Undergraduate Degree: BSE, Biomedical Engineering and Biology, Duke University
Why did you choose your program and area of study?
As an undergraduate student, I was primarily focused on graduate school opportunities in the science and medical fields. However, pretty soon after graduating I realized I wanted to join the workforce, but with the goal to apply my science background in a broader business context. In that sense, the MEM program was extremely helpful in two ways. One, it gave me exposure to more business-focused courses like Accounting, Marketing and Corporate Finance that I didn’t take as an undergrad. Two, I learned how to go about the job search in the most effective way and how to position my strengths and skills as the right fit for the different job positions of interest.
Briefly describe your Duke Experience.
I was an engineering undergrad student at Duke, so I was very familiar with the campus, Pratt, and the university environment by the time I started the program. However, MEM proved to be a unique experience all on its own, with a large and diverse class size, really interesting seminar and workshop programs, and exposure to a wide range of courses outside the engineering department. I was able to merge the best of my experiences from my prior 4 years at Duke, with the unique flavor of the MEM program.
What impact has the degree had on your career?
Coming into MEM, I had an interest in working in finance, but was well aware of the typical recruiting process for finance jobs in the US and had reservations on how I would approach this being an applicant with a non-traditional background. MEM was able to help me break into finance in two ways. One, courses like Accounting and Corporate Finance allowed me to demonstrate I could pick up the basic concepts needed in this field. Two, I learned how to frame my science background as a unique strength, and effectively answer how my lack of business/finance undergraduate degree was not a weakness. Entering the job application process for these jobs, I was able to effectively communicate my goals and strengths in written format, and secure interviews that allowed me to further demonstrate my capabilities in face-to-face meetings.
What advice would you give to prospective applicants - those who are just beginning to explore graduate options at Duke?
Reach out to admissions officers or alumni of the graduate options you are interested in to learn first-hand about the program. The admissions staff are extremely welcoming and they are there to answer your questions, so use them as a resource. And many programs will have designated students for prospective students to reach out to, but even if not, do not be afraid to reach out to alumni on LinkedIn and do the appropriate research to find the best program for you.
What advice would you give to admitted students who are considering Duke?
Take the time and effort to research everything about the programs to see if it the best fit for you. In particular, compare/contrast aspects like unique student experiences and the city/regional location of the school. Making sure that you can effectively answer to yourself why the program is best for you, not just why you are best for the program, and this will help ensure that you maximize your educational experience.