Oct 20, 2014

A Few Notes on Location or Why it’s Awesome to Live in the Middle of Nowhere

By Kiley Winsnes T'16

Kiley is a first-year student at Tuck. Before arriving in Hanover, she was living in stunning San Francisco and working for an integration software company. Originally from Chicago, Kiley spent her formative years in Seattle before chasing the California sunshine for her undergraduate degree in economics and religious studies. After Tuck, she hopes to get a job that combines two of her passions: fitness and technology. Outside of the classroom, Kiley enjoys running, road biking, writing, and the beverages of her two home cities: coffee and wine. Kiley can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter at @kileywins.

In writing about Hanover on my personal blog, I’ve taken to calling it—appropriately, I think—"the middle of nowhere.” Some of you may be wondering what in the world prompted me to leave the hands down (don't even try to fight me on this) best city in the world, San Francisco, to come to school in the woods of New Hampshire. And, more importantly, if I want to get a job on the West Coast, what am I doing leaving for school? My only response: great questions! Have you considered b-school, you analytical genius, you?

But actually, there are reasons. A few I had in mind before I came, others I've added to my list since arriving.

My logic when applying:

  1. Mike D. told me to. Okay, you don't know who Mike D. is, but trust me when I tell you his advice is pretty much gold. Mike was my first manager out of school, so when not only he, but my two subsequent managers, all happened to be Tuckies, I knew the school was worth looking into.
  2. I didn't want a city. I was looking for a completely immersive experience, and I knew that going to an urban campus would mean that most of my classmates would already have friends and family nearby, and they would likely return to those social circles after class and on the weekends. I was attracted to the fact that everyone coming to Tuck would be starting out on the same foot—excited to meet new people and spend time together outside the classroom.
  3. Moving here is a big choice. Going to b-school in the city where you've lived for the past few years is one thing, but quitting your job, ripping up whatever roots you've planted, and moving to (here we go) the middle of nowhere, means you're *really* in this for the long haul. Students here have made financial and emotional sacrifices to be at Tuck, so you know they are dedicated to having a positive, life-changing experience.
  4. It was different (for me). I'm a Midwesterner by birth, and a West Coaster by transplant. I've spent all of about 10 days cumulatively on the East Coast, and I was worried I might be a little biased toward the best West Coast. So I decided to force myself out of my comfort zone for two years, figuring that, if I hated it, 24 months wasn't that long, and if I loved it, I'd already have a fantastic network to tap into. Win win.
  5. The Tuck brand. I know it’s not exactly politically correct to point it out, but let’s be honest—rankings matter. An MBA is an investment and ensuring you’ll get a return is critical to the decision-making process. Tuck is consistently ranked in the top five in the lists people care about. Often, those lists highlight Tuck’s rate of alumni giving which is consistently the highest among all programs. This was a big strength to me since I was unsure where I wanted to work after school. Any programs with overly strong regional ties were not an option for me since I would most likely have trouble getting a job outside the city or state where the school is located. While Tuck definitely has a strong brand image in the Northeast, the alumni network is well spread out, with plenty of presence on the West Coast, so I knew that no matter where I decided to settle down after school, I could find people willing to help me in my job search. And, even if I didn’t end up leveraging the network, I knew I would still have the strength of an MBA from a top five school. It's hard to overstate the value in that.

What I've realized since I arrived:

  1. This place—the Upper Valley—is stunning. I know you're probably beyond sick and tired of hearing this, but I can't stop. I've included a couple of photos. Just ... look.
  2. The workout junkie in me is on cloud nine. I walk out of my dorm and have access to more miles of running trails and biking routes than any human could ever use in a lifetime. Add that to access to world-class hikes, and, when the snow arrives—which I'm told is like ... tomorrow—skiing is apparently just around the corner.
  3. People come to us. The visiting executive program and on-campus recruiting at Tuck are nothing short of astounding. C-suite folks are wandering campus just about every day, and we have opportunities to hear them speak, mingle with them at happy hours, and sit down with them at small-group dinners. Those interested in consulting and banking have on-campus recruiting events just about every day, meeting with reps from all the biggest firms.
  4. Hanover itself is an adorable town. For those who find even marginal value—T'16s: see what I did there?—in having a sense of belonging to the community beyond just your classmates, this place is perfect. I'm not a college-town buff by any means, but I'd be amazed if Hanover doesn't come close to the top of the list.
  5. Being here bonds people. As I mentioned above, I had a sense that moving here would mean people were dedicated to school, but there's something indescribable about the “Hanover bond.” We're a bunch of city slickers living in the woods, bonding over the lack of a Target and reminiscing over our respective homes' best breakfast burritos.

So, are we in the middle of nowhere? Absolutely. Is it going to harm any of our chances of getting the job of our dreams? Definitely not. Is it going to create two of the most unique, memorable years of our lives? Yes, yes it is. And that is worth all the surpassed San Francisco breakfast burritos, plus some.