Combining expectations with unexpected, pleasant surprises

By: Katelyn Godoy
Photo of Johnson MBA students at Ithaca's gorges

By Gina Tucker, Two-Year MBA ’19

When I was applying for MBA programs, I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect when I arrived. I imagined endless networking and socializing, exposure to classmates from extremely diverse backgrounds with a variety of goals for their future careers, and classes featuring subjects I knew were important but would also be highly challenging. The reality was a hybrid of expected developments and unexpected experiences and was simultaneously one of life’s most difficult, rewarding, and stimulating challenges.

A new appreciation for networking

To begin, I’ll address some common misconceptions I had about networking. I knew it would be a huge part of business school, but “schmoozing” was a skill I severely lacked. I dreaded attending happy hours with visiting companies and competing with classmates for the attention of recruiters. These so-called “crop circles” seemed like a daunting approach to getting a job.

Surprisingly, company briefings became one of my favorite events of the fall semester, and my classmates were courteous and supportive of one another in front of recruiters. I found myself delighting in conversations with alumni and recruiters, enjoying presentations about the massive range of internship opportunities, and discovering industries I had never previously considered. Attending these events proved crucial to my personal internship search, as they helped me understand the culture of various offices without visiting them in person. I chose a mixture of on-campus and off-campus recruiting, but ultimately selected an internship from a company that recruited directly at Johnson. I couldn’t be more excited for the summer!

Openness to diversity in many ways

Another pleasant discovery was the openness to diversity among my Johnson classmates. Not only was there a huge range of nationalities represented in the class, but students came from vastly different professional backgrounds and families and had a wide range of personal interests that were a joy to observe. Some of my close friends had unconventional pre-MBA careers including teaching in prisons, coaching the national equestrian team, and farming in Europe. It was my first time becoming close friends with military veterans and individuals who were married with children.

While most Johnson MBA students fall into a handful of career trajectory categories, I was pleased to see many of my classmates pursuing entrepreneurship, real estate, hotel business, and other less-traditional paths. There were also a variety of opportunities to learn about the different cultures represented at Johnson through events like Diwali, around-the-world treks, and culture-specific Sage Socials.

Photo of Gina and classmates at a formal event

Cornell-wide connections

My third revelation since being at Johnson was the shocking access to knowledge and information that are housed within an Ivy League campus like Cornell. Our professors have all had remarkable careers, some of them with impressive prizes under their belts, and are exceptionally helpful and personable with their students. Many have been guest speakers on the Johnson student-run podcast Present Value, and it’s not uncommon to see them attending Sage Social and chatting about their personal lives with their students. Johnson also offers an enormous variety of classes to choose from, all with outstanding faculty who are eager to assist their students beyond the scope of the classroom. Many MBA students select classes outside of the business school, too, such as Wines, Sailing, and Rock Climbing.

Photo of Gina and Johnson MBA classmates at a winery

My first semester at Johnson was one of personal discovery, budding friendships, and intensive instruction. Naturally, there were periods of stress, with several 15-hour days on campus, constant conflicting priorities, and the pressure of selecting a career path. But in reflection, the difficult days were vastly overshadowed by the joy of being part of the Johnson community and the satisfaction of developing myself into a well-rounded businesswoman.

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About Gina Tucker, Two-Year MBA ’19

Headshot of Gina Tucker, Two-Year MBA ’19

Gina Tucker is a first-year MBA candidate at Johnson, pursuing roles in CPG brand management. Prior to her MBA she worked in Silicon Valley at Oracle and a small start-up,, in sales and marketing roles. She will be heading to Denver for her summer internship at DanoneWave, a sustainability and health-focused food company. In her free time Gina is an outdoor enthusiast and spends her weekends at Greek Peak and the Cornell climbing gym.