Business Tax = Fun? | by Emily Smith

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Last year, a fellow student told me Business Taxation was hands-down the best class he’d taken at the GSM. I thought he was crazy. I knew the course was taught by a really well-liked professor, but couldn’t imagine the subject was that interesting. Business Tax sounds like a hard, dull subject and I couldn’t imagine why this student preferred this class to all of the interesting subjects taught be equally well-liked professors. Last quarter, a friend convinced me to try the course anyway (I could always drop it after the first class if I didn’t like it) and wow, am I glad she did!

Business Taxation was not at all what I expected! One of the first day of class, Professor Yetman made it very clear that this was not a course that would teach us how to design tax strategy for a corporation. This was a class to give us a high-level overview of corporate tax strategies, and to open our eyes and challenge our assumptions.

There are a number of homework assignments throughout the quarter, and each one is designed to tackle a specific popular assumptions about U.S. tax law. For example, do the 1% pay their fair share in taxes? This class will help you answer that question, and more. In addition, we also learned a few strategies for our own tax planning down the road. Have you ever considered setting up a charitable foundation? You will after this class!

All in all, I’m really glad I took this class. Professor Yetman is hilarious, energetic, and extremely knowledgeable, and this is really the only opportunity to take a class by him. I also learned a lot of really useful information that I’ll be able to put to practical use in the future. I now fully understand why that student last year told me this was his favorite class!

An Interview with Ambassador Christine | by Mackenzie

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Meet Christine Bolghand! Not only is she getting her MBA full time, Christine also is the Director of Ambassadors at the GSM, she is deeply involved in the Women in Leadership (WiL) club, and she even finds time to write and publish her own blog! I took a few minutes to ask Christine about her blog, Corporate Neon (check it out http://corporateneon.blogspot.com/) – and was fascinated with what I found!

Q: A lot of people don’t feel like they have enough time when studying for their MBA. What makes you spend your precious free time on your blog?

A: The simple answer is that I have a genuine interest in the business of fashion! Where many of my classmates spend their free time watching sports, I peruse a variety of blogs and news sources dedicated to the fashion industry and fashion trends. I find time for it because it makes me happy – that’s really all there is to it. That said, I definitely don’t update my own blog as regularly as I’d like to right now. Part of the reason being that I’m still thinking about what I want to do with it! My goal for the next year is to develop the blog more.

Q: What made you want to start a blog?

A: There were two reasons. The first was that I didn’t find any other blogs about the MBA experience from a fashion-conscious point of view when I was going through the application process. This bothered me on a purely practical level, in that I wanted to know what to wear to interviews while remaining true to my own identity. A lot of the advice out there was so conservative. I was searching for an honest voice out there from someone I could relate to – and didn’t find one. I hope to develop my blog to help others in my situation. The other reason was that I wanted to make sure I’d have a space to focus on my passion while in school—I didn’t want to lose that creative part of myself in all the spreadsheets and analysis! It’s been a great outlet so far for me fashion-specific thoughts on the MBA process.

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Q: What are some of your favorite fashion blogs / industry sites?

A: I love love love Garance Dore and The Business of Fashion. I also enjoy Women’s Wear Daily and I can’t live without Vogue.com during fashion week.

Thanks Christine for taking your time to share your overlapped passion for business and fashion! Check out Christine’s blog http://corporateneon.blogspot.com/ and her post: “Why I Love Marketing” http://corporateneon.blogspot.com/2013/11/why-i-love-marketing.html. Thanks for reading!

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Davis Diversity: International Students at the GSM by Yoyo

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International Students

UC Davis is full of international faces, and students and faculty at GSM are all accommodating to diversity. This open atmosphere is why international students at GSM are very active and never hesitate to take on leadership roles. As an example of someone who jumped at the chance to be a leader in the club community, I am proud to see how many GSM students are ready to participate and make a big difference in this respect.

