Navigating a career pivot with a Mason School MBA

I graduated with a liberal arts degree in English and Political Science, and followed my passion in retail blind to the fact that I would go to business school and pursue a Finance career in the insurance industry. William & Mary allowed me to create quantitative connections to my previous business experiences in a place where I was safe to learn, explore, and challenge myself.

As I started my MBA, I embarked on a road that was seemingly foreign to me, not having taken a math class in nearly ten years. It took a lot of courage to even apply to the MBA program. My business experience prior to business school was in the retail industry, in various customer facing positions. As a District Manager for a fashion design, manufacturing and retailing operation, I developed a thirst for driving business through data. My retail experience allowed for me to explore and experiment, laying the groundwork for the company to grow. I realized I needed to learn more about business in a formal setting to enhance my career.Sarah Tanzer and classmate

When I arrived in Miller Hall, I knew I was in the right place to gain the tools to be competitive in business. With the help of classmates, professors, and the Executive Partners program network, I conquered material that was foreign to me. At William & Mary, the student community is supportive and not competitive. Classmates were happy to turn their attention from their own work to helping me understand certain quantitative concepts. I was able to use my strengths to help them in return. As time has passed, I have conquered certain topics and I am now able to help classmates as they did for me initially. The William & Mary education and the community fueled my transformation and has allowed my career pivot to take place.

These skills were put to work this past summer when I interned for Nationwide Insurance in the Office of Corporate Strategy through the Finance Leadership Rotation Program. At Nationwide, I was given a variety of projects, in conjunction with one summer-long assignment. With the knowledge I gained in the first-year classes at William & Mary, I was equipped to answer complex problems with a tight framework that led to business solutions. The culmination of the internship was when I presented my summer-long project to the entire Office of Corporate Strategy. I was prepared to make this presentation because I had presented numerous times in the first year of business school in front of classmates, Executive Partners, and corporate executives. The presentation I gave was not just a lecture but more of a conversation with people who were deciding the strategic direction of Nationwide. The research I conducted and recommendations I made would help them decide how to drive the company forward when I returned for the second year of business school. At the end of the summer, I received an offer to return full-time at the completion of business school with their Finance Leadership Rotation Program.

Sarah Tanzer and classmatesWilliam & Mary has enabled me to think about complex problems, create innovative solutions, and measure outcomes though quantitative analysis. The Raymond A. Mason School of Business has helped transition my retail experience into an opportunity I can pursue in the insurance industry. I look forward to seeing where the path will lead, knowing that William & Mary has prepared me to be successful and “OWN IT” on any path I choose. I cannot wait to see what this experience will provide for those fortunate enough to matriculate in the graduate program after me.