Funding Graduate School

I majored in history as an undergrad, but as many of us know, plans change. During my senior year, I decided to pursue a career in brand management. Shortly after making this decision, I received an email from McIntire Graduate Programs Office outlining the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) Program. I was instantly interested, considering how valuable Master’s in Commerce from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce would be for me personally.

At the same time, I wondered how in the world I would pay for grad school. This question inevitably comes to the minds of both students and parents. Funding my graduate education was an important factor, and during my decision process, I spent weeks evaluating my options. During this time, I learned that McIntire offers a variety of financial aid options, from departmental scholarships (both need- and merit-based) to part-time employment opportunities. It’s important to understand the various types of financial aid available when deciding whether the MSC is the right move.

Scholarships

Nearly 20% of our current class received a departmental scholarship, and scholarship amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000, including both need- and merit-based options.

The MSC Program also offers the Julian H. Robertson Scholarship, which is given to one student (based either on need or merit), and covers full tuition, room, and boarding, along with travel expenses for GIE.

While Feb. 1 was the formal deadline for scholarship applications, the admissions team is on your side, so do not hesitate to reach out to them regarding financial issues that you may have.

Private Loan Plan

Although the thought of a loan may seem daunting, many students enroll in private loan programs to help cover their tuition. Finishing school in debt is never ideal, so it’s incredibly important to consider the terms, interest rates, and fees while making this decision to estimate the amount of time it will take to pay back the amount of money borrowed.

When making these estimates, it may be helpful to consider the MSC Destinations Report to get an idea of the range of salaries recently offered to MSC students after graduation.

Part-Time Employment Opportunities

The McIntire Graduate Office also offers a variety of part-time jobs and internships that provide students with additional financial support. These opportunities also give students awesome business experience and allow them to develop closer relationships with the broader McIntire community.

Social Media Internship

The MSC social media internship pays students on an hourly basis to develop and maintain McIntire’s social media presence. Social media interns write blogs, publish Instagram and Facebook posts, and help develop an overall strategy that drives traffic to various social media platforms.

While the interns are certainly required to put in their best work, it is only a part-time job (approximately 5 hours each week), and is very flexible based on each intern’s school workload. Interning with the social media team is perfect for students interested in marketing careers, and working with the social media team has given me valuable hands-on experience that has helped me better navigate my job search.

Graduate Assistant

Working as a graduate assistant is another part-time employment opportunity available. In this role, students work a few hours a week providing support and assistance to the graduate and admissions teams. Students in this role carry out in administrative tasks, help plan events, and help with recruiting efforts by assisting in communication with potential students.

This role is great experience for students who want to work in a part-time job that is really flexible. Grad assistants can even schedule their own hours! Further, the job offers a great opportunity to develop closer relationships with the graduate and admissions teams.

Teacher’s Assistant

Last but not least, McIntire offers a variety of teacher assistant opportunities that also pay on an hourly basis. TAs assist undergraduate McIntire professors with grading tests and papers, updating class websites, and helping professors conduct research.

This job is an awesome experience for students to expand their skill set. For instance, by working closely with Professor and Director of the Galant Center for Entrepreneurship David Touve as a TA, MSC student Emmanuel Abebrese has been able to develop new skills such as web design and event planning. The TA position is also a great way to build relationships with undergraduate students and professors.

When weighing the costs and benefits of the MSC Program, it’s really important to understand these financial aid options. However, it’s just as important to fully understand the many long-term benefits the MSC provides with regard to both job placement and salary increases over time. After being in the program for over six months, I can confirm that the investment has absolutely been worth it for me.

-Written by Katie Nell Taylor

Academic Overview: Marketing & Management

After a restful winter break, the MS-Commers headed back to Charlottesville for a semester of track-specific courses. This is the first of three academic overview blogs, each of which will provide an extensive overview of what life is like spring semester in each of the three M.S. in Commerce tracks: Marketing & Management (M&M), Business Analytics and Finance. Up first: M&M.

Q: Do all M&M students take the same classes?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have classes at the same time?

A: Yes, each class is comprised of all 41 M&M students (that number may change slightly in the future based on each year’s class size).

Q: Do I have to choose from a list of available classes?

A: No, all students take the same four M&M classes. We’ll go into more detail about each of them in a bit.

Q: How does the schedule compare to first semester?

A: To give you a better idea of what a typical week looks like, check out Ryan’s Google calendar:

MM Overview

A cont.: The biggest change from last semester is that the course schedule for each week is exactly the same. The calendar above will go unchanged from now until April. You’ll also notice that  a couple days a week classes start later in the afternoon, so it is common for M&M students to grab a coffee and schedule group meetings and/or do their homework in the grad lounge before class starts. Also, because they end later in the day than we used to, they’ll sometimes go get lunch or dinner together on the Corner after class gets out for the day.

Q: How are the courses different from first semester?

A:  In the first semester, all students, regardless of track, participate in the “Integrated Core Experience” or “ICE” in which they take an array of courses in subjects such as strategy, finance, accounting, marketing and quantitative analysis, among others.

The second semester is a little different. All of the courses (with the exception of Foundations of Global Commerce,* which all tracks take) cover various topics within marketing. These courses are intended to equip students with the analytical and communication skills necessary to deliver data-driven insights in a clear, engaging manner. It is also important to remember the “management” component of the track. M&M students will complete various group projects ranging from brand audits to raising money for a non-profit gala , all of which require students to hold themselves accountable and deliver results by working in diverse teams.