Take our second-year class as example. Of the forty-seven daytime students, seventeen were not born in the United States, and nine have taken leadership roles in all kinds of clubs and organizations. Just to name some, international students can be found active and making impressive difference in the leadership of Ambassadors, WiL Club (all board members), Big Bang Committee, C4C, Finance Club, and the International Liaison position of our student government.  All of these clubs have an amazing amount of support at events from international students as well. One common attribute of these international leaders is self-esteem, no matter where they are. We are not afraid of potential conflicts among cultures – we instead aim to learn from people’s different experiences and cultural norms, which research has found results in higher productivity in a multicultural environment. We prove this true everyday at the GSM.

(Left to Right) Onyeka Enwerem, Vice President and Director of Finance; Yoyo Wu, President of WiL; Kanupriya Verma, Director of Marketing

(Left to Right) Onyeka Enwerem, Vice President and Director of Finance; Yoyo Wu, President of WiL; Kanupriya Verma, Director of Marketing

I used to hear from my friends who were already in business schools that often they found themselves completing group assignments and communicating only with a small group of students from their home country. I used to hear from class visitors from other countries worries about English not being his or her native language. However, I find myself consistently inspired by the diversity and intelligence of students and faculty from all around the world. I am motivated by their new ideas and fresh innovation. I am proud of my American classmates who always encourage and welcome international student to be involved and create change in all that we do. While I realize that the biggest barrier for international students is language, emphasizing that fact and letting it hold you back is something that can be avoided if you focus on the helpful and unified community surrounding you.

Over over 2012 to 2014, Indian students organized two fun and successful Diwali Nights, and Chinese students presented the most delicious food in the world: dumplings and hot pot at the Chinese New Year BBQ last year (another one coming in February this year!). GSM is a lovely earth village accommodating all of us.

Dive into the GSM group. Feel the GSM community. Have a wonderful experience. This is who we are: the international students of the GSM.

WiL! What’s up in Winter? | by Yoyo

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Happy New Year! What is your New Year’s resolution? For most MBA students, new success in career development must be one of wishes in new year. This quarter, Women in Leadership Club has prepared two amazing events to help our students pursue this important goal. Now let me walk you through our plans:

We have the honor to invite a successful business leader, scientist, and entrepreneur Marylee Guinon to come to GSM on January 21st. She is an amazing small business owner, successful entrepreneur, super star sustainability/environmental consultant and expert; and she is also an incredible woman in her personal life, a great friend, sister, and mother. She has been leading phenomenal workshops on Effective Project Management & Leadership Enhancement at Cal and some other places for over two decades. This time, she is coming to set up career development workshop with students. Four groups with different concentrations (Finance, Marketing, etc.), with each group create (1) an idea resume of Skills Abilities and Knowledge (ASK) and (2) focus on Wisdom that an ideal reference or colleagues would use to describe them.

Last year, the WiL board invented and introduced Speed Mentoring (as inspired by Speed Dating) to the GSM community. Last year we organized the first Speed Mentoring successfully, and are looking forward to another successful iteration in February 2014. We will invite some second-year students and Career Development staff to be mentors, helping first-year students practice 2-minute elevator pitches in a mock career fair environment. Timing of this event is important, right before the Winter Quarter Career Fair held in San Ramon. So it will be the best warm-up before students go out to talk to recruiters in career fair!

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Let’s get the party started. Wish you a prosperous 2014 in career development!

Thank You Notes Aren’t So Old Fashioned After All | by Mackenzie

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As a child, I loved Christmas. It wasn’t about all the wrapping paper and ribbons and new gifts strewn about the floor. But it was that glorious moment when my mom and I gathered and handpicked beautiful thank you cards from her stationary cabinet. Ok, I know I’m a little abnormal, but I truly loved the joy I got from drawing her fancy pen across the page, thanking my grand-mum/aunt/uncle/fifth-cousin-once-removed for the thoughtful present. I loved closing the envelope, pressing the stamp down in the upper right hand corner, and dropping it into the chasms of the street-side mailbox.

