As part of Scheller’s Countdown to Commencement series, we interviewed a few soon-to-be graduates from our undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. programs to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller College, and what they plan to do after Spring 2019 Commencement.
Meet Michelle Frenssen:
Michelle is completing her Full-Time MBA with Operations Management, Business Analytics, and International Business concentrations. A native of Lake Pleasant, New York, she describes herself as a “lifelong learner excited to embark on the challenging and fulfilling world of business consulting.” She is a first-generation American and grew up speaking German. She notes, “I’m forever grateful that my grandmother and mother insisted that I learn German and remain connected to this part of my heritage.”
Undergraduate school and degree:
SUNY Geneseo, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; University of Mississippi, Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction through the Mississippi Teacher Corps.
Where did you work before enrolling in business school?
I was a teacher for three years. My first two years of teaching were spent in Mississippi, through the Mississippi Teacher Corps, and my final year was spent teaching at KIPP Collegiate in Nashville, Tennessee.
Where did you intern during the summer of 2018?
I spent my summer as an International Procurement Specialist Intern at Bayer in Whippany, NJ.
Where will you be working after graduation?
I will be starting as a Senior Consultant at Deloitte.
Why did you choose Scheller College of Business?
There are three main reasons I chose Scheller: community, career services, and curriculum.
I knew it was the right place for me as soon as I interacted with the welcoming community of students, admissions staff, career services, and alumni. I was also so incredibly impressed by the credentials of the Jones MBA Career Center. In choosing to come to Scheller, I felt confident that I would have the resources and guidance at my disposal to support me in reaching my career goals. In terms of curriculum, I was impressed by Scheller’s excellent operations and data-intensive courses. I was also very excited about the “real-world” experience that practicum classes could offer. I’ve always been very excited about hands-on learning, and the seemingly endless offering of practicum courses was exactly what I was looking for. Scheller has certainly not disappointed!
Who was your favorite MBA professor (and why)?
This is such a hard question, because picking only one professor is so challenging when there have been so many that are truly amazing. Since I have to choose, Professor Jeffrey Hu is my favorite MBA professor. It was his enthusiasm for data and ability to break down complex concepts that made me interested in pursuing a business analytics concentration. It is evident that he cares about seeing his students succeed and is willing to invest his time to help them develop the skills so that they can do so.
What was your favorite course (and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?)
Choosing a favorite course is just as challenging as choosing a favorite professor. I’d have to say my Operations Strategy course with Professor Singhal. This case-based class exposed me to a wide array of manufacturing operations challenges that we tackled as a class with the guidance of our professor. The class provided a toolkit that has taught me how to look at problems holistically while not losing sight of how operations challenges impact the overall health and stability of the organization.
As a business student in the heart of Tech Square, how do you think Scheller College embodies the intersection of business and technology?
Scheller students are exposed to the intersection of business and technology before they even start their classes during the first fall semester. During orientation, we were already exposed to innovation centers through a walking tour where we learned about the unique and excitingly progressive innovations happening, quite literally, across the street. Since then, I’ve returned to Tech Square for innovation center tours through various clubs. One of my favorites was visiting the Delta Innovation Center, “The Hangar,” with Women in Business last year. Through my position on GBC, I was exposed to learning about how Tech Square is continually seeking to develop and strengthen relationships with students through additional practicum and fellowship course offerings. It’s exciting to see this two-sided exchange between tech-focused businesses and students who are yearning to be part of cutting-edge innovation. The resources are endless! I am currently in a pilot course known as the U.S. Expansion Practicum, where my class actually meets in Tech Square and my professor is the director of the innovation ecosystem center. Scheller has surpassed my expectations with opportunities to tap into the ecosystem that Tech Square offers.
Did the Jones MBA Career Center help you find a job or internship during your time at Scheller or after graduation?
I am so thankful to the Jones MBA Career Center. It has been incredibly comforting and encouraging knowing that there is an entire team of people invested in the career success of myself and my classmates. From general career guidance, professional development workshops, and genuine excitement to learn about how our career journeys progress, I have always felt welcomed and supported throughout my career search. For both my summer internship and full-time positions, I am thankful for the support of career services.
What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less?
It has been truly priceless. I’ve had experiences over these past two years that I couldn’t trade for the world and know that everything is just beginning as I now get to start my dream career after pivoting thanks to all of the experiences that Scheller has offered.
Did you participate in a practicum? If yes, which practicum(s) and what year(s)?
Yes! Practicums are one of my favorite aspects about the Scheller MBA Program. During the first year of my MBA, I took the Six Sigma Practicum and International Practicum to Japan. During the first semester of my second year, I completed the Business Analytics Practicum and Supply Chain Innovation Practicum courses. Now in my final semester, I am taking the Strategy & Innovation Consulting Practicum and a pilot practicum course known as the US Expansion practicum.
