We Are Group!

Li Meng Blog

Group projects are the worst aren’t they? Remember back in undergrad when you always got put with the worst teammates? There was always one person that was only able to meet at 6:00am every other Saturday. Then there was the member who wanted the entire financial analysis project to be about cats and would argue if you disagreed in the slightest. And lastly, my favorite, the one who never showed up. Ever. Fortunately, I can tell you that has not even been close to my experience at the GSM.

Even before classes start, bright eyed GSMers are assigned to teams in order to participate in real, live case competitions organized by Fortune 500 companies. This is the first opportunity to get to know our classmates and how they perform in group situations. From the first day of most core classes in the fall, groups are either assigned or selected by students here in the Davis MBA program. Whether matched up with random teammates or ones you decide, the experience will always be a positive one. With a random group in Articulation and Critical Thinking, I was matched up with classmates I had not worked with before and very much enjoyed learning about their past experiences and varied viewpoints on the topics at hand.

 

group

For Statistics, we were allowed to form our own groups and I managed to join an all-star team of 4 eclectic individuals. Though we all came from different backgrounds and industries, we all came together and contributed equally to the challenging projects we were faced with. From the beginning, we spent much time given each other nicknames and pasting funny pictures into a shared Google doc. However, every member’s drive and own brand of humor propelled us to do great work for the projects and the class in general. The food we brought for each meeting certainly did not dampen our spirits.

I hope you are as excited as I am to be working with peers here at the UC Davis MBA and hope that this blurb eased your doubts about group projects at the MBA level a bit. Just remember to bring snacks!

pizza

 

Blog by Li Meng – Class of 2016

“You’re Doing It All Wrong”

Mackenzie's blog

I am writing from the other side. That’s right. I made it. Graduated. Took that MBA bull by the horns and held on tight for two years until the program flung me violently off into the real world – and into my dream job. But that’s beside the point.

After rewarding myself with vacations to Hawaii, Nepal, and Australia along with some much needed relaxation after the grueling and incredible MBA program at Davis, I finally could get some distance and look back at my experience. And I am writing to tell everyone who is lucky enough to still be there that you are doing it all wrong.

Don’t skip class. Seriously, about half of the math nerds in there have done the calculation for how much we are paying for every 15 minutes in the classroom and you don’t want to think about how much you are throwing down the drain if you skip a single one. (Note: I skipped a grand total of 8.) And when you are there, pay attention. Shut the laptop once in a while and take notes by hand. Do whatever you have to do to really listen. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t wish I could pull exactly what my professor said in Strategy out of my sleeve in a meeting, and dear me, I would give anything to go back and master accounting (it is the key to everything in business). And definitely take classes outside your discipline. Make yourself as valuable as you can in your future.

Oh, and while you are at it, please network more. I had an informational interview schedule of at least one every two weeks. I wish I had done three a week minimum. That “MBA halo” doesn’t last forever – and you wouldn’t believe the people you can get to sit down with you while you are in the program.

Now, definitely join a club. Join three! Attend to a club event. Make a difference in your school community. Help set up for an event. Also, make sure you play IM sports – or if that’s not your thing – go cheer on your awesome GSM classmates in the big game. Make a sign! (ASM has all the supplies in the clubroom…)

And play way more. Have a beer with your friends after class. Or red wine, if that’s your druthers. Enjoy the student lifestyle; I can promise you it does not last forever, for better and for worse.

I think what I am saying is: you are probably doing some of this and doing it really well. Do more. You are here for so many reasons – to get a job, to jumpstart your professional life, to meet likeminded motivated individuals, to have unforgettable experiences. You are not actually doing it all wrong, but I guarantee you that you are not taking advantage of all the amazing opportunities that you have in front of you right now.

So, you’re not doing it all wrong at all. You’re doing great. Be present, work hard, and have fun. You’ll be amazed where you end up. I promise.

“Dress (and Research) for Success”

I tapped my toes nervously in the waiting room outside the office where I would shortly be having my interview. I looked down and saw I was wearing neon green spandex running tights, a loose button up shirt, and my slightly scuffed running shoes.

What might have been a nightmare for almost anyone else (equivalent to realizing you went to the interview in your underwear), just reminded me of how thankful I was for the sweat-wicking properties of my interview outfit at that moment.

“Mackenzie?” My interviewer at one of the USA’s major sporting brands stuck her head out of the room. She had a sporty ponytail atop her head hinting she may have gone running that morning and was wearing (similar to my outfit) running tights and a baggy sweater. As I got up and walked through the door into her office, she said with a smile, “Nice tights! You look like you already work here.”