Here’s a brief overview of what each of them is about:

  • Creating Value in B2B Markets (M/W): This course focuses on how students can unlock their potential to make contributions both within and across organizations by developing mutually beneficial relationships with inspiring, like-minded individuals. They will be hosting (and marketing) a gala in April to which our mentors will be invited.
  • Pricing & Consumer Behavior (T/R): This is an awesome class, especially for those who studied the social sciences in undergrad. Students focus on consumers’ attitudes and perceptions in the retail space and how they might influence these perceptions by implementing certain pricing strategies (such as a sale or coupon). They are even required to go to stores and see how these strategies are implemented in the real world.
  • Brand Management (T): In this class students learn all about what is involved with branding (hint: it’s more than just designing a cool logo) and how managers ensure that a company’s brand is communicated to consumers across various channels. Over the course of the semester, they will be conducting brand audit on struggling brands such as Volkswagen and JCPenney and implementing the concepts they learn to make actionable recommendations for improvement.
  • Social Media Marketing & Metrics (R): In this class, the homework is literally to tweet! Students discuss how companies are leveraging various social media platforms to reach consumers where they are and how they measure how social media is integrated into a larger marketing strategy. The course also focuses on how companies can measure the effectiveness of their posts in terms of meeting their marketing goals.

For course descriptions and more information about what the M&M track has to offer, click here.

Q: Who should consider applying to the M&M track?

The nice thing about marketing and management is that they are such broad industries that the skills you acquire will serve you well in a variety of fields.

For example, Ryan, on of our bloggers, is going to work in promotions, whereas Logan is looking at ad agencies and Katie Nell is interested in brand strategy. There are also students on the M&M track who are going into management consulting and non-profit work.

If you are someone who enjoys marrying creative thinking with quantitative insights and are looking to set yourself apart in terms of your ability to derive and communicate meaningful insights, then M&M is likely a good fit for you. M&M students become creative thinkers on the cutting edge of technology of current events. Then they take it a step further and develop the ability to justify their ideas by conducting thorough analyses and research.

In Sum

The second semester looks very different for M&M students, but the emphasis on experiential learning, group work and classroom engagement all carry over from the fall. The top performers in this track are the ones with a natural curiosity and a desire to exercise both creative and analytical thinking. Sound like you? Then you may very well be a future M&M student.

All in all, the spring semester is shaping up to be an interesting and hands-on learning experience for the M&M students. Stay tuned for updates and the inside scoop on the Finance and Business Analytics tracks.

-Written by Ryan Riccordella

*Foundations of Global Commerce is an intensive course that encourages students to understand the global economy via class discussion and reading current events. After completing the course, all students will be much better prepared to understand the role their GIE regions play in a global context.

A Look Into Our Brand Extension Project

On the last day of fall semester, we presented our Brand Extension Project, which was our final group assignment in our Marketing and Quantitative Analysis class. Over the past few days, I’ve realized that the project was a perfect bridge into our new spring semester track-specific classes.

Before starting the M.S. in Commerce program, I believed creativity was the most valuable skill for marketing professionals. While this project certainly did require creativity, it also revealed that successful marketing and branding efforts rely heavily on quantitative skills and data analytics. As we worked on the project, following Professor Netemeyer’s expertise and guidance, we realized that it is impossible to fully understand marketing as a whole without a solid foundation in quantitative analysis.

So I decided to give you all a breakdown of the project, which I think gives an awesome look into the diverse skillsets required in a successful real life marketing campaign:

  1. Creativity – Crafting the Brand Extension

To kick off the project, each group chose a brand and created an original product or service that the brand could offer. Our brand extension ideas spread across the board, thanks to the creative thinking of many team members. My group chose to create a Starbucks coffee creamer (who knew it didn’t already exist?!). Some other group ideas included Nike tennis racquets, Red Bull energy bars, Yankee Candle body wash, and Under Armour men’s work wear.

  1. Strategy – Assessing the Competitive Space

We met with Professor Netemeyer to discuss the viability of our brand extension idea, and he challenged us to consider all possibilities and limitations. We then worked with our group to analyze our product’s position within the competitive landscape. We drafted an industry evaluation, company and competitor overview, and SWOT analysis. My group chose to compare Starbucks with Dunkin Donuts, a major competitor, and to analyze the coffee creamer industry as a whole. Without this phase of the project and our team members’ abilities to think strategically, it would have been impossible to give our creative brand extension idea any significant context.

  1. Research – Conducting the Survey

We then used strategic writing skills, along with research methods that we learned in class, to create a survey. It included two pages of questions, assessing things like the perceptions of the product/service as well as the brand, the attributes most likely driving purchase, demographics of interest, and managerial metrics, including self report wallet share and price sensitivity. After receiving advice and approval from Professor Netemeyer, we sent the survey out, and each team received over 100 responses.

  1. Quantitative Skills and Statistics – Analyzing the Results

Thanks to our quantitative-minded team members (you Business Analytics and Finance people know who you are), we cleaned up the raw data to prepare for extensive analysis, including t-test and ANOVA hypothesis testing. Based on the results, we developed a regression-based model that gave us the important metrics of interest to inform our decisions. First, the model gave us hard data to reveal whether or not our product would be successful against its competitor, and second, it showed us exactly how we should market the product.

  1. Creativity, Strategy, and Quantitative Skills – Forming and Presenting the Product

After the quantitative analysis, we had the hard data to make comprehensive and justified recommendations for our brand extension. For instance, we learned that Starbucks coffee creamer would indeed outperform Dunkin Donuts coffee creamer, and the most important metrics of success were quality (made up of both price and taste) and nutrition. Because of this, we priced the creamer slightly above competitors’, designed packaging that embodied Starbucks’ quality brand, and made the product the lowest-calorie option in the market.

During our final presentations, it was clear that the success of this project relied upon the diverse skillsets within each team. However, while we each gravitated towards functions that best matched our believed strengths, we all were completely involved throughout each step of the process. I generally tend to shift towards creative and big picture roles, but I found myself fascinated with the quantitative analysis. The data we collected and analyzed formed the entire foundation to support our final creative ideas. Without a data-supported foundation, marketing is ill-directed and ultimately useless.

