Pivot from journalist to financial analyst

A reimagined future means leaving the familiar behind. Lisa Ferguson (MBA16) said goodbye to media startups in Los Angeles and hello to the promise of an Iowa MBA in finance. She’d never even visited the state before. But she felt instantly at home and energized by all the program had to offer.

Read how she got the MBA experience and career she wanted.

#1: Make the application process a learning experience

Lisa’s initial contacts were a leading indicator of how welcoming Tippie would be. She was impressed by how quickly the helpful Tippie team handled her admissions and aid applications. But what really sold her was Advance Weekend—2-1/2 days of experiencing a top-ranked program in a great college town with other admitted students.

“I met people who were smart and driven and excited about what we were doing,” Lisa says. “That we’re-all-in-this-together attitude pervades the Tippie culture. After Advance Weekend, I was totally sold.”

Her research about the program proved right. With small classes and a low student-faculty ratio, the personalized approach was perfect for someone with little business background.

#2: Embrace Iowa

Before leaving Los Angeles, Lisa took some good-natured ribbing from friends about hanging out in cornfields. But between diving into challenging courses and bonding with a tight-knit class of 60, she never felt out of place. She also never ran out of fun places to go in Iowa City—including the Bluebird for breakfast and the Java House for studying. “There’s a collegiate, friendly atmosphere,” she says, “like the city revolves around the university.”

#3: Take advantage of rich career and internship resources

The four-semester Business Acumen course showed Lisa how to market her personal brand. Professors gave her a real sense of what working in finance would be like and how to prep for job interviews. And alumni helped make connections. The result: Lisa landed her top-choice internship in investment management at Goldman Sachs in Chicago.

#4: Learn to be your own best salesperson

The Tippie staff hammered home what employers most want to hear about students’ real-world expertise. In internship interviews, Lisa drew on her in-depth experiences, and it was very helpful to have specific examples so interviewers would think, ‘She does know what she’s talking about,” Lisa says.

But that’s not all she had to talk about. “Being able to mention that in 2016 the Financial Times ranked Tippie’s finance program as #1 in the world,” she says, “was really impressive.”

#5: Savor the MBA experience as an investment in yourself

Sure, it’s easy to stress out over everything from exams to job offers. But maintaining perspective is so important, Lisa says. “I recommend trying new things and getting the most out of everything you do. It's the perfect chance to test your abilities without the real-world consequences you might have on the job. This is probably the last time you'll go back to school—enjoy the experience, and have fun.”