A week later I was suited up head to toe in the most classic corporate America interview wear possible interviewing for a job at a top level insurance company.

While these are two extremes on the spectrum, the lesson is applicable everywhere. Know your industry and know the company culture where you are going to be interviewing. Some more granola or sports oriented companies won’t even consider you if you come dressed in a full suit (“S/he just wouldn’t fit the culture”). Others it would be a seriously bad decision to wear neon green of any kind in the interview.

Before an interview, you should be researching your company extensively online (probably set up Google alerts to know of any recent news), but also talk to as many people as you can who have contact with the culture (second years and peers who have already interviewed, alumni who work in the company, and more).

You only have one chance for a first impression – dress, and research, for success!

Blog by Mackenzie Guinon – Class of 2014

NOM NOM NOM!

NOM NOM NOM

UC Davis is world renowned for its expertise in the agriculture industry.  This is one of the main reasons I chose to attend the MBA program here.  Food and cooking have always been passions of mine which have turned into a desire to launch a career in the agribusiness sector.  As students at the Graduate School of Management (GSM), we have access to the latest advancements and cutting edge technology in the food and beverage world.  Speakers often visit giving talks about what the future holds in this challenging but ever important mission to grow crops.  I knew I would be surrounded by a bunch of “Aggies” here in Davis and couldn’t wait to soak up all the information available.  What I didn’t realize was that my education would expand beyond agribusiness into an exciting world of cultural cuisine.

Although our full-time MBA program has 45 students, we are an extremely diverse group.  Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of this posting.  After just one quarter in Davis I have been introduced to all kinds of delicious new recipes and cooking styles.  In October, a few of my classmates from India invited us all over for a traditional meal.  All we had to do was provide drinks and silverware and they took care of the rest.  We arrived to a feast of dishes prepared to perfection by Rahul, Zalak, Sriram, and Gaanesh (All Class of 2016).  The air was filled by the smell of Daal, Chana Masala, Zeera rice, Gulab Zamun, Papad, Rotis, and Raita.  An even more formal gathering was arranged soon after called the Diwali Festival.  This included traditional Indian food along with Indian dances and games.

Later in October it was time to head east to the Philippines.  This meal featured small pork rolls called lumpia that I think I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  NOM!  Filipino night also included pancit bihon which we washed down with some calamnsi juice.  Soon after we ventured north to the Sichuan Province in China.  Luckily my roommate Elizabeth Liu(AKA Mother Liu Class of 2016) toned down the spices so that our American taste buds could live to see another burger.  Sichuan night was unforgettable because the food never stopped coming!  Double cooked pork, Ma Po Tofu, mushroom stew, cucumber salad, stir fried pork, kung pao chicken…you get the picture.  We ate for dayssss.  Literally though, we were eating some of the leftovers 4 days later.

Sichuan night was such a hit that we had to do another round of Chinese cuisine.  We switched it up and wandered to Northern China with the Meng Dynasty (Li Meng class of 2016).  Peking duck, dumplings, Nu Rou, shrimp stir, and green bean stew were prepared flawlessly.

I would be foolish not to include the largest feast of the first quarter, Thanksgiving.  This was not just any Thanksgiving feast.  It was a giant potluck that brought together full- time MBA, part- time MBA, and Masters of Accounting students.  For many international students this was their first Thanksgiving and the requirement was to contribute any dish you may serve at a large holiday meal.  All the classics were present including turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and stuffing.  But as you meandered along the feeding tables there were many new additions that provided exciting flavors.

I am now far too hungry to continue writing about the mouthwatering meals we MBA students have shared together.  It has been a wonderful surprise being able to experience so many authentic cultural cooking styles in such a short period of time.  But really the most important aspect of this unexpected education has been the ability to bond with classmates.  Simply being around one another away from the classroom setting really allows you to get to know the people sitting all around you during that Financial Accounting course.  Food has a way of bringing people together and here at the GSM we couldn’t agree more.  This quarter we will be continuing our world travels to my roots in Portugal when we cook up linguica, morcela/blood sausage, and a splash of tawny port to cap it off.  NOM NOM NOM!

Blog by Jeff Ornellas – Class of 2016

Communicating in English as Second Language

UC Davis Ambassador

The first challenge I faced in B-school was communication in English.

Communication is key in day-to-day business. This is a fact. This is also a challenge. As an international student who speaks English as second language, I’m pleased with how much progress I’ve made in such a short amount of time.

