I’m a past CORe participant and am currently enrolled in the MBA program at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University. I work in business operations for University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, and previously I worked in healthcare marketing. While I originally enrolled in CORe to determine if I wanted to pursue an MBA, I ended up using the knowledge I gained from CORe to interview for and land my current job.

Considering an MBA

I signed up for CORe because I was on the fence about starting an MBA program and wanted to gain some experience in graduate level coursework. I had been out of school for about eight years when I took CORe, so I think it was a great way to help me adjust to the "classroom" again. Because I was a communications major as an undergraduate, and at the time worked in healthcare marketing, I didn't think I had enough of the right experience to prepare me for business school. I knew that CORe would help lay the business foundation for my future career and business school applications.

CORe helped give me the confidence to apply to a few different MBA programs. I was anxious about balancing work and a graduate program, but felt that my experience with CORe gave me the confidence I needed to apply and feel ready to go back to school.

Using HBS Online to prepare for an MBA

After a leadership course, accounting and statistics were the first two classes we took in my MBA program. Having the experience of CORe helped me feel more prepared for both courses. A few times in accounting, I got confused about some of the concepts that were presented in lectures and pulled out my notes from CORe to help me study. Even on my exams, I wrote down A = L + E with debits and credits the same way I did when I was studying during CORe.

Analytics also really helped me understand my statistics course better as well. Our class went into much more detail than what we learned in CORe, so having the base knowledge of what I learned in CORe helped me better understand the material, and I was able help my teammates on our regression analysis project and group homework assignments. 

I also think that the case study method of CORe helped me prepare for my MBA program. I have a bachelor's in communication and never had seen a case study before CORe. The way the material is presented really helped me understand the details of the cases covered and how to think through case studies as I analyze them in my MBA classes now. 

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Bringing HBS Online skills to work

I interviewed for my current role the day before the CORe final exam and talked with my now-manager about how much I learned about accounting, reading financial statements, and data analytics, and how I could apply that to my current role. My job is project-based, and I'm currently leading the operational functions of a system-wide IT implementation, a project that affects the daily work of a few thousand employees. Knowing how to read financial statements or look at data sets and understand them has helped me make major decisions on future state reporting. For example, we used reports of how many patients each office sees per day to use a regression analysis to predict how busy one office may be over another so that we could plan appropriate support for each office during the rollout. 

Joining the HBS Online network

One thing that surprised me about CORe was that I didn't expect to get as much value out of networking and creating relationships with my fellow students as I did. I've always been anxious to put myself out there and go to networking and professional events, but CORe really helped me get out of my comfort zone and open up more during cold calls, commenting on others' posts and making professional relationships.

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Kali Pfaff

About the Author

Kali Pfaff is a former CORe participant who works in business operations for University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio and is also in her second year of the MBA program at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Outside of work and school, she enjoys volunteering as an alumna adviser for her sorority's Case Western chapter, traveling and running marathons.