After his college graduation, Scott Peiser went to work as an analyst for a marketing firm. As Scott looked ahead, he knew he wanted to gather insights at the front end, working directly with brands and consumers, rather than analyzing the resulting data. He knew an MBA would boost his career trajectory and that the specialization model at UW—Madison offers the best market research MBA in the country through its A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research.
Wisconsin is close knit; you really get to know the students and professors. Classes are interactive and discussion based, so we really engage each day. Small program size factored into my decision to study here. I didn’t want to be another number rolling out of an MBA program.
The specialized curriculum at Wisconsin gave me opportunities that are simply not available at other top-ranked programs across the country, in part because of my specialization’s connections with marquee employers. Due to the national reputation of the program, there are some market research jobs for which companies only recruit from our program. The specialization structure has allowed me to build an incredibly close network, personally and professionally. I learn alongside like-minded individuals, and we help each other grow. As a complement, my core classes, such as marketing, finance, and operations, gave me a solid general management base as I worked in cross-functional teams with students in the other specializations.
The Wisconsin MBA program has given me an opportunity to shape my career and my way moving forward.
Applied learning courses helped me use what I learned to tackle real world problems. Top companies from around the country join in to teach us. Representatives from Mattel and Microsoft each taught for a day. It is very interactive; they give us cases or projects and follow up with discussion of the results. We also visited General Mills and Procter and & Gamble, and went through day-long exercises to practice the skills we learn in the program.
The level of involvement of advisory boards sets the Wisconsin MBA apart from other top programs. It is rare to get such exposure to professionals so high up in organizations in the exact positions we seek. Each year we have two advisory board meetings that include one-on-one time with 20-30 professionals in our specific industry. Board members are extremely willing to mentor us during and after the meetings.
I came in thinking I knew how to interview—until I heard about how the second-year students interviewed! Then I realized how far I had to progress to be successful. Career Services gave me interview guidance through classes, with mock interviews, and simply by making me more comfortable answering essential questions. The skills I gained will help me throughout my career.
As an undergrad, I was aware of the strong UW alumni network, but the impact is even greater for me as an MBA student. As with the advisory boards, alumni support our classes, prepare us for interviews, and connect us to internships. That support was essential in positioning me to earn and succeed in my PepsiCo internship, which led to a full-time offer as associate manager of consumer insights at Pepsico.