Many are attracted to Boston College's extensive opportunities across academics, experiential learning, and student life. But as students begin their journeys, many wonder: How can I get the most out of my BC MBA? As with everything in life, the BC experience is a result of what our students make of the resources and the community unique to Boston College. During her time in the program, Sarah found a home amongst Eagles through engagement and active participation with all aspects of the MBA experience, from career development services to student body leadership. Read more on how Sarah navigated her BC experience and leveraged her skills to earn a spot at Johnson and Johnson.
How did you end up at Boston College?
I’d been in Boston for 10 years, ever since graduating from Union College in Schenectady, NY. I started out in a contract job, then I landed a job in the charitable division of a financial services company. I spent six years in service delivery, starting in a client services role, and worked my way up to be a manager. After two years in the management role, I joined the Business Analysis and Data Team in a business analysis and IT consulting capacity.
Then I found out that my team was moving to North Carolina. I had to decide whether to make the move with my team or do something else. I wanted to expand my knowledge and my business skills, so I started looking at business schools. As my dad used to say, no one ever regretted getting an education! So I went to an MBA fair, met admission reps and current students from Boston College, and made an immediate connection. I really liked the people and the picture they painted of the BC MBA program and community. In the end, BC was the only school I applied to.
How did BC help you make the transition to business school?
After working for seven-plus years, it was scary to think of going back to school—and I’d heard that business school is very cut-throat. But BC is a small community, so you get to know your professors and all the students in the class. And people are supportive—not at all what I had expected. One time, a friend with an accounting background stayed at school until 1:30 in the morning to teach my friend and I something we needed to learn for class. He didn’t have to do that, but he was happy to help us work through the material.
What were some of the highlights of your BC experience?
One of the best parts was having hands-on experience working with real clients. After working at the same company for several years, I enjoyed being introduced to new companies and subject matters and figuring out what their needs were and how to solve their problems.
I also appreciated the opportunity to learn from people who are in the thick of the business world, as well as from people who have been teaching and studying business for years. Many classes offer opportunities to speak with professionals and learn about their industry. For one class, we had different executives come in to talk to us about their management style or how they’ve grown in their career. It’s a good way to get a broad view of everything from small start-ups to corporate America.
Did you get involved on campus outside of class?
Yes, I served as vice president of career strategies for the Graduate Management Association. I chose that role because I had a great experience with career development myself, and I wanted to help others have a good experience too. I was involved in two major initiatives in GMA: we invited a Goldman Sachs executive to campus to talk with us about his experiences, and we hosted a CEO dinner, where an alum from State Street came to talk about her career. It was a good opportunity for me to make my mark, and I’m really proud of what the GMA as a team accomplished.
How did your classes prepare you for professional life?
I had a lot of freedom to take different kinds of classes, giving me not only a strong foundation in the core courses, but also a stronger appreciation for other areas, like marketing and social media. I also had the opportunity to learn about health care, including insurance, health care reform, and the culture in health care companies—which was great preparation for my future career at Johnson & Johnson. I even did a directed study about culture and innovation in health care with a fellow student. We developed our own research project and studied four companies, including Johnson & Johnson.
How has BC supported your career development?
First of all, I got an internship at Johnson & Johnson 100 percent because of BC. A Boston College MBA alum and his fellow Johnson & Johnson colleague came to the school for an information session. They immediately piqued my interest not only in human resources, but also in the company itself. With my permission, the assistant dean, my career counselor, shared my resume. A recruiter at Johnson & Johnson eventually contacted me, and I was offered—and accepted—an internship for the summer of 2015. I loved my experience at the company as an intern, so I accepted an offer to join the company full time in the Human Resources Leadership Development Program.
Boston College also has a very impressive alumni network. During my internship I met several times with two BC graduates and J&J employees who had gone through the same program I was in. They both reached out to see how it was going for me, and we remain in touch today. I really have the BC connection to thank for that. People talk about Eagles helping Eagles, but you don’t know what that really means until you experience it.