While I was applying to B-school, I heard about the Articulation and Critical Thinking course that is required during the first quarter. In fact, GSM offers a multitude of opportunities to improve your communication skills.  These range from classes, workshops, help sessions and much more. I can give you a long list: Articulation and Critical Thinking, Business Writing, English Blast, Cover Letter Writing, Strategic Communication, and so on.  Some of them are specifically designed for international students. They cover almost all of the different skills you would like to practice, from pronunciation to strategic argument building.

I have  benefited from these offerings so much  that my progress exceeded my expectations. Beyond the actual knowledge I’ve acquired, the learning environment the GSM has provided is equally impressive. You have easy access to a variety of resources. Faculty and staff are approachable. If not one-on-one, group sizes are small and manageable.. You receive attention, assistance, and support that are well tailored just for you.

I have to mention some  names who have helped me on this journey: Elizabeth Moon, communication expert, who taught English cross-culturally for quite a few years. She is very supportive and adaptive to your needs. Daniel Kennedy, professor of Articulation and Critical Thinking class. He gave each of us individual feedback and comments on our public speaking skills, as well as business writing skills. Of course include my wonderful classmates.  They are nice, helpful, patient, and a joy to be around. I learn from them every day. They offer their sincere help whenever I ask. I am more confident in the skills I have gained since arriving at the GSM.  Now I have the tools to create effective and thoughtful communication.

I would like to thank everybody who has helped me along the way: My roommates, my friends, GSM staff and faculty.

Blog by Elizabeth Liu – Class of 2016

Don’t be a Robot: A Practical Guide to the Personal Statement

UCD Ambassador

UCD Ambassador

One of the biggest opportunities to set yourself apart in the application process is the personal statement. After being out of school for a while the thought of writing an essay is groan inducing. Add on top of that the idea that you’re supposed to have your future perfectly mapped out with all the answers. In reality, if we all knew exactly what we wanted to be doing, and what we needed to get there, we would be doing it already. Instead, treat this section as a thought experiment and use the following guidelines to help you along the way.

A major component of the orientation program is creating a coherent story- an elevator pitch about yourself. The personal statement section is like a written version of your pitch. It should have a common thread that ties your past experiences (primarily the skills you’ve acquired along the way) to what you’re looking to do and how an MBA fits into it. The thread may not be obvious at first. Dig deeper to see what commonality the major career decisions you’ve made so far all share. Say you are trying to get into logistics but your experience is only in marketing. A thread may be that the reason you love marketing is understanding consumer needs/wants and finding the most efficient way to deliver them. You can carry over the skills of creating efficiency and understanding complex systems to logistics.

People get tripped up when they are trying to make a shift (either in their role or their industry) or if they aren’t sure what they want to get into. While you don’t need all the answers right away, the personal statement is a great opportunity to really sit down and start the work of narrowing it down. The more thought and effort you put into this statement the further ahead you will be in professional networking and internship hunting.

The best advice is to be realistic in your expectations for the future.  Nobody expects you to be the CFO of a Forture 500 company a year or two after getting your MBA. The statement is not the place for grandiose plans of world domination. Be practical and logical in developing a reasonable plan. As much as you can, be specific. Knowing the first role you want, or a niche in an industry you want to be working in, coming out of the program will help you shape the steps to get there. Finally, don’t be afraid to show your personality! This is the first opportunity you have to come to life and be more then an application number. Use it to show all of the interesting things you bring to the table as a person and not a robot reiterating their resume. Good luck and happy writing!

Blog by Karen Mesrobian – Class of 2016

New Year, New Ambassadors

UC Davis MBA Ambassador

As 2015 begins, I want to introduce myself as the new Director of the Ambassadors for the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. My team and I are excited to take the reins for the next year and are ready to represent the GSM to the next wave of applicants and future students.

I also want to take this opportunity to connect with those considering applying to attend the GSM. I welcome everyone looking to apply and am excited to meet everyone face to face when you come for class visits. I also want to challenge you to ask what business school is worth to you. A higher paycheck? A better career? A brighter future? The outcome is the goal, but shouldn’t the experience be a holistically beneficial one?

The GSM will give you the tools needed to take on the future of business dilemmas and solve management problems. However, what makes the GSM different, what sets it apart from the herd of Top Tier Business Schools, is its small, personal, and dedicated approach to every student’s experience and development. If admitted, you will know everyone in your class, every staff member, have access to every faculty member, and tailor an experience in your graduate education that is right for you. Every class has a diverse mix of students and career industries. No other school can offer the level of specified education at the same quality as the GSM. No other school can offer the personalized, warm, and welcoming atmosphere of the GSM.

