Hometown: Roanoke, VA
Undergraduate University: Virginia Military Institute
Class Year: 2018
Internship: Eli Lilly
Carlee Anderson was a self-proclaimed unlikely candidate for business school. She was an English major at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) with plans to apply for William & Mary's law program when one morning, she realized that wasn't the right path for her. An advertisement for William & Mary's business school prompted her to connect with Amanda Barth, the Director of Admissions for the full-time MBA program. Their conversation changed Carlee's trajectory, and three months after earning her undergraduate degree, she found herself among accomplished, experienced business professionals in the full-time program.
"I was really hesitant about being so young and coming into this. But a distinct conversation I had with Amanda was that as a woman, coming out with an MBA. It sets me up. I didn't want to get into a part of my career where I hit a ceiling because I didn't have a master's degree and wouldn't have time to step away from my job and family to go back to school," she says.
Carlee is appreciative of the full-time program's diversity, not just the cultural and social diversity of the cohort but of the professional backgrounds, experience levels, and perspectives of her classmates and professors.
"I come from VMI where everyone is the same; we dress the same, we talk the same, we act the same. I'm from a small town in Virginia, too, so diversity is not something that I am accustomed to. But coming here and learning about all of the different cultures and different experiences are amazing," she says.
She champions her mentors from the Executive Partner program as a pillar of support as she transitioned from being an undergraduate to a graduate, job-seeking student.
"In my first meeting with Grace [Diaz-Tubbs], she looked me up and down and said, 'you need to get your stuff together.' And I said, 'you are right, I am not an undergrad anymore'," she explains. "They've probably been my harshest critics but also my biggest supporters, and they look at me and say, 'I'm taking my coaching hat off right now, and I'm trying to mentor you at this point,' I did express to them when I came in that I was very young and very naÏve and I haven't done much with my life in comparison to my peers, and they've done so much. They've helped me grow up in a sense as a professional. That's so valuable."
Carlee's success translated into securing an internship early on in her tenure in the MBA program despite her slim resume and budding technical skills. She attended the National Black MBA conference and leaned on what she knew best—talking to people, sharing her experiences, and being friendly.
A chance conversation over Division I athletics—Carlee played soccer at VMI—with a representative from Eli Lilly turned into an introduction to a hiring manager, an interview, and ultimately a summer internship offer in San Diego working in pharmaceutical sales.
"I would not let your resume, or a piece of paper, or a GPA, or a transcript define where you want to go and what you want to do. I probably, on paper, wouldn't have been about to get into this school. But talking to the right people, and having the right attitude and being excited—being passionate about something and having the right intentions of going into a program—really means a lot, and I think that's kind of what got me here, is saying I will commit myself to this," she says.