Interview with Linh Gilles, Director of Admissions & Recruiting (Carlson School of Management)

Linh Gilles - Carlson MBAF1GMAT: Carlson MBA has put emphasis on Experiential Learning. What are some of the unique courses and learning methodologies adopted in Carlson Full-time MBA program?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA): The Carlson School offers four Enterprise programs as part of the Full-Time MBA curriculum—Brands, Consulting, Ventures, and Funds—that provide an in-depth, transformational experience no other business schools offer.  In many ways, the Carlson School is the leader in experiential learning for business schools.  We were arguably the first MBA program to offer a true experiential learning opportunity with our first consulting project for a real client in the late 60s.

The way the Enterprise program experience is designed currently is, each semester, for 2.5 semesters, Full-Time MBA students are a part of student-managed teams in the Brand, Consulting or Ventures enterprises. Students work on high-profile, fee-based consulting projects with professionals at client organizations who expect real results.

Students in the Funds Enterprise are responsible for a small capitalization growth fund and a fixed income fund that combine for an asset total of more than $35 million. That figure puts us in the top three student-managed investment funds in the world, based on assets under management. 

Being part of an Enterprise gives our students intensive real world and the depth of professional experiences that allow them to hit the ground running faster and make them exceptionally more competitive in the MBA job placement landscape.

F1GMAT: What is the biggest misconception about Carlson MBA programs?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
That students should only come to Minnesota to stay in Minnesota.  While it is not uncommon for many students to want to seek employment opportunities with the many great companies within the Twin Cities, graduates of our program are living and working all over the United States and world after graduation.  Because we are a smaller MBA program, our business career center is able to offer personalized, high-touch and customized career services to our MBA students to help them meet their individual career goals whatever and wherever they may be.

F1GMAT: Carlson MBA Program is based in Minneapolis. What are some of the advantages of having a Business School in Minneapolis?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
The Carlson School is located in one of the most diverse and highly involved business communities in the nation.  Minneapolis is truly one of the greatest communities in the world to live in.  We're consistently ranked in the top for the best city to live in, best city for professionals, healthiest and most civic cities, and other rankings like these.  Our students have the distinct advantage of having 19 Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities metro area, including United Health Group, Target, Best Buy, 3M, US Bancorp, Medtronic, General Mills and Ameriprise Financial.  In fact, Minnesota has the highest number of Fortune 500 companies per capita in the United States along with eight of Forbes’ largest private firms.  Forbes has stated that our Twin Cities economy is “knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, IT-driven and innovation-based.” 

The Carlson School has developed exceptionally strong ties to our business community and students are able to leverage this relationship to directly apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real business world in practically an immediate and meaningful way.  Students are often surprised and pleased by the high number of corporate leaders who come to our school on a daily basis.

F1GMAT:  What are the entry criteria in terms of the number of years of experience/GMAT/GPA for Carlson Full-time MBA program?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
On average, students admitted into the Full-Time MBA program have about 4-5 years of full-time work experience, 690 average GMAT and approximately 3.3 average GPA.

F1GMAT: Will the Interviews be conducted on-campus, through phone/Skype or during World MBA Tours? What qualities will be measured during the interview?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
Admission interviews extended based on invitation and can be completed on-campus, by phone or Skype or during the Carlson MBA program’s participation in The MBA Tour, World MBA Tours, etc.

F1GMAT: What makes Carlson School of Management stand out from its competition?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
It’s the combination of a lot of really great things that make Carlson stand out from our competition.  I would have to first point out again that our Enterprise programs are truly unique to the Carlson School.  No other program offers the same depth and rigor compared to what we offer through our Enterprise programs.  Our students work on fee-based and high profile consultative projects for 2 ½ semesters or are managing multi-million dollar funds, either growth or fixed-income funds.

Overall, our curriculum attracts students from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.  Each Full-Time MBA student at Carlson takes part in a base curriculum that encompasses nine core courses to develop a solid foundation in the major functional areas of business, a three semester experiential learning experience in an Enterprise Program and two week Global Discovery abroad program. In fact, the Carlson School was one of the first in the country to require all undergraduate and graduate students to incorporate an international experience into their degree requirements. Our Global Discovery Program sends Full-time MBA students to different locations around the globe each January, reconvening at the Carlson School upon completion of the course to engage in a comparative analysis of different regions.  In addition, each student has the opportunity to tailor their MBA degree to fit their own personal career goals. Students can choose from a variety of emphasis areas, seek one of our five dual degree options, or pursue industry specific electives through coursework offered in specialized programs, like the Medical Industry Leadership Institute program at Carlson.

Additionally, we have a very tightly-knit and collaborative student community who are highly engaged in the program.  Many of our students chose specifically to come to Carlson because our student community and culture.  Our students say they really grow and develop and learn a lot here, all the while, they are having fun.  Our MBA program is a smaller MBA program compared to most others in the nation so our students have the benefit of knowing practically everyone in their current class, the class before them and the class that comes in after them.  We truly have a unique student community to be proud of.