That is what a MBA should be worth. That should be the goal of everyone’s business school experience. By reading this blog, you are already showing some nominal interest in applying. I’ve been in your place, trying to figure out which of the Best Schools was right for me. The deciding factor was that I wanted my 2 years in school to be as worthwhile and positive an experience as the career I was looking to enter. I chose the only school that could offer me the best future while allowing me to enjoy the journey. So, take the challenge, apply today.

Tips for Class Visiting—By Chris Darby

UC Davis MBA

As Student Ambassadors, we have the privilege of meeting prospective students interested in attending UC Davis Graduate School of Management.  Hosting visitors for class, sitting down for lunch, or just being available for answering questions has been a great way to connect with MBA hopefuls.

We welcome all prospective applicants to sit in on a class to get a feel for life at the GSM!  Here at the GSM we make sure to set each other up for success in our professional development, so if you’re thinking of applying, here are some tips for a successful class visit.

  • Relax, you’re in good hands! Every single one of us at the GSM have been in your shoes, and we all know how intimidating the application process can seem. Our team of Ambassadors want you to get a feel for the program, and class visits are a candid way to see things from the student perspective.  We’re interested in meeting you, we’re here to answer your questions, and we look forward to hearing your story!
  • Ask questions – it’s what we’re here for! If you’re wondering about details of the program, student life, or the application process, let us know!  We want you to have the clearest picture possible of what the student experience entails.  Ask us about professors, schedules, classwork, bicycles, or the hundreds of squirrels you see running around campus – it’s all good!  We want your first visit at the GSM to be as valuable as possible, so no detail is too small for us to talk about.  If we can’t answer a question, we’ll find the person who can.  It’s all about the network!
  • Tell us your story! The Student Ambassadors all love meeting new people, and students at the GSM come from diverse backgrounds.  We want to know yours!  What are your interests?  Where do you want to end up career-wise?  What skills do you have, and what do you want to learn?  This helps us know you, and all the better to figure out how the GSM can help you achieve your goals.
  • Tackle the visit with confidence! You’ll be meeting other students, professors, and faculty when you walk through our halls.  Say hello and start up conversations!  You never know who will be a valuable contact to have in the future.  A class visit is a great way to put your best foot forward into a place where highly motivated professionals are sitting right next to you.  If you’re thinking about an MBA, you’ll find yourself among like-minded people!
  • Stay in touch! We want to make sure that even after you finish your visit you feel comfortable reaching out to us.  Keep our contact information for that question that pops into your head three days later!

    UC Davis MBA

    UC Davis MBA

We’re looking forward to meeting you – see you soon!

Everyday I’m bustling—By Nishthaa #Guest Blogger Serie

UC Davis MBA

Nishthaa is a second-year MBA student at the UC Davis GSM full-time program. She also currently serves as a Product Management Intern at Syncplicity, EMC. She was a Medical Devices Engineer in her past life.

Linkedin: MyLinkedinProfile

Balancing a full time MBA workload and a part time job can be an overwhelming proposition. The challenge only deepens when the two commitments are located 100 miles apart. For me, the above arrangement has been both rewarding and challenging in equal measure.

The challenges I face are primarily in time management (heart and mind management), dealing with clashing schedules and tormenting deadlines. However, I’d like to elaborate on the rewards rather than belabor the tough parts. Below are the three most rewarding aspects of working and being in school full-time:

Reward #1: The ability to apply school to work, and work to school

This is very simple in concept, but profound in effect. Doing both simultaneously means that a greater depth and dimension gets added to your business knowledge. Correlations transform theory into stuff that works in the real world. You use frameworks learned in school to structure problems at work, and you get to bring reality from work to add color to class discussions. You talk to professors about industry trends and they take the analysis to another level. You bring that enhanced perspective at work place and raise the groupthink. It’s an added layer to my learning that I’m grateful for.

Reward #2: Safe place to huddle and cuddle with friends (no such thing at the workplace)

Also at the workplace, especially as an intern, judgment is everywhere. You have to keep your game face on—always. It’s therapeutic to have the ability to be among friends at school and discuss work. It is also great to compare notes and learn from their experiences. My classmates keep me honest.

