Why I Coach—Jill Lyon

Jill L., an expert Leland coach and Duke MBA, outlines why she chooses to coach and what it means to her.

Jill L.

By Jill L.

Posted August 22, 2022

In 2015, I had been working in international development in Washington D.C. for a few years and while I loved it, I no longer felt challenged. I had always thought I would go to grad school, so I began considering an MBA. The upside was high -- I would get a crash course in working in the private sector, challenging leadership opportunities, and a (significant) bump in pay once I graduated. I began researching schools and preparing for the applications. What I soon realized is they all required the same essay answering a simple, but terrifying question: Why an MBA?

I knew my answer to that question (see points above), but I also knew these points would not make for a great essay. I needed an amazing story, I needed post-MBA job ambitions. I researched top MBA program job placements, but I didn't immediately connect with any of them. What does someone with international development experience do post MBA? What do I want to do for the rest of my LIFE? I gave myself a month to write the essay and I began to spiral. I quickly realized I needed help.

Not knowing anyone with an MBA, I reached out to someone who had recently left my company and mentioned "Wharton" in his goodbye email. Lucky for me, I had just struck gold. Without ever even meeting me, my new "coach" helped me with my essays and gave me concrete advice on what matters, and where I shouldn't be wasting my time. This support brought me to a new level of confidence when submitting my applications. And it worked--I got in everywhere I applied.

Coaching was exactly what I needed to take a step back, focus on what mattered, and move the process forward. I'm so thankful for my coach, and for the dozens of friends and family who read my essays so I put my best foot forward in my applications. I coach so I can be a guide (and voice of reason) to those applying to business school now, and to help them achieve what seems like the impossible.

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

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