Justin McCarthy

Justin McCarthy, BBA ’19

Finding a Home in a Large University

As a first-generation college student, Justin wasn’t sure of the best approach to the application and selection process. A campus visit to Michigan Ross provided some clarity.

“I applied to 14 or 15 schools. I cast a wide net; I wanted to see where I got in,” Justin says. “I started doing visits, and I came up here with my mom and did a prospective student visit. It actually turned out to be a really incredible time for me, and I really enjoyed the campus. I landed on Michigan because I knew I wanted to major in business and Ross is obviously a top program.

“Also, I'm personally a huge sports guy. I love going to football games on Saturdays. I love being at the basketball games. I wanted somewhere where I could enjoy my four years as well as get a lot out of the education, and I thought Michigan was the perfect blend.”

Asked to name a favorite Ross class so far, Justin mentions Business Law 300, taught by Jeremy Kress. “He took material that would, to the outsider, seem incredibly dry and spun it to make it one of the most engaging classes. It was an 80-minute class, but it felt like it flew by in 25 minutes,” Justin says. “It was fun for me to try and analyze a case, given the framework he provided. It was interesting to learn precedent about certain cases in the past that had set certain rules and regulations. Professor Kress worked for the Fed, and he helped write part of the Dodd-Frank Act. I'm getting taught these things from the guy who, literally, wrote the book.”

Activities outside of class, though, were key to Justin finding his place at Michigan Ross. In addition to working for two units at Ross — the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Career Development Office — he’s active in a pre-law fraternity and in the Apex Trading Group at Ross. “We manage our own portfolio funds and give stock pitches and invest student-raised money to try and turn a profit each year,” he says. “There are some really outstanding clubs and organizations that we get to be a part of. They do some things that you would never believe 20- to 22-year-olds would be doing.”

Finding the groups that are right for you can help turn U-M into your new home, Justin notes.

“I was a little nervous coming to a university that has 29,000 undergrads. But Michigan is set up in such a way that you find your small community within the university. If you become a Ross BBA, you're in a class of 625 people, and you're in your cohort of 85 people. You'll know each one of them by name, you'll know their story, you'll have worked with them. And then you join a club, and you find a group of 20 people. You'll know what they like, what they don't like, their interests. You'll see them at lunch and dinner and in class. The one thing that I was nervous about coming to school was not knowing anyone and feeling like I would be lost. But everyone's got a group; everyone's got five groups. Everyone's got things that they do around campus that make it feel small, and everyone finds their own way to do that.”

Working in the Career Development Office has given Justin a deep appreciation for its offerings — and what that means for his future: “Our career office brings in the largest companies in the world; we have partnerships with them. They had 45 banks come to the school in one day for our Career Fair. You see that impact when you go out for your interviews. Whenever I was in New York for an interview, I’d hear, ‘Yeah, we only recruit at three schools, Wharton, Harvard, and Michigan.’ It feels good knowing that you're one of those three target schools; it makes you feel like you made a really great choice and they're doing something right to prepare you for success.”