The Hilltop Diaries
Hometown girl trades Big Apple for Big D to pursue MBA at SMU Cox School of Business
For those of you who don’t know me — which I assume is most of you reading this — my name is Jennifer, and I am a first-year MBA here at the Cox School of Business at SMU. I was asked to write this to offer a peek inside life over on the Hilltop in B-School. But before I jump into any stories about school, let me introduce myself.
I’m originally from Denton, so I grew up not too far from Dallas. I attended SMU for my undergrad as well (I loved it so much I just had to come back — go Ponies!), where I studied marketing and corporate communications. I graduated in 2006 and ventured up to New York City to pursue my dream of working on the business side of the fashion industry, which is exactly what I did.
I was loving life and enjoying the travel and excitement that my job in NYC offered me, but I was ready for more.
I landed my first job in the buying office of Saks Fifth Avenue; then I moved into the wholesale side of the industry. My love for sales, people and relationship-building fit perfectly into this facet of the industry, so I felt lucky to be doing something that I not only loved, but also was good at.
Long story short, over my seven-plus years in the industry, I had the chance to manage and grow some of the largest domestic wholesale accounts for global companies such as Escada and Burberry (think Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales), as well as travel all over the country and world for meetings, events and market appointments. It was a really great experience, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to live out my 20s in NYC, as well as establish a great career.
I was loving life and enjoying the travel and excitement that my job in NYC offered me, but I was ready for more, and I had been toying with the idea of moving back to Dallas. Being a Texas native and living in NYC is an interesting combination. From politics and religion to food and culture — even men! — the two cities couldn’t be more different.
I was home last spring hosting a baby shower for one of my best friends from undergrad, and I chatted with her about my future plans and whether or not I had the guts to leave NYC and the career I had built for myself. Getting my MBA was always something that I had aspired to do, but I just never knew when the “right” time to pull the trigger would be.
I know that being back in Texas and utilizing this MBA to the fullest can help me set myself up for success in the Dallas business community.
After the conversation with my friend that weekend, I knew the time was now. I reached out to the admissions office, and they guided me through the entire process (thanks, Cox admissions director John Roeder). Because it was so late in the admissions cycle, I had a lot to do in a little amount of time.
I got my application submitted and sent off by the final round due date, and I took that awful test, a.k.a the GMAT, a few weeks thereafter. The bottom line is that I got it all done, was accepted in early summer and got on a serious fast track back to Dallas.
It was a bittersweet thing for sure; I couldn’t have been more excited about the admittance into the program, but the thought of leaving the life that I had created for myself in NYC was scary! I was leaving friends, coworkers and an amazing job — but I had to think of my future, long-term goals and, ultimately, where I wanted to end up geographically.
I knew that being back in Texas and utilizing this MBA to the fullest could help me set myself up for success in the Dallas business community. I know that making the decision to leave your job, abandon a steady income and hit the pause button on the plan that we all have mapped out for our futures is an extremely hard thing. But from what I have heard from other MBA graduates (especially those from Cox), and what I can tell thus far from this program, it is, and will be, 100 percent worth it.
I’m looking forward to telling you more about my experiences as a grad student at SMU. I promise to keep it real. And I’d love to hear from you. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.