Michelle Crottier had a few goals in mind when she arrived in Pittsburgh for the Tepper School’s Welcome Weekend.
Having already accepted the school’s offer of a spot in the Class of 2014, she wasn’t planning to gather information to help her make a decision. Rather, some of her goals were more practical: “An apartment!” she said, adding, “I want to meet my fellow classmates. I’m also hoping to find a roommate.”
Crottier, who forecasts capital in the treasury services department of a regional bank in Minnesota, had already gone to one apartment showing upon her arrival and scheduled at least three more before the close of the weekend. She also planned to attend a Saturday event organized by first-year MBAs Emily Aigner and Sola Osunfisan, who put together a booklet and a panel session designed to brief admitted students on different housing options in Pittsburgh.
“We feel like Welcome Weekend is a way for the [admitted] students to really understand the people they’ll be spending the next two years with,” explains Markay Bressler, a first-year MBA who served on the event’s organizing committee. “It’s a crucial part of the decision-making process.”
The weekend is part introduction, part celebration, part intelligence-gathering for students who have been accepted into the next class of the Tepper School. Some, like Crottier, have already accepted and are looking to make connections among the people who will be their classmates. Others are still undecided and hoping to get a better feel for the program through sample classes, interactions with faculty and first-year students, and social events such as a dinner at Heinz Field that kicked off the weekend.
“I want you to take advantage of this weekend,” Dean Robert Dammon told the audience in a speech prior to the dinner. “As a member of this community, you will know every one of your classmates; you will know every one of the faculty, and for better or for worse, they will know you.”
First-year MBA Juhi Dudani confirms that viewpoint. In fact, the close-knit Tepper School community was part of what tilted her decision when she attended Welcome Weekend as an undecided admitted student last year.
“It was definitely a factor,” she says. “I felt connected to all the current students, and I felt that my personality would be the best fit at Tepper … Right from the start, as a first year, you’re engaged. The second years help you with recruitment. As crazy as our schedules are, everyone always makes time to meet with each other.”
That message definitely came across to Junaid Zaheer, an admitted student who described himself as “90 percent decided” on the Tepper School when he was mingling at the Heinz Field event.
“One thing that I really noticed is that students are very closely knit together,” said Zaheer, who works for a clean energy team at a Baltimore company and wants to earn an MBA so he can broaden his career into consulting. “It’s not about Type A students coming in and competing against each other; it’s about not only taking yourself ahead in your career, but also your peers.”
His fiancée, Yousra Hussaini, is already a first-year MBA, so Zaheer has had plenty of opportunities to visit the campus. He was attracted to Carnegie Mellon University’s commitment to cross-campus collaboration, particularly because of his interest in clean energy, for which public policy classes at the Heinz School would come in handy.
“There are no barriers on this campus,” Dammon said in his speech. “The interdisciplinary work happens here and is beneficial to the community, including students.”
He concluded his speech by explaining the Tepper School’s philosophy: “We have two years to educate you for a 40-year career. That is a tall task,” Dammon said. “We prepare our students to handle complexity.”
Noting that the Class of 2014 will be the first to experience the school’s newly updated curriculum, he added, “I am confident that you will derive some intricate benefits from the changes that we’ve made.”
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