This project was a valuable hands-on experience that gave us a glimpse into a real world, integrated marketing campaign. For those who think marketing careers are limited to creative people, you are mistaken!

-Written by Katie Nell Taylor

Hard at work analyzing the survey results!
Hard at work analyzing the survey results!
The Bud Light Rita crew is excited to present their findings to the rest of section 2!
The Bud Light Rita crew is excited to present their findings to the rest of section 2!
Group 1J pose for a picture after presenting their Starbuck's brand extension project.
Group 1J pose for a picture after presenting their Starbuck’s brand extension project.

NYC Marketing Trip: McIntire Takes on the Concrete Jungle

 Last week, select McIntire students, including us (Katie Nell and Ryan), had the opportunity to visit companies and network with alumni all throughout New York City as part of an annual marketing trip sponsored by Commerce Career Services.

The trip is intended to give students exposure to a variety of roles in marketing so that they might determine the type of position and corporate culture that is best suited for their skills and interests. It’s not every day that someone has the opportunity to visit the likes of Red Bull, Google, and Twitter, but we were given access to all of these cool companies and more! Here’s a quick overview of each of our visits:

Wednesday, January 13

Red Bull


  • Red Bull – Our first stop gave us wiiiings! We met with a Red Bull marketing director, who filled us in on the unconventional and extreme methods that Red Bull employs to market its product in a way that is consistent with the brand (remember when that guy jumped out of the stratosphere? Red Bull made that happen). Red Bull offers both internship and full-time opportunities, some of which have already been filled by UVA students!
  • Google – Google is one of the coolest and most powerful companies in the world. It’s also home to many McIntire alumni who are accomplishing great things in marketing. At Google, we learned about how Google’s sales team works with small and medium-sized businesses to understand their unique challenges and educate them about how Google’s tools can be solutions for them. We also got to see Google’s free cafeteria and nap pods. Those were cool too.
  • Sullivan & Company – Sullivan is a brand engagement firm founded by Barbara Sullivan, a UVA parent, who, like many other employers, has been so impressed with the high caliber of UVA students and actively recruiting them. Sullivan works with brands to articulate and refine their identities while determining the correct channels and touchpoints clients can use to deliver a unique, well-branded experience. We were all impressed with Sullivan as well!
Thursday, January 14
  • Kate Spade – We began our second day at Kate Spade, learning about marketing in the fashion world. Kate Spade Chief Marketing Officer Mary Renner Beech kicked off a panel with an intriguing presentation that gave us a look into the exciting work her team does to develop the global marketing strategy, creative ideas and communications for Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade brands. We learned about Kate Spade’s entrepreneurial beginnings, met two of Kate Spade’s talented designers, and learned how the marketing team has effectively maintained a consistent brand that embodies the “Kate Spade girl.”
McIntire 3rd year and M.S. in Commerce students gather together during their visit at Kate Spade
McIntire 3rd year and M.S. in Commerce students gather together during their visit at Kate Spade
The colorful and inspiring entrance at the Kate Space NYC Office
The colorful and inspiring entrance at the Kate Space NYC Office
  • Watercooler Group – Our next stop was Watercooler Group, a leader in entertainment marketing that focuses on understanding and appealing to the media consumer. Watercooler Group was unique from the other companies we visited because its marketing initiatives are designed for clients in the media industry, namely major television networks. It was also one of the smallest companies we saw. Everyone seemed to know everyone and worked collaboratively on most projects.
  • Snap + Style – To end our day, we headed up to HYFN, a digital creative agency whose NYC office is at the 62nd floor of the Empire State Building! The visit focused on one of HYFN’s newest clients, Snap + Style, and Co-Founder Anna Jensen walked us through her inspiration behind this awesome fashion start-up. The app connects users to stylists in real time to offer styling recommendations by pairing users’ wardrobes with clothes and accessories for purchase. To make the visit even better, we got to hear from Ellie Reed, an M.S. in Commerce grad who started working as the Social Media Coordinator of Snap + Style right after graduation. We were all in awe of their ideas behind Snap + Style, and when we left, we were all convinced that this start-up is absolutely going to be the next big thing!
The incredible view from the HYFN office in the Empire State building
The incredible view from the HYFN office in the Empire State building
Friday, January 15
  • A&E Networks – We began our final day with an exciting visit to A+E Networks, thanks to the UVA alumni that work at the network. Lifetime’s programming, social media, and advertising teams walked us through their work on Lifetime’s hit series, Bring it! It was awesome to see all of the moving parts that go into running a TV network, and their presentations gave us valuable insights on what marketing careers look like within the entertainment industry. To top the visit off, they gave each of us a selfie stick!
  • Analytic Partners – We walked down the street a few blocks to visit Analytic Partners, a market research and analytic consulting group. The visit revealed that Analytic Partners is a fascinating company different from any other analytics firm. Just one team handles everything— from collecting the data, to analyzing the data, to presenting solutions to clients. The visit helped us realize that when working somewhere like Analytic Partners, storytelling and communication abilities are just as valuable as quantitative skills.
  • Twitter – Last but not least, we headed back to Chelsea to visit the Twitter office, which exceeded our already high expectations. The panel was hosted by multiple UVA alumni who work in marketing roles at Twitter. The panelists voiced how every day, their work is challenging, rewarding, and fun. They then gave us a behind-the-scenes look into many of Twitter’s recent social media campaigns, including Twitter’s work with Dove in its #SpeakBeautiful campaign and with NBA on TNT in its NBA fashion show. The visit revealed the value and versatility of Twitter as an advertising platform.
Bobby Grasberger, UVA alum and Brand Strategy Manger at Twitter, speaks with students about the exciting work he and his team have done at Twitter
Bobby Grasberger, UVA alum and Brand Strategy Manger at Twitter, speaks with students about the exciting work he and his team have done at Twitter
The group really had #fun on our #visit to Twitter
The group really had #fun on our #visit to Twitter
We quickly learned that UVA alums at Twitter #lovewheretheywork
We quickly learned that UVA alums at Twitter #lovewheretheywork

-Written by Katie Nell & Ryan

Essay Talk

They don’t want you to write an awkward admissions essay.

