Why I Coach—Isabella Jiao

Isabella J., an expert Leland coach, Booth MBA, and Pro Writer, outlines why she chooses to coach and what it means to her.

Isabella J.

By Isabella J.

Posted August 22, 2022

I’m definitely not one of those cookie-cutter MBA candidate backgrounds. Having obtained both my Bachelors and Masters degrees from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in an accelerated 4-year program, I thought journalism was my path. I loved storytelling, and thrived as a writer, editor, international news producer and documentarian. But some soul-searching led me to realize that rather than reporting on the problems in our society, I’d rather be the solution in the form of entrepreneurship. To explain why I coach, I have to briefly take you on my journey of self discovery — which I actually found was the greatest gift during my application process. So please bear with me for a bit.

I briefly founded my own startup Wearever, a travel fashion rental company, to reduce fashion waste in the sharing economy. I also worked at the fintech company Wealthfront, which gave me the first professional experience in content strategy, social strategy and product marketing. My journalism training proved extremely helpful in my pivot into entrepreneurship. Years of training in interviews and storytelling trained my muscles in empathy, research, user discovery and messaging. I soon found that my biggest strength is working with ambiguity and helping early-stage startups build and scale their entire marketing function and growth.

The idea to apply to business school came to me while I was VP of Marketing at FanFood, an online food ordering platform for events and venues. While working hard and learning fast helps me in my role, I wanted to fill in my knowledge gaps with a more systematic approach. Getting an MBA degree will not only help me understand every aspect of a business in a structured way, but also widen my horizon by introducing me to brilliant peers I otherwise would probably not have encountered.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to have a clear goal and reason for why you want an MBA education — and in turn, I found that it really helps you in the application process. I wanted my MBA experience to accelerate my professional growth and supplement my own learnings to help me become better at my job. For this reason, I wanted a part-time program so I could apply my class learnings to work the very next day. I went through the entire application process, including GMAT, all by myself with no external guidance. While there’s a great deal of value in figuring things out on my own, I definitely wished there could have been someone alongside me to align my expectations and steer me clear of pitfalls.

I want to help others figure out their career paths and get into their dream schools. Having made several big pivots in my career, I hope to be of value to more out there who are still debating between different paths, and trying to articulate why they want to get an MBA. With years of experience in helping people polish their essays, resumes and interview skills, and having helped friends and families get into the likes of Kellogg, Sloan and Booth, I’d love to make it an easier and smoother journey for those aspiring to continue challenging themselves.

Interested in working together on your MBA application? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.

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