this is their first soiree into online education. With my background, I have some experience building networks of online students despite their geographic distances, and I’ve been doing everything I can to help with that challenge as we go through our coursework.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? The fact that I am a 4th generation Wolverine did get noted on my application (Ross asks for family ties to the university), but what didn’t is how much that means to me. It is a really big achievement to be able to attend the same prestigious university as my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Plus, with the in-person residencies that Ross requires, I now have additional excuses to go visit my family.
Post-MBA career interests? My career path is pretty straightforward: individual contributor to management and beyond in my current domain. The bet I’m making with my MBA is that simply having analytic abilities will not be enough in the future, and that getting a formalized business education will put me ahead of my peers as I move further up the organization.
Advice to Prospective MBA Applicants:
One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Apply. Apply. Apply. I know a lot of people who only apply to one or two programs, but when you look at the time and money it takes to fill out an application compared to the time and money you will put in once you start school, there is no excuse to not apply to a school. I applied to every school I would have considered, and I would encourage anyone considering an MBA to do the same. It only takes one stretch of school to change your trajectory.
One thing you would change or do differently? Being a numbers guy, I spent a lot of time looking at the rankings. While these provide useful information, I would recommend aligning priorities earlier in the process than I did. When I was applying, I had a list of things that were important in my decision, but hadn’t thoroughly vetted how I felt about the tradeoffs (no school has everything). While I came to the correct decision, I believe that I would have saved more than a few headaches by truly defining what I wanted out of my program early rather than solely trusting the blanket ratings.
Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? I didn’t find the process too strenuous to be honest. Part of that, admittedly, is that I applied to my other degree two years earlier, and much of my essay content was therefore already written. My biggest advice would be to keep your eye on the long-term prize. The application process can bring stress, but if you remember why you’re doing it, it becomes much less so.
Greatest highlight so far at the Michigan Ross? Not failing my first course! Well, that and seeing how structured and organized the program is. I assumed there would be a lot of issues as they worked on building the OMBA, but Ross has done a great job of translating their weekend and part-time MBA content and making it online. Things like their communication competency course showed me how much Ross is invested in our futures.
One thing about the Michigan Ross that you didn’t expect before arriving? I was surprised just how much investment Ross was putting into the OMBA from the get-go. Whether it be the studio they use for synchronous content or the high-quality of the asynchronous content, the investment Ross is putting in us has exceeded my expectations.
Thing you were most anxious about in your first year? I think like most people, I was most anxious about my ability to complete the coursework, particularly in domains that I am less knowledgeable. Being exposed to topics like accounting and marketing create a daunting new task for me. However, I constantly remind myself that I am not alone in this feeling and that all of my classmates are likely similar. If we knew the content, we wouldn’t need the degree.
Thing you were most excited about in your first year? Ross leadership made it apparent very early on that they would welcome feedback as they build the new OMBA. This made the opportunity very intriguing because if things weren’t working, they were more than willing to listen. Since starting, they have practiced what they preached, and I have since joined the OMBA advisory council to help continue to build the program into the premier OMBA available.