Charles Cotey

Rice MBA Full Time Class of 2017

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Undergraduate School and Major (Include Graduate School if Relevant): University of Colorado, Colorado Springs: Electrical Engineering (B.S.E.E.)

Employer and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • United States Navy: Special Warfare Operator
  • Cubic Corporation: Instructor

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I would highly recommend studying a short time (a few weeks) for the GMAT and then taking a real one. This gives you a true baseline that can help you narrow your focus for studying. Granted, it costs 250 dollars but I feel it is well worth it. I would also say that the Manhattan study guides are extremely good and worth every penny for the full self-study materials. I did a little bit with The Economist online prep materials and found them to be very good as well. I think for someone who is working full time and likes materials on their mobile phone or tablet, The Economist may be just the thing.

There are no two ways about it the GMAT can be a real nightmare. Being a computer adaptive test ensures this. However, it helps to keep one thought in mind. This test is not about the information you know, it is purely about decision making. In fact, it is about this one idea only:  Making the GOOD ENOUGH decision in the PERFECT amount of time, not making the perfect decision in too long of an amount of time or a bad decision in too short of an amount of time. Timing is everything.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? I would posit that rank is not everything. Look into what you want to do after school and where you want to do it. Find schools that meet these criteria and then go from there. Just because a school is ranked #1 for something does not mean it is #1 for you and your goals. I feel that many people get too caught up in the “ranking hunt” game of only trying to go to the most prestigious schools. Understand this: Is the MBA your objective or what is after your MBA the priority? By saying this I do not mean to trivialize the MBA process or schooling, only that you are furthering your education for a purpose and not simply for the education. This will shed light on your school choices.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Apply to all the schools that really interest you. Don’t hold back simply because you feel that you don’t have a chance to go there. I assume you have people who will give you good recommendations. That said, prep the battlefield and make sure they know what type of person you would like to be portrayed as. This is not to say to write it for them or even coach them. Instead, simply give them some idea of what is needed and what attributes that you really need emphasized.  Everyone has many great talents and attributes, but some are much more beneficial towards an MBA application than others.

Now onto essays and interviews — be yourself in business attire. What does that mean? Keep your quirks and personality, but do so in a toned down version of yourself. Conform to good business standards of dress, speech and mannerisms, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you don’t leave a “bookmark” in the interviewer’s/reader’s mind, then you have failed. You are now one of the crowd and will be relegated to obscurity. Make them remember you, but positively.  If you have not read it yet then go read, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. There is a reason it has been around for longer than 75 years and is still in print.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I was very impressed by my campus visit to Rice and loved the atmosphere and staff. Rice is also very veteran friendly and Houston has myriad opportunities for employment in the business sectors that interest me.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I would love to help raise awareness in the veteran communities that I am a part of about all the opportunities in corporate America for our skill sets.