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Meet Entrepreneur & MBA Student, Tim McCormack

Meet Entrepreneur & MBA Student, Tim McCormack

BusinessSchools.com

Any advice for students considering scholarship opportunities?

Look into scholarships. I didn’t have any idea that I could get a full ride. Until I came to visit Pepperdine, I hadn’t even taken the GMAT yet, as I was planning to apply the next year. I spoke to an admissions counselor, and she told me that if I could get above a 700 on the GMAT, there would be scholarship money available, so that became my number one goal after that. There are a lot of scholarship opportunities, especially if you are willing to forgo the universities in the top 10-20 rankings. If you can get a high GMAT score, then there is so much money available. $60,000 for an MBA is a lot of money, so if you can find a way to avoid loans, do it. It’s worth it. In fact, not a lot of people apply for the scholarships; there was a recent 6,000 scholarship at Pepperdine that only 10 people actually applied for.

How can prospective business school students assess their skill and aptitude?

When I started undergrad the first time, I did not consider business as a major at all. I wasn’t really interested in numbers, as I was a more in creative type person. But business is so important; you can use it to do anything you want. As far as assessing aptitude to go into it, for most programs in the U.S., barring a few universities, it really is not as much aptitude as much as how much work you are willing to put in, how you apply yourself. There are very smart people who fail, and there are people who aren’t that bright who do excellently in a business program. I wouldn’t be as concerned with aptitude as with being able to buckle down and do the work, and figure out if you’re at a place in your life where you are willing to put in that time.

A lot of undergrads in different fields, such as science or technology, come and do an MBA program, and find that it’s more challenging than for those students with a business degree. Students might want to consider taking classes in some of the disciplines at a community college level. If you have bachelors in science, but haven’t ever taken a business class, then it might be a good idea to take accounting at a junior college before you come in. In the MBA program, you move quickly and cover a lot of ground. It definitely would be a good idea to bone up on some areas before you start, so that once you are in an MBA program, you can focus on making sure you get the whole experience, not just the studies. Otherwise, you’re missing the extracurricular activities, which are just as important as what you are learning in the classroom.

What can students applying to business schools and MBA programs do to increase their chances of being accepted?

I went out and bought a few books on the process, mainly, it comes down to the essays. If you’re applying and you have some time, one thing that is good to do is to make sure you are doing something besides work, such as volunteering, which big tier universities especially are looking for. The essays are very important. I spent about two months working on my essays, six different ones; you really have to set your life down on the paper. You have to brand market yourself in these essays, you need cohesive themes, so take your time on the essays, ask for opinions, and listen to those opinions. Edit the essays 10 times if you need to. References are pretty important, as well; just like with your essays, you need to have a similar theme, feel free to tell your references what you hope for them to say.

Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?

I think it makes a difference. It was still a trade-off for me. I’m basically getting my MBA for free at a less-recognized university, but I am saving between $60,000 and $80,000 on school costs. All you have to do is compare starting salaries: I heard it reported that Harvard MBA starting salaries are $140,000 a year, while right now the average starting salary for Pepperdine MBA graduates is between $70,000 and $88,000. So you’re making twice as much money out of the gate from Harvard.

How available are internships and other hands-on student experiences? Any tips for landing?

My internship won’t be until next April or May, I have been actively connecting with people, but they don’t start offering until January.

What advice can you give to prospective students thinking about a business education and career?

If you can pick our path early, really follow it, take some time and write down your goals and shoot for them; even if you don’t achieve those goals, the process of writing them down is valuable and helps advance your career. When you do get into an MBA program, it’s going to be pretty demanding, so be prepared. Make sure whoever you are living with, your family, knows you are going to pretty preoccupied and busy for a while.

You & Your Career


Tell us about your entrepreneurial business career. How did you initially get involved in Internet-based businesses? How have you built on your experiences to succeed in new ventures?

I started out in a small direct marketing business because the opportunity presented itself when the Internet was just getting started. Working in a very small business is very different than in a large company, where your job description is what you are doing. In small business, you are doing everything. The Internet was the natural outgrowth of the small business wanting to take every opportunity available to it. The more you get involved with it, the more you build on it. The Internet is very exciting for me, there is always something new. It’s changing so quickly you can’t even keep up, you’re competing on a world market, and really you’re fighting for a top 10 position in the rankings; what’s kept me there is the excitement of small business and new technology. I love that there’s always something new and exciting, and I get to help forge the process, make it work, then move on. I like to create new processes, that’s why I like the Internet so much.

I was the general manager, for the Barcareers.com portion of the Intertech business in Santa Barbara, Calif. Our profitability went through the roof, and we were able to cut employee costs considerably. Then I was the project manager for the MasterChefRecipes.com web site, which was a great idea, it didn’t end up flying like we wanted. It was the first time I worked for a company that was 100% Internet, there was no separate strategy, which was kind of the problem. The success with the Internet is in coupling traditional marketing and business strategies and with new technologies with Internet, not just striking out on the Internet, more the exception than the rule.

Then I moved abroad to the Dominican Republic for three years while my fiance attended dental school there, and I created my own little company, SwebShop.net, to really dive into the web site end of the business for a while. I made web sites, doing work for other companies, which subcontract out parts of web sites all the time. Abroad, the costs were much lower than in the U.S.; we also made sites for local companies. It was a lot of fun.