Little did I know my strange obsession with saying thanks would help me all the way through business school. Some people might think sending a thank you is old fashioned, but in a day of constant emails, online chat windows, and post-it note memos stuck to computer screens, people truly appreciate the thought that goes into a hand-written thank you card. I know, three of my interviewers called me back personally to thank me for the thoughtful cards. (All three also offered me internships!)

So plan ahead. When you head to an interview, get a nice professional thank you card ready. Interviewer name and address are easy enough (even pre-stamp so you can drop in in the mail right after you write it). Now pay attention in the interview to the person you’re talking with. This will help you write a more sincere thank you. And it is similar to thanking someone for a gift at the holidays. The gift they are giving you is their time and the opportunity to be considered for the job/internship you are interviewing for. Follow these five easy steps to a sincere, thoughtful thank you card:

1. Thank the person for the gift. In the case of a post-interview thank you card, thank them for their time and consideration.

2. Describe what you will use the gift for a why you are especially grateful for it. Here, mention a couple of characteristics you discussed about the job and emphasize or repeat why you are an especially good fit for the position. This can be a key moment to bring up a small point you feel you didn’t hit home. (It is too late to bring up big points you missed… the interview is over.)

3. Make a reference to a recent or upcoming event in the person’s life. Did you talk about his/her daughter recently applying to colleges? Did you discuss of hand his/her upcoming trip to Belize? Mention it and wish him/her well! This shows you listened to them even when it wasn’t all business details.

4. Mention something positive that is going on in your life. Whether you are excited for graduation in June 2014 or thinking of heading up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend, share something about yourself that is relatable and likable. Remember: people want to work with people they like.

5. Thanking the person again and telling them you hope to see them soon. Finish with a final thank you and reference next steps or hearing from them soon. This can help speed up an agreed upon time table or help keep you at the front of their minds when making final decisions.

Obviously, even the most expensive Hallmark card on the shelf is not going to secure the job (especially if you did not prepare for the interview), but it can tilt the scales in your favor. Again, remember people want to work with someone they like – but in light of the pile of 150+ resumes of eager, likable people sitting on their desk – they also want to hire someone they can remember, someone that stands out. So go ahead, give it a try. Give yourself a fighting chance, donate 35 cents to the good ol’ U.S. Postal Service, and send a thank you card!

(Also, sending a thank you at the end of an internship can put you in good graces with your boss and possibly translate into a job!)

And……..WE’RE BACK! | by Mackenzie

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Like we never left – the Ambassadors are back from Winter Vacation, more relaxed, more exited, and better than ever! Have something you’d like to read about that we aren’t writing about? Please reach out to our Twitter @DavisAmbassador and let us know what topics, stories, and secrets of business school YOU would like to hear about! We are here to let you know what you want to know more about!

(And our computer is having an intervention with us…)

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WINTER BREAK! | by Mackenzie

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Thank you wonderful readers for your interest in our blog. We will be on vacation through the New Year and will publishing a few blogs about our winter break adventures if we can, but cannot wait to see you in again in 2014! Don’t miss us too much; we’ll be back – promise!

Thank you for reading and have a Happy New Year!

Fall Quarter Lessons: We Were Accepted for a Reason | by Rachel

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Our first quarter as MBA students is coming to a close. Looking back at some of my concerns before starting the program, it’s crazy to think how much I’ve changed in only 10 short weeks.

