Posted on January 7, 2015

Interview of a Cornell Student

Poonam, CEO, and founder of myEssayReview is publishing interviews of her successful students.  This is the latest in the series. Here is a chat with Jose Carlos Nogueira Cavalcante Filho, a first-year student at the full-time MBA program at Cornell.

Poonam: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What do you do now?

Carlos: Sure, Poonam! I’m from Brazil, where I got my undergrad degree in Economics with a minor in Finance. I have 5 years of work experience in different industries.

Poonam: When did you start thinking about an MBA? Why now? What are your post MBA career goals and long term goals?

Carlos: Well, getting an MBA degree in another country is a major decision, and I started thinking about it around three years before actually applying. Regarding timing, now was the right moment for me because I was about to take managerial responsibilities and wanted to better prepare for this step. In terms of my career plan, after the MBA, I want to continue working in consulting, mostly for the intellectual challenge and the collegial atmosphere.

Poonam: You were accepted by Cornell, Richard Ivey, and Emory, but you chose Cornell.   How is Cornell the best school for you?

Carlos: My initial plan is to deepen my international experience after the MBA, but going back to my country was always a possibility. After talking to my career counselor, I realized that Cornell has the most brand recognition in Brazil. I also took into consideration my “gut feeling”: although all the people I interacted with from all the cited schools were great, I felt more connected to the Cornellians I met. Therefore, both brand recognition and “gut feeling” were the main drivers for this decision (by the way, my “gut feeling” was right– I feel at home here at Cornell!).

Poonam: Wonderful!! What is your favorite thing about Cornell so far? What part of this program you have enjoyed the most so far?

 Carlos: It’s hard to limit all the great experience I’m having to just one point, but I would say that the thing I like most is the close-knit community here at Cornell – everyone I’ve reached out, even before being accepted to Cornell, showed a willingness to go an extra mile to help me.

Poonam: Is there anything you would like to change about the program? 

Carlos: The only thing I would change is the freezing cold weather here in Ithaca!

Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? How would you advise other MBA applicants who are facing similar challenges?

Carlos: To be honest, besides managing the anxiety while waiting for results, the process was pretty smooth and painless (primarily because you kept me in line!). Actually, the most challenging part of the whole process came after being accepted and having to deal with all the immigration red tape (visa process, money wiring). To deal with it, there is only one piece of advice to other applicants: start early (that also applies to the rest of the application). Start processing all the bureaucracy and paperwork as soon as you accept the offer.

Poonam: How challenging it is to manage full-time school and family at the same time? Do you have any time management tips for prospective students?

Carlos: I am a very lucky man to be married to a very patient and sympathetic woman. Also, I think it’s all about the buy-in process; they (my wife and kid) are convinced that the MBA here and now was the best next step in our lives. There is also a huge Cornell component to that: the strong community here is supportive, and the “Joint Ventures” (“the real brains behind this operation” is their motto) group is very active. Indeed, my experience at Cornell has been great so far- the recruiting season has started, and I have two job offers!

Poonam: Do you have any admissions tips for applicants for a full-time MBA program (essays, résumé, recommendation letters, interview, adjustment to the campus), etc.?

Carlos: Sure, the MBA application process is all about storytelling. Successful applicants have the ability to connect the dots between their background/experiences and their future goals, with a clear need for an MBA in between those pieces. An MBA is not an end in itself, but a platform to launch you into your future.

Poonam: What are your favorite non-school books?  What are your hobbies?

Carlos: My favorite non-school book is “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” (I know, it’s cheesy, but I like it) and my main hobby is cooking– I’m a foodie, and cooking is my way of bringing the world to my table.

Poonam: Is there any other advice you would like to offer to the prospective MBA students?

Carlos: Yes: keep your head up. Rejection is part of the game, and the way we deal with it is what differentiates success from failure.

Poonam: Thank you, Carlos, for sharing your story with us. Good luck with your Cornell experience and your future career.

For questions email Poonam at