Affinity Scholarships for Veteran MBA Students
Written By, Jim Grande
The summer during Babson’s One-Year MBA is a crucible. Navigating a challenging academic course load while forging friendships that will last a lifetime, I made it a priority to take advantage of the sparsely populated campus. Early in the program we were introduced to career services- the folks who help prepare you for interviews, host recruiting events, and provide sound advice based on your chosen industry. It was clear that these were important people to build relationships with while we had their undivided attention.
During an early meeting with Lily Awad, one of the career services counselors, my military background came up. I spent seven years as an Active-Duty US Army Officer prior to matriculating into Babson. We were discussing possibilities within different industries and she brought up the MBA Veterans Conference taking place in Chicago mid-October. This is an exclusive recruiting event that pairs current MBA students that are veterans from the various armed forces with top companies. I had my sights set on Accenture Strategy, who would be at the conference, and does not include Babson in its list of target schools.
I had been eying Accenture since October 2016 when I looked into going right into their Junior Military Officer program, unsure if I would be accepted into Babson’s One-Year MBA. Networking across many offices and levels through friends and LinkedIn, I was able to secure a few informational interviews. Over the next year, these conversations led me to pursue the MBA at Babson and shift my focus to Accenture Strategy as an MBA hire, while leveraging my military background. When the opportunity to attend the MBA Veterans Conference arose, I immediately applied. Concurrently I applied for the Babson Affinity Scholarship to help fund the trip. Airfare and lodging isn’t cheap, and on a graduate student budget, it certainly made the financial situation much easier. Overall, Babson paid for my flight, hotel, and registration fees.
While at the conference I was laser-focused on networking with the Accenture team. This was my one shot that I worked so hard to get, and the pressure was on. The conference had a company-sponsored happy hour, which Accenture invited me to attend. That was my opportunity to network and make a name for myself prior to the interview. By the time I interviewed the following day, I had already made valuable connections with the Accenture representatives, including my interviewer. There was a 45-minute behavioral interview followed by a 45-minute case interview. Both interviews went well and I was able to connect with the interviewers on a personal level.
At the end of the day I was feeling pretty positive about the whole thing, when I received a call from PricewaterhouseCoopers. That morning I had done a web-based interview in PricewaterhouseCoopers’s final round and the call was to tell me I’d be getting an offer in the next week. What a great way to end the conference! I got to wrap up the day helping Christine Drummy, an Admissions Director with the Babson Graduate Admissions team, speak with other veterans about their futures. It was a great experience working with Christine and sharing my journey from the Army to Babson.
The following Monday I received an invitation for a second and final round interview with Accenture. This the same format, but strictly over the phone. The challenge to a phone interview is establishing the connect. The bigger challenge was with the case. How can I show my framework and thought process to the interviewer like I rehearsed so many times? My strategy was to just talk through every single step including my calculations and how I was framing it. By describing the framework, I was painting the picture for my interviewer. It was tough to get a feel for how I did in the interview without being able to read the interviewer’s body language, and I kicked myself for a slip-up during the case.
After that interview I was on edge all week. I was fortunate enough to have received offers from Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers, but Accenture was my #1 choice and I had networked for a year to get in. On Friday afternoon, the recruiter called to deliver the news that I would receive an offer the following week. Included with the offer was a trip to New Orleans for their “Sell Weekend” where all of the MBA Strategy Consultant offerees would come together and learn more about the role while networking. That is another blog for another time…
Babson helped prepare me for the MBA Veterans career conference in Chicago. During this time I was able to network into an interview with Accenture Strategy, which was my #1 choice of post-MBA employment coming into the One-Year MBA. Due to the preparation I did very early in the program with case interviewing and networking, I was able to get offers from 3 top consulting firms: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Accenture. Start preparing early and get to know the folks in career services. If you come with a plan and a goal in mind, they will do all they can to help you get there.