  1. Getting back into the groove. It’s been more than five years since I was a full-time student. I was very studious in college, and had no problem pulling all-nighters to get my work done. I wasn’t sure if I still had the attention span or stamina to handle being a student again. Believe me, the first three weeks were tough. There may have been moments when I asked myself why in the world I decided to do this. But I’m amazed by how quickly I fell back into the study routine. And it helps to have the support of 49 other classmates who are all in the same boat.
  2. Core class concerns. Having been a marketing major in college, I had already taken most of our core classes like financial accounting, microeconomics, and statistics. They weren’t my favorite classes then, and I dreaded having to take them again. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, even though the classes are taught assuming no former knowledge of the subjects, they are taught at a much higher level with a focus on strategic thinking and relevant, real-world situations. The teachers were engaging and, in fact, the classes that I hated as an undergrad became my favorites this quarter.
  3. Worried about being the weak link. When I first met all of my new classmates at orientation, I was so impressed with everyone’s background and work experience. I became convinced that my experiences weren’t nearly as impressive, and I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I learned quickly that we all had those same fears. We each have a unique set of skills to bring to the table. It’s been really interesting getting to know my classmates and their individual talents this past quarter.
  4. Lack of confidence. This sort of goes along with number 3 and yet I choose to elaborate anyway. Before starting at the GSM, I had zero confidence, especially when it came to interviewing. After working with the Career Development Team, the Marketing Association (which runs an incredible interview workshop to prepare us for the internship and job hunt), and my classmates, I’ve learned a lot of great interviewing techniques to highlight my strengths and experiences. I have a long way to go, but I feel great knowing I’m the right path.

The truth is, being back at school has been exciting, challenging, and fun, in all the ways I didn’t expect it to be at the beginning of the quarter. My advice for prospective classmates: go into your classes with an open mind, be confident in your abilities (I mean, you were accepted for a reason!), and enjoy your time here. It’s already flying by so fast!

Fall Down 10 Times, Get Up 11 | by Sasikanth

The Good Stuff

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Like many of us, I had been waiting for this day for eternity. I couldn’t avoid having many feelings at the same time. I felt happy because finally my dream of attending an MBA Program was a reality. I was very proud of myself because being here is the result of a lot of hard work and perseverance. I felt nervous because this phase of my career is supposed to be a game changer! I felt sad because I am having one of the most important experiences in my life so far away from my wife and my 8 month old son.

I have always imagined the classroom, the classmates, and lectures and in general all things related to attending an MBA Program. But what greeted me on the first day of my MBA program was plain CHAOS!

The international student orientation was expected to be a low key introductory affair. I was expecting no more than some keynote speeches and some handshakes. But the first thing I had to do was to present my Elevator Pitch in front of amazingly talented people, trying to make sense of my career and accomplishments. That was one heck of a challenge (which I am convinced I did not tackle well!).

The most horrifying part of it was how I was talking about my “Outstanding” communication skills in a manner that would have made my English teacher depressed! I just did not understand why there was a knot in my throat that was not allowing me to communicate freely. I thought sadly, “I am not really as good as I thought I was.”

The next session was from Rikin Vasani, the dynamic big buck consultant turned actor who worked for the likes of McKinsey, Bain and BCG, and now a freelance career counselor. It was his session that made me realize that maybe I am not made for an International MBA program. He made us realize that it’s not how much you have accomplished that matters, but how much you can articulate the same. All that matters is how effectively you can sell yourself. My paltry attempt at selling myself in front of my smart class fell on its face and even I would not have hired myself!

The next session was the “Two Hour Job Search” with Steve Dalton, a pioneer in the job searching field. He made us realize that how little we know about our future job prospects in the US. He drove home the point that we are not here to get a job but to build a career and that needs a lot of introspection and focus, both of which I lacked at that point.

By the time the orientation on the first day ended, I have decided that if the college refunds my tuition, I will happily head back to India. I literally cried myself to sleep. It was just insanity and chaos that were the order of the day. And I still had 6 full days of trolling in front of me.

That is when I understood what surviving in the B school really is about. This environment tests the mettle of every single person and one who is resilient will come out on top and others will succumb to the pressure. The constant challenges and our ability to tackle them is what defines our path at an MBA program. The moment you start to doubt your abilities, you are not only losing your fight but you are killing the chance to become a better version of yourself.