No, really. They don’t. It would be a total bummer because they (the M.S. in Commerce admissions team) are actually rooting for you.

So, here are a few major keys to writing a killer personal essay. I’ve always kind of wrestled with personal writing, so hopefully, you can learn from my struggles.

key

 

 

START EARLY. Oh man, start early. I’m one of those well-intentioned procrastinators who starts planning early but then keeps planning and planning and planning until the essay is due next Monday and I have one paragraph and five pages of notes. If you’re anything like me, give yourself plenty of time to mull over the prompts and devise your genius answers before you start typing. That’s actually something that the professors tell us to do frequently on assignments (e.g., “Start the exam by thinking, not writing”). So really, you’d be following instructions before even meeting the professors! A+


keykey

 

The good news is that you’ve done this before. Admissions essays, I mean. You pretty much know the drill: Use expressive language; be yourself; avoid grammar mistakes. In other news, that was four years ago! You were a little tiny baby, only 17, and you knew a lot less than you do now. So, your personal essay skills may be a little rusty, but you also have a lot more material, which is good, because these essays are super important. They can save you from lower GMAT scores (*like mine*) if you can convey your genuine and determined interest in the program. So glean confidence from the fact that (a) you’ve successfully done this before, and (b) you have so much more to write about!

(P.S. As preparation for writing these essays, I strongly advise you to look at your college admissions essays. Just do it, because I guarantee you’ll find them hilarious at this point. Enough time has passed. So you’ll have yourself a nice laugh, which will put you in a good mood to write these essays. Bam—inspiration. It worked for me!)

keykeykey

 

 

The time has come to adjust your thinking. This is not the Common App. This is different because grad school is not “necessary” in the same way that a lot of people feel an undergraduate college degree might be “necessary” these days. You’re here because you want to be. (And believe me, you need to really want to be in grad school to have a fulfilling experience there.) Whatever you studied in undergrad didn’t quite fulfill your academic desires, so you decided to go back to school. Why? I’d say that’s the most important thing to address head on: What makes you want to be here? Tell that story. What do you really love about this program? Research it! What do you want to be when you grow up? How will this program help you achieve your hopes and dreams for the future? Be completely honest. If you feel yourself faking it, stop writing and play outside for a while. That’s good advice.

keykeykeykey

 

 
So you finally cranked something out. You know how people are always saying that you should make sure your personality shines through? Well, the best way make your personality shine bright like a diamond is to ask a close friend to read your response. Ask your friend if those 250 words actually sound like words you would say. The last thing you want to do is submit a response devoid of feeling and full of predictable, robotic answers.

After this #PeerEdit, take a few days to re-read the response yourself and see if you really like it. Do this with integrity, but only second-guess yourself a couple of times. After a certain point, you’ve just got to go with it and trust yourself, because, like I said, the people reading these essays are really nice people who approach every single application as if the candidate is about to win them over. Prove them right by showing your awesome self. Have pity on these people who have to read hundreds of submissions by making your essay unique. “Unique” may sound daunting, but if it’s really you the readers hear coming through the page, that’s all you have to do…because you’re the only you there is! Dr. Seuss moment.

Oh, and get used to word limits—they are your new unyielding nemesis. :’)

-Written by Logan Steele

GMAT 101

GMAT, GRE, UVA…oh my!  With so many letters strung together, it may seem like a bowl of alphabet soup, especially if you throw in the SAT and ACT we remember from high school. But right now we’re focusing on the GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test. UVA’s M.S. in Commerce (MSC) Program accepts either the GMAT or the GRE, although the admissions office strongly prefers that prospective students take the GMAT. Interested in applying this year but haven’t thought about the GMAT yet? Not to worry! There are still four deadlines left, with the last one on June 1, 2016, so you still have plenty of time to study, take the test and apply.

As a quick rundown, the GMAT consists of four parts (analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning); typically takes around four hours to complete; and costs $250. You have 30 minutes to complete a response to the writing prompt, 30 minutes for 12 integrated reasoning questions, and 75 minutes each for both the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. You are also allowed two optional breaks, one after the integrated reasoning section, and another after the quantitative reasoning section.

Differences between other standardized tests: At first, I thought the GMAT would be similar to the SAT or ACT, but there are some major differences. The biggest difference is that the GMAT is a computer-adaptive test, meaning that as you complete the questions on the computer, it adjusts future questions and their difficulty based on how well you are doing. This can cause you to overthink how you’re doing and try to judge your score as you’re taking the exam, especially if you’re slightly anxious like I was. It also takes a little while to get used to the online format and where all the buttons are, so I highly recommend taking a few full online practice tests to get accustomed to the online structure (the official GMAT website has free materials and tests that you can take here). Another difference is that as soon as you finish your exam, you receive a printed copy of your unofficial score report, so there’s no waiting around and wondering how you did. However, keep in mind that it takes up to a few weeks to receive your official scores, so make sure you take that into account when deciding what application deadline you’re working toward.