Reward #3: Get help charting the hitherto uncharted dark waters of Corporate Politics

I have been in really confusing situations at work. I have gone straight to our school counselor, Inger Maher, who has patiently heard me out and given me gems like “Never reply to an angry email.” This was of course after I had replied to said angry email and was dealing with the repercussions. The point is Corporate America will throw Catch 22s at you and it really helps to have trained professionals on your team. They can be the lighthouse (yes I love my ship analogy) that guides you through toughies like salary negotiations, conflicting office politics, and how and when to ask for the raise.

While it can be overwhelming, this is the path that I signed up for because it works for me. Ironically, working helps me get more out of school even though it seemingly keeps me away. I am not necessarily a proponent of this specific path, however. I support maxing out your B-School experience in the way that works for you, with involvement in clubs, case competitions, classes and socializing. I’m just an example of the fact that it’s possible to do both. In the end, it does not matter how it is done, what matters is that it is, indeed, done.

UC Davis MBA

UC Davis MBA

The IMPACT of the Graduate School of Management  — By Wataru

UC Davis MBA --- IMPACT

For the past year and some change I have noticed a trend among my non business school friends.

They really have no clue what I’m learning.

Of course, they know that I’m in business school. And yes, they know I have taken marketing classes, engaged in numerous networking events, and attended entrepreneurship clinics but this does not resonate with them. While the confusion can be applied to many professions it shouldn’t be as difficult when this knowledge is fundamentally used across all industries and most roles. But I digress, the point of all this is that I believe it has become a little easier this quarter to explain what it is that actually do in school. I can tell them about my IMPACT assignment.

Our Integrated Management Project, Articulation and Critical Thinking (IMPACT) is a 20 week capstone project intended to apply the learnings from the GSM into real world scenarios. We are groups of 5 or 6 individuals with varying backgrounds and roles working as consultants for real world businesses addressing real world business problems or opportunities. If that seems like a lot to take in for a single sentence just imagine what us MBA candidates need to do for the actual projects!

Just like the real world we have little choice in our team members. Just like the real world our assignments are complex with wide scopes. Just like the real world this system is not perfect nor should it be. And finally just like the real world we as GSM students will work through obstacles and achieve/exceed our goals.

Now when I tell my friends that I’ve been working to size the market for stem cell therapeutics they understand this tangible deliverable. When I explain that I interview company executives to understand their strategic goals and pain points they have a clear understanding of my day to day actions. When I can say to them that I’ve formed connections with industry key opinion leaders they can understand the purpose for networking. All of this to say with real world examples my friends can finally relate to what I’ve learned in school so far and how all of it will be used in a business setting.

It’s either all of this or I’m just really bad at explaining conjoint analysis or partial F-tests for a multiple regression model.

My Exchange Experiences in UC Davis — by Ilari

UC Davis MBA--San Francisco

Ilari Lyytikäinen is a foreign exchange student from Finland studying at the GSM during fall quarter 2014. Back in Finland he is focusing on finance and business analytics as a second year master student at LUT. In his spare time he enjoys reading, running, traveling and meeting new people. Here goes his story in Davis:

Hi folks,

I am a 25-year-old Finnish student doing an exchange quarter at the Graduate School of Management in Davis, California.  I am writing this blog post to tell about my experiences in Davis so far, and how I have found the exchange in general.

This quarter in Davis has been amazing so far. I am definitely happy that I decided to go on exchange. I have experienced many great American things such as Halloween, Wal-mart as well as things that are typical for the California area only: In-n-Out, Lake Tahoe.

UC Davis MBA---San Francisco

UC Davis MBA—San Francisco

What were the main reasons I decided to go on exchange? Foreign exchange gives one a great chance to get to know a new country and make lifelong lasting connections. I think it is also interesting that you tend to look at things differently after returning to your home country because of your experiences in a foreign country. I have definitely got to explore more than I would have if I had just gone on a holiday in the US.

Davis is a good example of a college town. It fits the stereotype that I had in my mind of a traditional smaller college town: high ratio of students out of the whole population, lots of small bars and restaurants, and a relatively large campus.

I am happy that I have been able to explore California. Renting a car in the US is so easy and practical. Davis is also a great location in terms of travelling. It’s so easy to get to different places from there. I was quite surprised by how quickly the landscape changes around Davis.

The next big thing that I am looking forward to is Thanksgiving. I’ve heard that Thanksgiving is even more popular in the US than Christmas. It sounds a bit strange to me, since we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe as we do Christmas. Anyway, I am sure my understanding of Thanksgiving will change after next Thursday. Looking forward to the turkey!

UC Davis MBA--Exchange Students

UC Davis MBA–Exchange Students

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,

Ilari