I chose to take each of those practicum courses because they combined my interest in the academic area with an opportunity to solve a real business problem and work with an actual client. For each course, I’d already taken at least one, if not several, classes that helped me develop content knowledge that my team and I could apply to make recommendations to our client. Knowing that I was interested in pursuing a career in consulting, I saw practicum courses as a way to develop the skillset that I would be applying to a career in consulting in the future. It also definitely helped to confirm that this was the career path that I was passionate about pursuing. This semester has been particularly helpful in developing that consulting skillset and getting practice with real problems. In the Strategy & Innovation Practicum course, we are gaining and applying a toolkit of consultant skills to a problem that the class is working together to solve. In my U.S. Expansion Practicum, I am able to apply some of the concepts from my Strategy & Innovation Practicum while gaining exposure to tools such as the Business Model Canvas to help our client develop a strategy to expand into the United States.
How do you feel your experience with practicums has prepared you for post-graduation?
Through these practicum projects, I have learned about new industries, new companies, different business problems, the value of working on a team, and the importance of the relationship that the team has with their client. As I prepare to start my career in consulting, I am confident that these skills will be helpful when I encounter new business challenges.
Did you travel abroad during your time at Scheller? What were some of your key takeaways from the experience?
During the second semester of my MBA, I took the International Practicum to Japan course. I learned so much about working with individuals from different cultures, Japan, and even my classmates through this project. Although my team and I used Google Hangouts and other video chat platforms to “see” our client as we worked on the business challenge, it wasn’t until Spring Break that we were able to meet them face-to-face. I had never been to Japan before, and definitely appreciated so much about the order and respect that is part of Japanese society. Working with an international client was such a valuable experience, even small things, such as late night phone conferences because of the time difference, presented new challenges.
MBA alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you?
Since I was pivoting from education to business, much of the past two years has been very transformational. I have learned about content that I had never previously been exposed to. I’ve become passionate about academic areas, such as operations and supply chain, which I only vaguely understood prior to starting school. And I’ve learned more about companies that impact me on a daily basis since being here, so that my perspective in life has changed even as a consumer. I had a moment in my first year when I realized the weight of the transformation that was in progress. I was standing with my International Practicum team at a drone conference in Japan. It was a reality that I would not have even thought to imagine or could have believed to be true two years ago.
Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program?
Although I might have wished to have known about the rollercoaster ride that business school would be before starting, I think that’s part of what has made this so fun. There’s always something that’s happening, and it is actually impossible to do all the things that are available for you to do in a day. There will be moments that define your MBA experience, such as standing with your Strategic Management team in Modesto, CA, on an E&J Gallo-sponsored trip. (My team’s first year capstone project was for E&J Gallo, and we were so fortunate that they invited us out to tour their facilities and present to their team following our in-class presentation.) There will also be moments that you are staying up later than you had ever intended to study for an exam or complete a project presentation with your team. But in the end, it’s all part of the experience that makes getting your MBA so special.
How did the extracurricular offerings at Scheller College help you during your time here?
I can truly say that I have never had the chance to be bored during my time at Scheller due to the many events that are offered through clubs and committees, career services, and various centers associated with the College of Business. These offerings have provided opportunities for me to prepare for my interviews and my future career, such as events hosted by both Consulting Club and Career Services for case prep, learn from and network with inspiring women through Women in Business events, and gain insight into the sustainable practices of Atlanta core businesses, such as the Delta Sustainability tour that was hosted by Net Impact.
During my time at Scheller, I have been involved with the Graduate Business Council. Serving on this leadership team has given me opportunities to bridge the gap between my fellow-classmates, the program office, and career services. We’ve been able to directly impact the direction of the program and advocate for any issues or changes that were particularly important to our classmates.
Did you utilize any of Scheller College’s diversity initiatives? How did they help you during your time at the College? (Women in Business, Excel Program, Blacks in Business, Veteran programs, LGBTQ, etc.)
During my time at Scheller, I have been an active member of Women and Business. The leadership of this organization worked incredibly hard during both the first and second year of my MBA to provide programing that was meaningful and inspiring. From panels packed with impressive women to negotiation workshops, this club has provided me with resources, insight, and a network that will be extremely valuable as I embark on my post-MBA career.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into Scheller College?
If you’re interested in becoming a student at Scheller, I highly recommend learning about the program through current students. A great way to do this is by attending information sessions and open house events. There is absolutely so much that Scheller has to offer, so it is likely that through these conversations and events, you will learn about what specifically could make Scheller the perfect fit for you. You’ll also get to know what makes Scheller truly unique, which is the amazing people who are part of this program. I have been so lucky to be part of such an intelligent, supportive, and entertaining cohort.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? (A parent? A teacher? A role model?)
This might sound strange, but in a way, it was my students. I was helping them prepare for the ACT and the start of their college decisions, and although I’d thought about returning to school for quite some time, it was preparing them to start on their academic and career journeys that made me realize it was time for me to act on mine.
What are the top two items on your bucket list?
Travel to each continent. There’s so much out there, and I’m excited to learn more about this world! Read one book each month for pleasure. I’m going to use the break between school and starting to work as my way to kick start my effort to do that.