Test atmosphere: The test-taking atmosphere can also be a bit intimidating since you’re basically in a computer lab with other students taking exams. You are given a pair of headphones to cancel out noise, as well as a dry erase notebook and pen to use for your scratch work. If you would like to take a break after a section, you must raise your hand so an administrator will come get you and bring you out; however, administrators scan your handprint any time you enter or leave the room.

Analytical writing: The writing section is given first, and you are asked to respond in essay format to a prompt you are given. This is pretty standard, and I found it to be very similar to the SAT. Most study guides will give you a few prompt examples and show you a template of how to structure your answers.

Integrated reasoning: I found the integrated reasoning section to be challenging, mainly due to time restrictions and the fact that no other standardized tests have a section quite like it, so the format was very different.

  • 12 multiple-choice questions
  • Multiple sources to analyze for each question (e.g., graphics, charts, tables or paragraphs)
  • Multiple questions about one source
  • Used as an indicator for those interested in MSC’s Business Analytics Track

Verbal reasoning: The verbal reasoning section is also similar to previous standardized tests you’ve taken.

  • 41 multiple-choice questions
  • Questions relate to sentence structure, reading comprehension, and grammar
  • Selection of both long and short passages to analyze

Now’s a great time to brush up on all those pesky grammar rules!

Quantitative Reasoning: This section was personally the most difficult for me, because I had not taken a math class since first semester of my freshman year of college. I was rusty to say the least.

  • 37 multiple-choice questions
  • Combination of all those math topics from high school you pushed out of your mind after you graduated (e.g., probabilities, fractions, geometry, and algebra)
  • Use the dry erase notebook and marker for scratch work

My personal experience: The advice that was most helpful, given to me by Emma Candelier, Director of Graduate Recruiting at McIntire, was to take a diagnostic test so that you can identify your problem areas, target your study approach to those areas, and therefore not waste time going over what you already know. I made the mistake of not doing this the first time I took the GMAT; I bought a prep book and went through the whole thing page by page, including the verbal reasoning section, which tends to be my strong suit. In doing so, I didn’t spend as much time as I could to prepare for my problem areas.

When preparing for the GMAT the second time, I got a tutor who helped me only in the areas where I needed the most practice and who had me complete two full-length tests so that I could also practice the other sections. What I found to be most helpful about working with a tutor was that I had to explain my thought process behind how I solved the problems and walk through the problems, which helped me identify where exactly I was getting tripped up. It was also a good way of targeting where I needed to be focusing my attention and of keeping me on track because I had a very limited amount of time to prepare to take the GMAT a second time. This brings me to a VERY important tip: Don’t forget that if you want to take the GMAT more than once, you have to wait a month before you’re eligible to take the test again (I ended up having only three days when I could retake the exam before my application was due and had to take it in Delaware instead of Pennsylvania, where I’m from).

Key takeaways:

  • Be confident in your abilities.
  • Practice from actual released GMAT materials.
  • Focus on areas where you need the most help.
  • Reach out to the staff at McIntire; they are there to help you and answer your questions. I spoke to Emma several times during my application process, and she helped me put forth my best application and gave me helpful advice.
  • And lastly, the GMAT is only one portion of your application. McIntire and the MSC Program are looking for well-rounded applicants who are passionate and will bring a unique perspective to the program, so don’t underestimate the importance of the essays.

Best of luck!

Jordan

Hello from the other side…. of New Year’s Eve!

We have to say, we’re going to miss 2015. It was an amazing year: we graduated college with our best friends, got into an elite graduate program and made awesome new friends. But you know what? We have a really good feeling about 2016 too. People are usually kidding when they say “This is going to be my year!” But not us. 2016 has so much in store. We’re  going to graduate grad school, go on our GIE adventures for 28 days in May/June, begin our careers, move to new cities…lots of exciting stuff, you guys!

All of us are really excited to begin our track courses in the spring. For those on the Marketing & Management track (like Ryan, Katie Nell and Logan), the spring courses are intended to help them solve creative and quantitative problems as they relate to marketing. They include Social Media Strategy & Metrics and Brand Management among others.  Jordan and the other students on the Business Analytics track will be learning all of the fancy tools (like Cloud Computing) that will set them apart in the workplace. One of the  most exciting courses for the BA students is Consumer Analytics (where they’ll be analyzing your every move…). As for the Finance track folks, they can look forward to diving into the numbers and doing real-world analyses with courses like Asset Management and Investment Banking.

Another great thing to look forward to next semester…no Friday classes! That gives us plenty of extra time to explore Charlottesville and bond with other students. You’ll find plenty of us on the Corner throughout the day, but we’re also looking forward to spending more time at the downtown mall and checking out parks and hiking trails once the weather warms up.  Oh, and we’ll also be drinking copious amounts of coffee at one of the many coffee shops in C’ville that Logan mentioned in her earlier blog.

Have we mentioned that we’re going abroad? Yea, we’re going abroad. GIE is an important part of the MSC curriculum as it teaches us how to make sense of the global economy and the roles our regions of interest play in it. Ryan and Jordan are headed to Latin America, Logan is off to Europe and Katie Nell is going to East Asia! We also have students going to Southeast Asia and IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa). Get ready for loads of pictures from each of the tracks because they’re coming.

Upon our stateside return, we’ll all be starting our new careers more qualified and prepared than ever! There were several MSC students who secured employment during the first semester. Among them are Jordan, who will be working in New York as a technology advisor for Ernst & Young, and Ryan who will be returning to North Carolina to work for Inmar, a commerce analytics company, as an Assistant Marketing Manager.  

More recruiting happens in the spring, so Logan, Katie Nell and the remaining 80% of the MS-Commers, are chomping at the bit to land jobs as well. And boy are they prepared after the first semester! Logan would like to work in an ad agency and is already networking away! As for Katie Nell, she’s looking for marketing strategy positions in NYC or DC. She’s wisely participating in the NYC marketing trip next week through Commerce Career Services and will be networking with alumni at companies like Twitter, Redbull and Kate Spade!