This is where your second year MBA student group comes in handy. It is the hours of discussions with our seniors that reassured me that I can handle such situations. This is one aspect of the MBA program that is generally underrated. The true nature of its importance can only be experienced; it cannot be explained. The way our seniors walked us through the pitfalls and misconceptions helped us a lot in prioritizing our goals and channelizing our energies towards those goals.

Another critical aspect that helped me come to terms with the challenges is the amazing bond that we as a class share. Our Class is such a beautiful blend of diverse cultures and experiences that every day you feel you are going up the learning curve. The learning that happens outside the class is amazing and is such a fresh change that everyone would appreciate. It feels good to know that there is no competition but only collaboration and every single day of your time at GSM will make you a better person. This to me is the most practical form of learning I can ever imagine. I can not help but think how an MBA should be a four year program rather than a two year one.  (Of course without the increased tuition! )

New Perspectives: Interview with a First Year Ambassador | by Jason

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Jason: It has been months since you joined GSM. How do you like the school so far?

Sasikanth: The last two months have been very captivating and challenging. When we joined GSM a couple of months ago, everybody kept saying time will fly. And sure it did. A couple of months ago I was part of international student orientation trying to discover things about GSM and now I am in an Ambassador team helping out people with answers!! It’s insane!!!

Jason: Is everything within your expectations? If not, what did you not expect?

Sasikanth: My biggest expectation from an International MBA was to get the maximum benefit from the graduating class and I feel everything here exceeds my expectation. Be it the level of relevance the curriculum has to the real world business problems or the quality of the study group, or be it the faculty it’s all super exciting.

The unexpected thing for me here is how everybody in the GSM is so aligned to their respective career goals. It does not feel like what they do in the class is not different from what they are looking for in their careers.

Another surprising thing is the amount of effort that the career development team puts across. It’s Unbelievable!!

Jason: How do you feel about the class? Is it what you imagine before coming here?

Sasikanth: Although I did not expect that the curriculum to be entirely didactic, I never thought that there would be this much relevance to real world requirements of a business education. The class simulates a real world environment where people from diverse fields analyze and solve business cases. All the various perspectives put forth by these people make you feel that you are in a place where there is more to learn from every one of them.

Another amazing fact about the class is that you will not find anyone who is similar to you as far as education and industry experience is concerned. There is only one form of competition in the class: “Who will learn more from others”

Jason: What’s your favorite part of the school?

Sasikanth: My favorite part of the school is definitely GSM Connections. All first-year and second-year students meet every Monday to discuss something or the other. Be it about what courses one liked or not, be it some career advice or even some tips about the most happening places in Davis!!! . This practice is very meaningful. And the food is always an added attraction!!!

Jason I know this is first time you have lived in the US. Anything  interesting?

Sasikanth: This is my first time in US but being in a place like California, (mainly Davis) which is a meeting point of so many cultures and traditions, it feels like home. The climate is amazing and the people are warm. I think I am in the right place at the right time!!

Jason: You are now an MBA ambassador.  What role do you take on the team? Why that role?

Sasikanth: I chose the role of International Student Leader and will be part of a team that will be the first point of contact for all prospective International students. We work closely and try to answer all their queries and getting them to know the tradition and other important aspect of GSM. We also interface with the SISS (Services for International students and scholars) and try to get them to answer some important questions related to settling down in the US and GSM in particular.

Jason: Anything you want to share with other prospective students?

Sasikanth: I know the process of selecting an MBA school is daunting for many of us, but if we have specific priorities and expectations then it becomes a lot easier. The best form for prospective student to get information will be through direct contact with the school. Talking to alumni or current students will give them a real insight into what the school expects from them. This is very important before choosing a B-School.

Once you are in the B-school, it helps a lot if we have a clear picture of what we do. We have so many resources and options here, that if you do not know your priorities we will easily digress. We need to identify at least one area that we are interested in and one area that will be meaningful given our previous work experience. This will allow us to strike a right balance our own expectations and the prospective employer’s expectation.