Alex Mauthe, MM '21
An education that comes with a sense of community and enthusiasm is something that Alex Mauthe had been looking for.
Alex didn’t feel particularly tied to her undergraduate schools, however. She transferred from a larger Wisconsin institution to a small state school, but neither stirred up that school spirit she saw others have about their institutions: “I never really felt that connection with my undergraduate institutions, that sense of school pride.”
Unsure of her next move after graduation, the Michigan Ross Master of Management (MM) Program seemingly fell into her lap: “I was actually on LinkedIn when I saw the Master of Management Program,” she said. The ten-month program is geared toward recent, non-business graduates looking to gain skills in all areas of business. Alex wanted a master’s that would help elevate her undergraduate degree and help her get into the world of consulting.
The more I read into it, the more it just felt like a perfect fit.
“Michigan was one of the only schools that had a one-year program that would allow me to understand business without having a business major,” Alex said. In addition, learning in a fast-paced environment with students from similar backgrounds made the program environment welcoming; she’d be coming in with the same knowledge base as her peers. “I was drawn to Michigan, and I felt like it was the best place for me.”
And in Alex’s words, Ann Arbor was love at first sight. Despite the pandemic causing physical distancing, Alex knew she wanted to be in Ann Arbor for the year. “I did take the leap, and I moved to Ann Arbor, and all of my roommates were MMs as well,” she said. “Being able to be alongside my classmates in some capacity was something I wanted.”
Finding Her Community
Connection is what Alex felt she got most out of her time in the MM program -- an overwhelming sense of community that she and her peers created despite the pandemic. Collaborative projects were common in all of her classes, allowing her to not just work alongside those in her cohort, but begin to develop genuine connections. Alongside her classmates, professors were more than willing to connect with students outside the classroom through coffee chats and office hours. Alex says the program didn’t feel competitive, either. Efforts by faculty, staff, and program directors highlighted everyone’s unique perspective and created a welcoming environment. “It felt like everyone wanted us to know we were cared for,” she said.
Everybody was so willing to help and wanted us to succeed in what we were doing. You make life-long friendships while in the program.
That sense of community allowed her to take the rigorous workload head-on. The program’s focus on communicating with others and in groups allowed Alex to accelerate her leadership skills. Although virtual learning was difficult at times, Alex saw the perks of learning how to communicate online: “I think we all knew the virtual world wasn’t going to stop after the pandemic,” she said, “So I saw it as a benefit and something valuable I took away from my time in the program.”
For future MM students, Alex believes that investing yourself in the program is the best thing a student can do. “Take a leap of faith, go all in: take all the classes that interest you, join all of the clubs that you can, connect with all the people, do all the social things. Immerse yourself entirely for the ten months because the program goes by so quick,” she said. “Trust the process that they provide you in terms of looking for a job. The summer starts all rocky, and they're telling you all of these things, and it might be overwhelming, but trust the process. Do what they say. And enjoy every second.”
Testing Her Knowledge
After her first term in the program, Alex joined OptiM Consulting Group to put her consulting skills to the test. Started at Michigan Ross, OptiM is a club made up of students from the Master of Management Program and the Master of Supply Chain Management Program. In their first case, Alex and her team were able to take their time, figuring out the proper methods to research and analyze company problems. “It taught me how to lead and direct and communicate properly to a team.” Through a test case for the famous Detroit watch and luxury goods maker, Shinola, Alex learned what it was like to consult for a real company.
Her experience with the Shinola simulation prepared her for the real test with OptiM: helping local companies with their business models. Working as a senior analyst for her first project, Alex assisted in cost-benefit analysis and growth strategies. She communicated with business owners and worked on her professional style. Eventually, Alex went on to work as an OptiM project manager for a Detroit coffee shop and lemonade business, during which she explored competitors in the industry and best practices for the company. “Each project taught me something different and allowed me to be uncomfortable, to realize what I don't know and then build up that skill set in a non-classroom environment.”
Beyond her involvement with OptiM, Alex participated in the Living Business Leadership Experience (LBLE) course. The course tasks students with turning their classroom knowledge into tangible impact, leading effectively in all areas of a company. Her project required her to assist a local business, State and Liberty, with evaluating their sales data. The luxury men’s clothing store for athletes was attempting to move into a new market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex was able to help the company use their data to create potential marketing experiments to implement to best target their new customer base. “LBLE was what I had expected from Ross when I was applying to the program,” Alex said. “I was hoping to get that real-life experience and worried that when the pandemic hit, I wouldn’t be able to. But despite things being mostly virtual, I got the experiences I signed up for.”
After her graduation from the MM program, Alex took a moment to relax from the high-paced lifestyle she had at Ross, but just for three weeks. She’d been hired at a political consulting firm in Charlottesville and was ready to make another move to start her journey in consulting.
I'm excited about all the possibilities; I feel fully equipped for everything that'll come my way in the business world because of Michigan.