Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is a top-tier business school in the US, with a global reputation and students from over 40 countries. Ms Shelly Heinrich, Associate Dean of MBA programs and Director of Marketing at the school, recently spoke to PaGaLGuY about the program’s unique qualities that set it apart from other B-schools. In this Q&A session, we cover topics such as the school’s global curriculum, its challenges during the pandemic, its approach to admitting students and preparing them for recruitment, and its focus on post-MBA career support.

Q: Could you share your journey in the education field, especially your role as the admissions head at the McDonough School of Business?

Admissions is not a career path that you think of as an option when you’re in college, but after a few years of graduating college, I got a job working for a University and from then on, realized that I wanted to be involved in education. I believe that education has the power to transform people’s lives and help them achieve their professional and personal goals. I fell in love with admissions in 2010 and have been passionate about it ever since. I even went back to get an Executive MBA from Georgetown because I wanted to better understand the language and knowledge that people with MBAs possessed. Interviewing individuals from various parts of the globe, learning about their aspirations, witnessing their enrollment at a well-resourced institution like Georgetown, and subsequently catching up with them 5 or 10 years down the line to learn about their accomplishments is an incredibly fulfilling experience. The overall journey in the education field for me has been incredible so far.

Q What sets the McDonough School of Business apart from the other leading B-School?

The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University stands out from other business schools in several ways. First, the school has a global reputation and represents over 40 countries in its program. A third of the faculty hold international passports, and the curriculum focuses on global case studies, providing a truly international learning experience. Additionally, all students participate in a worldwide consulting expertise, allowing them to consult for an international client.

The school’s location in Washington, DC, is another factor that sets it apart. DC is a melting pot of international culture, with 175 embassies, a diverse cuisine, and a vibrant community of people from around the world. The city also boasts a mix of for-profit and nonprofit organizations, making it an excellent place for networking and professional growth.

The school also teaches business at the intersection of key issues such as policy, sustainability, data analytics, and morepreparing students to lead organizations at a higher strategic level. Finally, the class size is smaller than other schools, with only 250 students, allowing for greater one-on-one attention from the faculty, career centre staff, and employers. This size also means that students have access to more opportunities and are not left out due to competition from a larger student population.

Q: What have been your significant challenges during the COVID-19 times on the admissions front?

As an innovator, I see challenges as opportunities for growth. Admissions have faced testing challenges and the inability for students to visit campus during the COVID-19 restrictions and travel costs. To combat these challenges, we have developed alternative testing options and virtual ways to introduce prospective students to Georgetown. Our recently held hybrid in-person event for admitted students was a success, with over half of the attendees joining from other countries who may have yet to be able to attend in normal circumstances. We’ve had to innovate and prepare students for a remote work environment, as many companies plan to continue working remotely. These changes are a natural evolution of what’s happening today.

Q: What are some of the tangible and intangible benefits of the MBA program, and how does the program prepare students for the recruitment process?

The Career Center at Georgetown McDonough works closely with students before the program starts to prepare them for recruitment. The centre offers training in building an MBA resume, accomplishments record, and cover letter. The Career Center also provides feedback and edits to ensure that students are prepared with a complete portfolio before the recruitment process starts, thus avoiding the hassle of juggling classwork and career decisions simultaneously.

During July, students call their career advisors to discuss their interests and goals. For students with clear goals, the conversation revolves around the recruitment process, schedule, clubs, and events. There is a career clarification coach to guide students who are still exploring their interests. Every Friday in the fall, the program holds a career day based on industry, where alumni and employers provide an overview of their industries.

The MBA program also offers job search courses and assigns a career coach to each student. The career coach is an industry professional who provides a personal touch, and students can meet with them as much or as little as they want. The MBA program offers tangible and intangible benefits, including employment statistics, average salaries, and signing bonuses that can be used to pay off educational loans, as well as intangible benefits such as gaining new skills, confidence, decision-making abilities, and an extensive network. Though intangible benefits may be hard to quantify, they are accurate and valuable.

Q: What are the criteria and approach used by the program to admit students, and what support are you extending for their post-MBA careers?

The program’s approach to gauging fit has remained the same, as they still seek competitive candidates who are active and engaged in the community. The program expects students to take on leadership roles, participate in case competitions, and provide pro-bono consulting for non-profit clients. The program seeks highly engaged students who will become involved alumni and give back to the community. While considering a student’s potential post-MBA career, they recognize that this can change based on opportunities in the industry. Ultimately, the program admits students based on their character, values, intellectual capacity, and global diversity.

Q: Georgetown University has been quite active in the field of sustainability; how do you see that focus take shape in the near future?

The emergence of green jobs and the need for educational programs that prepare students for sustainability leadership has become more prominent in recent years. Georgetown University recognized this need and launched a new master’s degree program, the M.S. in Environment and Sustainability Management, that combines business knowledge with science and environmental knowledge. The program was created to produce graduates who can take on leadership roles in the growing field of sustainability. When the program was launched, its demand exceeded expectations, with 100 applications received in the first round alone. This success showed a need for educational programs that prepare students for the sustainability jobs of the future. Georgetown is continuing to invest in sustainability education by hiring more professors and even launching new degrees in sustainability. Georgetown McDonough also offers an MBA Certificate in Sustainable Business. This is just one example of the growing ecosystem of sustainability education and leadership.

Q: Do you plan to open an India campus in the future?

You know the world is ebbing and flowing and changing, right; as countries’ economies change, the need to develop skilled workers change, travel challenges change, and visa challenges change. Business schools have to respond to that, and as we see specific demand from markets changing as any product would, we have to respond to that, so stay tuned; that’s all I have to say.

Q: What are some ways for international students who cannot travel to Georgetown to engage with the university, and how does their level of engagement impact their likelihood of being admitted?

International students who are unable to travel to Georgetown can still engage with the university through virtual webinars and chatting with student ambassadors, current Indian students, and alums. Reciting information from the website is not enough to stand out in the application process; instead, engaging with the university through virtual events and connecting with students and alumni shows a level of effort that suggests a higher likelihood of attendance if admitted. This level of engagement can be done from the students’ home countries, such as India.


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