We are so fortunate to have had an incredible 2015 and cannot wait to share 2016 with you all. 2016 can be as special as a year for you as 2015 was for us! We’ll be sure to keep you updated on all of the goings on around McIntire, and as always, we’re here for you to field any and all questions about the MSC program!

Happy New Year,

Your MSC Bloggers

We’re Halfway There: A Reflection

Hello, readers!

Your favorite bloggers wanted to share some of our experiences from the first semester in the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) program. We reflect on what surprised us (in good ways and bad), our biggest takeaways, some of our most best memories, how the program has measured up to our initial expectations, and how MSC has changed us. We hope these reflections give you a truly intimate perspective on what it feels like to be halfway done with graduate school!

Ryan Riccordella

The first half of the MSC program actually exceeded my expectations. Going into the program, I expected a fast-paced, rigorous course load and the opportunity to interact with a really smart and diverse group of people. I got all of that and more.

First off, the level of faculty engagement was unlike anything I’ve ever seen (and my professors in undergrad were pretty amazing). Never before have I interacted with professors so accessible and willing to answer questions, discuss career interests or just chat. Some faculty members even extended invitations to their homes for Thanksgiving dinner for students who were unable to go home during break!

In addition to the great people, the resources and network that McIntire boasts are unrivaled. It seems like every day there are alumni from companies across the country talking about their experiences and looking for new prospects. You must be doing something right if that many alumni are so eager to come back! I’m already looking for excuses to get back to C’ville next year 😉

Moving into next semester, I feel more confident in my ability to analyze and solve business problems. I also feel that, as a result of this program, I am a better communicator and a better teammate. I’ve learned that I do better work when I’m having fun and am relaxed (i.e. not crammed in the library like I was in undergrad) so I’ll definitely be interacting with my fellow “MS Comm-ers” all throughout next semester.

In case I haven’t made it exceedingly clear, I am so glad that I am in this program. I feel beyond prepared to be a powerhouse in the workplace and I could not recommend the program highly enough. If you’re on the fence, don’t be…do it!

Here’s to a great second half!

Katie Nell Taylor

August 1st seems like just yesterday, but we have all come so far since then. While there were many things that I expected going into the program, it has far exceeded my expectations in so many ways.

What I expected:

Throughout the application process, I talked to both students and admissions counselors, who warned me of the intensity of the program. This was part of the reason I applied. I wanted to be challenged and that is exactly what I got. We completed nine courses, and nearly 20 hours in our first semester, and we have all worked extremely hard and learned so much. The first semester definitely met the expectations I had academically.

A few things that surprised me:

I am constantly surprised by just how incredible both the students and professors are. I felt like any graduate program would be extremely competitive, but I have realized that while my classmates are competitive with themselves, they genuinely want each other to succeed as well. Having classmates that are in it with you has made the experience SO much more fulfilling, and the workload so much more manageable.

I was also pleasantly surprised how my first choice for GIE changed since starting the program. In August, I felt sure that Europe would be my top choice. I had traveled to many countries in Europe before, and it seemed comfortable yet exciting. But after getting to know so many students from different parts of the world, and learning so much about the significance of unfamiliar countries to the entire global economy, the decision became more challenging as each choice grew more appealing. I am so excited to be going to E. Asia, and it’s pretty cool to think that just months ago, I may not have even ranked E. Asia as one of my top choices.

I have grown in so many ways since starting the program. My career goals have shifted as I’ve learned about so many different areas of marketing that I didn’t even know existed. I’ve realized the value of working as a team through challenges to achieve success. And I have started to see aspects of business strategy, wherever I am, even when I’m not looking for it. It’s fulfilling to look back and realize how much our work has paid off.

Logan Steele

Hi, everyone! It’s Logan, and it’s been 12 days since my last Microsoft Word document. And with 12 days of distance from my first semester in the MSC program, I have a confession to make. I’m also counting the days until I return to Charlottesville for the second semester (23 days!). So embarrassing. What a nerd.

Why am I doing that? A countdown to the end of school seems normal, and I’m not going to lie to you: I totally did that, too. This program has presented me with the biggest academic challenges I have ever faced. So why have I subconsciously started a countdown to the start of school? Well, I think MSC has slowly converted me into one of those people who weirdly craves a challenge. You know, that annoying fake line you’re supposed to slap somewhere in your cover letter: “Oh yeah, I just love to be constantly challenged!” Uh huh, sure, I used to think.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I couldn’t face a challenge before this program. (I went to UVA undergrad. School has been rigorous for a while.) The difference now is that, after a semester at McIntire, I feel calmer about challenges—more prepared, kind of? Even a little (wow, this is embarrassing) excited to show people what I can do? It’s like…I know that my professors are going to guide me out of my comfort zone with assignments and tests and projects and presentations, but…I did all that last semester when I had essentially no confidence, so I can definitely do it again this coming semester.

This still probably sounds phony to you, but I promise it’s true. I really feel proud of how much I’ve grown. (It’s weird to write that and have it not be fake.) I think the main reason I’ve started to feel this way has been those professors. More often than not this past semester, I would read an assignment’s instructions and think, “Okay, so…wait, what?” But these McIntire professors…they actually do that cliché teacher thing where they show you that you’re capable of more than you thought. They’re so supportive, and they want so much success for each and every one of us. Honestly, we hit the faculty jackpot. (That’s not even to mention the insanely amazing Career Services and Graduate Programs offices. I’m telling you, the support you feel here is unreal.)

