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ReachIvy Exclusive: Top College Series – An Interview with Columbia Business School

Posted on Sep 17, 2019
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Name: Nicole Wesolowski
Designation: Assistant Director of Admissions
School Name: Columbia Business School

Could you please provide a short description of yourself?

I am part of our admissions committee and our admission’s operations team. I manage a student’s application timeline and confirm completion of all prerequisite materials. Additionally, I host information sessions on-campus and travel around the globe to recruit top MBA talent.

1. Many of our students are curious to know the kind of profile you seek in applicants. So can you tell us: who should be applying to your Columbia Business School?

Columbia Business School’s MBA program has a diverse class profile, with students from all over the world, comprising every industry. The middle 80% of our students have 3-7 years of work experience, with an average of 5 years. We are looking for candidates who have a clear goal of what they want to gain from an MBA program, and how they want to contribute to the school’s community. For candidates looking to make a larger career transition, we recommend the traditional August entry for the MBA program. For candidates working in Family Business, or looking to make a smaller career transition post MBA, our 16 month January entry program might be right for you. For candidates who are a little further along in their careers, we also have a suite of Executive MBA programs, including EMBA-Global Asia, a partnership with University of Hong Kong and London Business School that is based primarily in Hong Kong.

2. Would you like to share any updates or interesting changes on your campus or any new programs you have introduced or will be introducing?

The Columbia Business School MBA ensures that every student completes a core set of classes so they have foundational knowledge of all aspects of business, then a student is able to pick and choose from over 300 electives to curate their coursework to fit their post-MBA goals. Some of our most popular electives are our Immersion Seminars which allow students to engage with industry practitioners through site visits to multiple organizations each term. We also see a lot of interest in Impact Investing and Fintech, so courses like “Investing in Social Ventures”, taught by Bruce Usher, and “Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies and Digital Tokens Demystified”, taught my R.A. Farrokhnia, have gained a lot of traction. The Business School also does a great job of exposing student to global opportunities. Our Global Immersion Program allow students to learn about business practices of a specific country in the classroom then travel to that country to meet face-to-face with business executives and government officials while working on team projects. This year we have added the Philippines, Ghana, and South Africa to the Global Immersion country list.

3. What facilities or resources does Columbia B-School provide to students who want to explore cutting-edge careers, or pursue entrepreneurship while in the program?

Columbia Business School’s Eugene Lange Entrepreneurship Center has many resources for students who want to start or grow their own ventures. This includes the Summer Fellowship Program that enables students to contribute their skills to growing startups, and the Summer Startup Track which provides advisory support, peer support, and exposure to industry leaders to help students scale their own ventures. We also provide students with the opportunity to work on their startup throughout the semester through the Entrepreneurial Greenhouse Program, and beyond graduation using the Columbia Startup Lab. Some students also find seed funding for their venture through the Lang Fund. These resources are in addition to the fantastic entrepreneurship coursework and faculty.

4. Our students would love to get a slice of life at your campus! What is a classic day like at Columbia Business School?

Every day is different for every individual at Columbia Business School. During a student’s first semester his/her days will be filled with core coursework, recruiting activities, cluster social events, club meetings, and more. Once core courses are completed, students will have flexibility in their elective schedule and may choose to pursue a part-time, in-semester internship in NYC during their second, third, or fourth semesters, in addition to taking on leadership roles within student organizations, mentoring fellow classmates, travelling with their peers, and many social activities.

5. For Indian students:

a. What assistance does Columbia B-school provide to help Indian students chalk their career paths? 
The Business School has numerous resources for international students, including expert advisement with our Career Management Center members who have extensive experience with international student placement post-MBA. Students also work our Executives in Residence, industry-specific alumni coaches, and professional clubs (including the South Asian Business Association) to understand the marketplace and industry into which they are recruiting.

b. Is there any financial aid available to international applicants? If yes, who according to you would be the ideal candidate?
Both domestic and international applicants are eligible for merit fellowships through the Business School. These awards are distributed based on a variety of criteria, including academic excellence, personal background, and professional experience. To be considered for a merit fellowship, an applicant must check the “merit fellowship” box on their application, and submit the application by our merit fellowship deadline, which for this year is January 4, 2019. Once an applicant is admitted they are also eligible to apply for need-based aid regardless of their domestic or international status.

6. Your final word of advice for students:
Be yourself when applying! There are no molds to fit or quotas to fill. We are looking for talented candidates from every walk of life, with diverse experiences to bring to the table, and who will succeed academically and professionally, while also contributing positively to the Columbia Business School community.