Lastly, with a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek distinction for #1 in the nation for MBA job placement, the Carlson School accredits much of this success to the world-class Graduate Business Career Center, which brings in top local and national companies recruit on campus each year, as well as coordinates student treks to companies across the country. Our staff members in the GBCC are dedicated to providing students with personalized career planning and support, and offer extensive services and resources to help students with all aspects of their career development, from career coaching and mock interviews to internship placement and job offer negotiation strategies.

To top it off, we have all of these great and distinct things going on in one of the best “backyards” in the nation for business.

F1GMAT:  What are some of the networking opportunities provided by Carlson School of Management?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
There are practically endless networking opportunities available through the Carlson School.  Networking, building relationships and engaging with the student, academic, social and business communities are fundamental to the MBA program experience and the Carlson School provides countless ways for students to network.  For instance, the alumni office at the Carlson School hosts a series of First Friday events.  These take place on the First Friday of each month and is a networking and social event for Carlson graduate and MBA alumni and students.  Our student clubs and organizations also host a wide variety of networking events internal and external to the Carlson School, along with our Graduate Business Career Center to connect our students with industry professionals.

F1GMAT: Does the Carlson MBA Program put emphasis on Entrepreneurship?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
Absolutely.  Along with courses in entrepreneurship, the Carlson School has a center dedicated to entrepreneurship.  Our Gary S. Holmes Center at the Carlson School engages students, faculty, and the entrepreneurial business community in our teaching, research and outreach programs. The mission of the Holmes Center is to inspire and educate the next generation of entrepreneurs.  The Holmes Center leads the development and implementation of innovative entrepreneurship curriculum at the Carlson School of Management, including entrepreneurship and experiential courses for both undergraduate and graduate students.  The Center also engages the entrepreneurial business community through mentorships, internships, and business hatchery programs, in which business practitioners advise students on planning and operating their own business ventures.

Additionally, our Carlson Ventures Enterprise program, one of the four Enterprise Program experiences at the Carlson School, provides our students with a unique experience, through a combination of coursework and real-world experience, where they learn how to analyze and shape business opportunities, understand new ventures and collaborate on innovative solutions.  The Carlson Ventures Enterprise program strives to enhance our students’ critical skills for a career in entrepreneurship; along with business development, venture capital, investment banking or strategic consulting.

Carlson MBA students can also take a class called Design for Sustainable Development that is co-taught by our Carlson Ventures Enterprise Director and the Civil Engineering faculty at the University of Minnesota.  The class is unique in that it is a basically a multi-university case competition that strives to address social issues in India by creating sustainable business ventures.  We partner with universities in India and the work is both challenging and experiential.  The projects students work on are a part of the Acara Challenge, a national competition where the winning team is sent to India to implement their solution.

F1GMAT: Who should join Carlson MBA Program? What are some of the defining characteristics that you look for in a Carlson MBA candidate?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
There are several things; clearly we believe we have a very academically rigorous program. Our core in the first semester is very intense, so we need somebody to prove to us that they can handle the academic work. However, we also have the enterprise programs and international opportunities; experiences where students will engage directly with corporate clients and individuals with influence. So we look for really well-prepared students who are self-aware, self-actualized, extremely successful on a team, can communicate, and really want to step up and be a leader. Because the size of our programs, we seek students who can jump right in and become leaders. We look for that from the first day they get on campus and they need to show us that right away through the application, interview and personal statement.  We also like to see a diverse range of experiences. As much as we attract students with strong corporate experience, we also have students with exceptional nonprofit or scientific backgrounds. 

F1GMAT: Can you give our readers a demographic snapshot of the latest Full-time MBA program?
Carlson Full-time MBA Demographic
Carlson Full-time MBA Profile

F1GMAT: What are the post-MBA opportunities available for Carlson MBAs?

Linh Gilles(Carlson MBA):
Our Carlson MBA students are some of the most sought after students by organizations as indicated by our strong employment statistics below.  Post-MBA opportunities are just as diverse as the background, experience and interests of our MBA students.
Carlson Full-time MBA Empoyment Statistics

Carlson Full-time MBA Employment by Industry
About Carlson School of Management

Carlson School of ManagementEstablished in 1919 and based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota is a recognized leader in business education and research. Its focus on experiential learning, international education, and maintaining strong ties to the business community exemplify the school’s commitment to excellence.

About Linh Gilles

Linh Gilles is the Director of Admissions & Recruiting for the Full-Time & Part-Time MBA Programs at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.  Linh has worked with the Carlson Full-Time & Part-Time MBA programs for 6 years.  Prior to joining the Carlson School, Linh spent three years in Portland, Oregon and served as the Director of Admissions for the Australasian College of Health Sciences leading the admissions and recruiting efforts of their on-line educational programs.  Prior to her work at the Australasian College, Linh completed her teaching licensure in social studies education and then worked in undergraduate student recruitment and admissions across the 7 different colleges at the University of Minnesota.  Linh has a Master of Education from the College of Education and Human Development and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota.

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