Also…I love my MSC friends! I just need to throw in here that you’ll make amazing friends in this program. Everyone in MSC is smart and fun and nice and just awesome. I’d call us a tight knit group for sure: we commiserate together and celebrate together! At the risk of sounding even more cliché, I really can’t wait to see everyone in January and start making more MSC memories!!!

Jordan Smith

Coming into this program, I was beyond excited. I would be getting the chance to attend my dream school since high school and from the blog posts I had read and the information session I attended the program seemed perfect for me. As Ryan mentioned, it was everything I thought it would be, and more!

I can honestly say that I was surprised by how quickly I adjusted to a new state, a new campus and a new school. I completed my undergrad education at Lehigh, which was only an hour and 15 minutes away from home so it was weird suddenly being six hours away.  Within only a few days, however, Charlottesville felt familiar and natural to call home when talking to family and friends. It was like I had always belonged here and there was no homesickness or anything, I just felt completely content and happy and I absolutely cannot wait to go back to school (that’s a weird thought right? Especially since throughout undergrad I always wished my break were longer).

I will say that grad school is not like undergrad; you definitely work hard and the assignments are meant to challenge you and you will be confused at times. I’ll admit I’ve been closer to pulling all-nighters this past semester than in undergrad, although I always make sure to at least get a few hours of sleep (and supplement the rest with coffee). However, you find that the craziness is enjoyable, you’re surrounded by people in the same boat as you and it just becomes a strengthening and bonding experience, that now we’re all able to joke about. It teaches you that you can handle so much more than you ever thought you could.

The faculty is unlike any I have met before; they are all willing to help you in any way they can; be it giving you advice on career decisions, helping you prepare for case interviews, or just being there when you feel stressed. They truly care about all students as individuals. A concept that is extremely impressive considering you only take some classes for a few weeks. Likewise, Commerce Career Services has gone above and beyond my expectations. I have felt extremely comfortable dropping in or calling them up for a quick question at any time, as well as, scheduling appointments to take about my future and have my resume reviewed.

After the first half of this program, I have gained so much self-confidence in not only my academic abilities but the direction of my future and my independence as well.  I’ve gotten so much more confident in my quantitative abilities, which is saying something since before this program the last math class I took was first semester freshmen year in college. I’ve even learned to love computer programming through Business Analytics, which I’m sure my family and friends are equally as surprised about as I am.  All in all, I cannot recommend this program enough! It has driven me so much and I’ve grown so much, not only academically but personally as well. Goo Hoos!!

Happy New Year!!

-Written by your MSC bloggers

Season’s Greetings From Your MSC Bloggers!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! After a semester full of new experiences, challenges and friendships, it’s time for us M.S. in Commerce (MSC) students to take a much-deserved break for the holidays. Classes may be out for a month, but we still have lots of business to take care of between now and January 20th: tree decorating, cookie baking, eggnog drinking, New Year’s celebrating…it just never ends!

To all you seniors out there applying to the MSC program, we hope that your final winter break as an undergraduate is both productive and relaxing. Keep an eye on those application requirements and deadlines , but also take some time to slow down, enjoy reconnecting with friends and family and reflect upon what you’ve accomplished this year!

As always, feel free to reach out to any of us during the holidays if you have any questions! Before we sign off, our bloggers would like to pass on some holiday well-wishes from their families to yours:

Ryan’s Christmas tree isn’t short on school spirit!
Ryan’s Christmas tree isn’t short on school spirit!

 

Ryan Riccordella

Happy Holidays, everyone! It’s hard to believe that it’s already winter break! This past semester was a whirlwind…and I mean that in the best possible way. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a short period of time. With the first half of the MSC program under my belt, I’m definitely looking forward to slowing things down for a bit.

Ryan’s dog, Cinnamon, is glad to have Ryan back home. She’s not as excited about the Santa hat.
Ryan’s dog, Cinnamon, is glad to have Ryan back home. She’s not as excited about the Santa hat.

Here in New Jersey, it’s a little bit cooler than it was in Charlottesville.  It looks like there’s even a chance of a White Christmas this year (fingers crossed!) And if that’s not festive enough for you, as I write this post, my family is baking and getting ready to decorate the tree! I am so grateful to have a month of quality time with them. I’ve also gotten to reconnect with some old friends, and, most importantly, catch up on some hardcore cuddling with my dog.

I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season. Wherever you are, stay warm, stay merry and stay tuned for more MSC updates in the coming weeks!

Cheers,

Ryan

Jordan Smith

Jordan's dog completes the puppy Santa motif as a dozing Rudolph.
Jordan’s dog completes the puppy Santa motif as a dozing Rudolph.

It’s crazy looking back at the past 5 months or so. I don’t think I’ve ever been more content in my life. Since moving to Charlottesville I’ve met some of the most amazing people who support me, make me strive to do better and, most importantly, make me laugh and smile when I’m stressed out. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities and experiences that McIntire has given me; and as crazy as it is: Yes, I wish this program was longer.

Sending everyone lots of holiday cheer!

Jordan

Logan Steele

It is officially the most wonderful time of the year!! And not just because multiple winter holidays are coming up; our M.S. Comm 2016 class has finished our first semester and has no work to do over the break! Let me tell you, that is an incredible feeling. On my drive back home to my house (in McLean, VA) I managed to buy the last of my family’s presents, so I’m finally ready to wrap them up and stick them under our Christmas tree!

Now that I’m finally home, my Snapstory is exclusively pictures and videos of my dog, Noodle. He’s such a good boy! When I’m not with Noodle, I’m going to be visiting as many friends as possible over the break. I’ve already hit Baltimore, and I’m going to hike the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls tomorrow! Break is definitely off to a fun start. But I do plan on doing some “job stuff,” too: I’ll be sprucing up my resume and researching lots of companies…maybe even writing some networking emails? Hoo knows. What I do know is that I’m in for an rad five weeks.

