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Ask the Expert: A Look at the Fulbright Program Admissions Process

We had an e-coffee with admissions consultant Joe Warren to learn about the Fulbright program admissions process and how his experience with this scholarship can assist students in the MBA admissions process. Also, we got to know a little about Joe’s life outside of the professional sphere.

 

Joseph Warren was born in the suburbs of Washington DC. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from the prestigious Swarthmore College in the East Coast of the US. He majored in Spanish Language and Literature, Latin American Studies, and Film & Media Studies. After that, he won an English Teaching Assistant Fulbright Award and traveled to Mar del Plata to join English teachers at the local national university. He is currently working in the tech industry. Throughout our conversation, it becomes clear that travelling and languages are true passions for Joe. “Viví un tiempo en Palermo y un año en Mar del Plata,” he says proudly in a perfect porteño Spanish. He has also lived and worked in Mexico City, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and now resides outside of Miami.

 

Why did you choose Argentina for your Fulbright experience?

My love for the Spanish language first and Argentine culture later started when I was in college. I had to take Spanish as a freshman and I wasn’t planning on taking another Spanish class afterwards.

 

But I had a teacher, an Argentine teacher from Tandil, who approached me after class one time and told me that I would be good with the language. He saw skills in me that I wasn’t aware I had.

 

I think he gave me good grades just to encourage me to continue studying the language. In 2014 I went to Buenos Aires to take some classes as part of my bachelor degree and I loved it. I fell in love with the “coffee culture.” I really love sitting in a cafe, drinking tons of coffee and reading something or just hanging out. I had small Spanish classes at that moment, with just 2 or 3 classmates and a teacher. I’m still in contact with most of them today. So when I decided to apply for the Fulbright Grant, Argentina was my first choice. Fulbright programs don’t allow students who have chosen Argentina to stay in Buenos Aires, so I went to Mar del Plata. And I loved it! I worked as a teacher assistant in the English department and I also helped students who wanted to apply to international grants. 

 

How was the Fulbright application process?

Fulbright is a very well known program. Broadly speaking, you have 2 types of programs: Research Award and English Teaching Assistant Award. The latter places undergraduate students in schools overseas to boost English language teaching and to provide a native speaker presence in the classrooms.

 

I was selected with another 20 students among a pool of 200 candidates.

 

I was really happy when I got the scholarship. I think my background attending a renowned school like Swarthmore really helped me get the prize. To apply I had to write 2 essays and provide 3 letters of recommendation. The essay questions were basically “Why do you want the grant?” and “Why did you choose Argentina?” At that moment the Trump administration was about to start. I don’t think politics are usually a good topic to talk about in these types of essays. But I did it very subtly. Basically, what I said was that I saw the Fulbright Award as a bridge between cultures. At that particular moment, it felt really necessary to connect with people from other places and other cultures. Fulbright is an exchange: I went down to Argentina and someone from Argentina came to the US. I wanted to give back to the Argentine what I felt I got from the country. Everyone was always so friendly there. I really miss it! But speaking about the application process, I think choosing the right recommenders was a huge part of the process.

 

I chose 3 professors from Argentina and I really think those recommenders made a big difference in my application. 

 

Why do you like working as admissions consulting?

I really love the idea of helping someone achieve their lifelong dreams.  I have experience helping others  with applications; for grants as I mentioned before. I also worked for Franklin Educational Services, a tutoring and consulting company in LA for 2 years. I saw how helpful and valuable this type of work was for undergrad and really enjoyed it.   

 

What would you advise someone who is thinking about applying to an MBA?

 

My biggest piece of advice is to take time to go through the application process!

 

It’s important to pay attention to every step and every detail. And to do that, you will need time. Another important factor to consider when applying, especially if you are an international student, is to really research the location where you will be doing your MBA. My experience at Swarthmore was amazing, but if I had known how winters in that part of the country were, I’d have probably chosen a different location. 

 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love reading and movies, of course! I’m currently writing too. I’ve been writing fiction for a while now. That’s my long term goal, to have a book published!

 

What book/movie would you take to a deserted island?

That’s a tough question! I think I’d take El Quijote. You can read it 100 times and it will always be a different experience. Or Rayuela, which is similar in that sense. And I love them both! As for movies, I would probably pick Y tu mama tambien.

 

 


If you need help with the GMAT or the admissions process we can help.  For more information on our different GMAT products see:

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  • Merchant GMAT Hall of Fame – a gallery of some of our clients over the last eight years.

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Tim Jackson

Director of Student Success

- "Preparing for the GMAT and applying for an MBA requires a tremendous commitment, and that doesn’t take into consideration the personal challenges our students must face when deciding if they want to leave their friends, families, and native cultures behind to advance their careers abroad. An MBA is not for everyone and that’s precisely what makes this advanced degree so valuable. 

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