Happy Holidays,

Logan

Logan and her family circa 2014
Logan and her family circa 2014

Katie Nell Taylor

Happy Holidays everyone! I just made it back home (which is Greenville, SC) to spend the next month with my parents, two brothers and little sister. I’m the oldest, so my other siblings have breaks as well! We’ll spend Christmas in Greenville but head to Charleston for New Years!

It’s a PJ party in the Taylor house.
It’s a PJ party in the Taylor house.

Being able to wind down has been incredible, and like everyone else I’m sure, I’m feeling a mix of emotions. I’m beyond excited to be finished with exams, and I’m thrilled to know where we’re all going for GIE (more on that soon!). Even though I’m so glad to have some time to take a break, I’ve really loved getting to know our classmates and professors, and I feel like we’re actually settled into Charlottesville. So like Jordan said, I’m sad that the program isn’t any longer! It will be much needed time off, but I can’t wait to get back for a new semester on our focused tracks!

Best,

Katie Nell

-Written by your MSC Bloggers

GIE Destination Reveals: How the Hardest Day Became the Most Exciting Day

Enter at the stroke of midnight. I am hunched over my desk. My room is a nightmare, and has been all week. Sleep has been infrequent. Feelings toward McDonald’s are unfavorable.  Also my leg is itchy? Did I get bitten by something? Sorry, irrelevant.

12:30 am  – Come on, Logan. Just finish the Marketing section and edit the Systems section and then you’re done! You can do this!

12:33 am – This is already the hardest day so far in the M.S. in in Commerce program. I definitely need a 15 minute break. I’m almost there, so I can basically pretend I’m done, right? Snapchat stories will totally release endorphins and give me the strength to cross the finish line.

12:45 am – LOGAN! Are you kidding me?! Finish this exam!!

1:30 am – After sending seven back-up emails over the course of six hours, I finally give up finish editing every section until it’s client-ready. All jokes aside, I feel super proud of myself. Tears of joy trickle down my cheeks as I realize I am DONE WITH ALL WORK FOR THE WHOLE SEMESTER! WHAT. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE.

1:45 am – I walk over to Clemons Library to print. The whole “printer issues will not be considered an acceptable excuse for late work” thing has struck the fear of God in my soul. Must have finished product printed in hands before first light of dawn!!!

2:00 am – I send all nine documents to the color printer. Comes out to about $5. Chill.

2:01 am – Color printer is down. I consider crying but decide not to…because I have trouble caring deeply about anything at this point.

2:02 am – Got the free swipes printing pass from an angel working the late night info desk. Super chill.

2:07 am – I literally skip home. Like, leaps and bounds into the crisp night air. Morale is high.

2:10 am – All sections are stapled and Honor Codes are signed. I am BUZZING with excitement. I can’t sleep at a time like this. I am free! I can do whatever I want! The world is my oyster!!! (I kind of don’t like that expression. When I think of oysters, I just think of slimy oysters, not pearls. The world is my…BAGEL! Much more universally appealing. I should probably to go to bed.)

2:30 am – After 20 minutes of watching new movie trailers on YouTube, I am finally at ease. What a beautiful night. I fall asleep with an adorable smile on face. And I didn’t set an alarm. Heck yeah.

4:30 am – I had a dream I was flying! I don’t really remember the context, but that just gives you a glimpse into how psychologically elated I was……I think I was a pirate? Whatever. Flying is awesome.

9:27 am – I arise to the twinkling of the sun through my window and the chirrup of a sweet bird. I think about getting up. Nah.

10:34 am – Maybe now? I’m hungry…so yeah, why not? THIS IS THE LIFE!!!

11:01 am – I zipped through the Bodo’s line  (best bagels in Charlottesville!) and am back in room with my good friend, Cinnamon Raisin. (Remember, the world is my bagel.) I flip open my laptop, close all tabs—ALL TABS—then reopen one single Internet tab to YouTube. More movie trailers ahead. What a time to be alive.

12:55 pm – Showered and fed, packet of 27 unwrinkled pages in my new folder (thanks, CVS!), I meander over to the Comm School. (I restrained myself from skipping this time. People might not understand, you know.)

1:00 pm – Exactly at the beginning of the 1-4 pm window of time for dropping off exams, I slap mine down (good riddance!) into the six different baskets for our six lucky professors and scribble my name on six different sign-in sheets. This is taking forever! (Not really, I’m just frantically weaving in and out of the couple of other students in the Grad Programs Office.) My hands are shaking with adrenaline because I know what comes next…

1:03 pm – I find that beautiful GIE reveal letter with my name on it. I take a second to appreciate how cute of a way this was to announce our destinations to us, with 111 separate specialty envelopes. Thanks Grad Programs! But, like I said, just a second—it’s time to rip open this envelope and find out where I’m going!

1:04 pm – I AM JUMPING UP AND DOWN. I AM GOING TO EUROPE IN MAY! NO WORDS.

1:10 pm – I finally stop jumping because I’m out of breath. I dart around the first floor of Rouss-Robertson asking everyone in sight where s/he is going. It seems like everyone I ask got his/her first choice! Nobody can stop smiling!

1:20 pm – After grabbing a stack of old papers, two mugs, and a collection of little presents from the “GCOM elves” out of my cubby, I leave the Comm School for the last time this semester with full arms and a fuller heart. And clear eyes. I can’t lose today.

1:23 pm – I am at my leisure and I am going to Europe. Wow. This really is one of the best days of my life.

6:14 pm – I am going to Europe. Wow!

10:16 pm – WOW. THIS REALLY IS ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!!!

Close on the stroke of midnight. I’m having another flying dream. Winter break is so rad.

-Written by Logan Steele