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!

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.

How to Prepare for an MBA Admissions Interview–By Siamac

Applying to business school can be challenging. It’s an introspective process that requires you to not only understand what your goals are, but to clearly and concisely articulate them as well. The following is a list of tips aimed to help you succeed with your interview:
1) Have a plan
Let’s be honest, you may not know what you want to do after business school yet. But that shouldn’t prevent you from coming up with a plan. Whether you’re committed to it or not, prepare to describe a well-thought plan that shows the interviewer your ability to get a job. You’re partly being evaluated on how marketable you can be in front of employers. The interviewer wants to know if you can effectively connect your past experiences and current interests to the types of jobs you’re looking for.
2) Frame your answers as stories
Most business school interviewers prefer if you structure your responses in the STAR(or CAR) format. Always start with a brief description of the situation you’re talking about. State what the core problem was, followed by a thorough and logical description of the actions you took to solve the problem. Finish the response with measurable results and ideally long-term learnings you took from the situation. With enough practice, you should be able to use the STAR format seamlessly and come off as telling compelling stories.
3) Always close
Close the interview after you ask questions by summarizing your interests in the program. This is the perfect time to include points that haven’t been covered in the interview so far. If you were expecting to talk about your strengths and never had a chance to do so, mention them. If there’s something about you that differentiates yourself from the rest of the applicant pool, show it off. This is your best opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. Close the interview!

All About the Balance—By Erin

The first quarter of our first year at the GSM is behind us.  And thank goodness!  It was a struggle to remember what it was like to be a student, and even more of a struggle to fight that persistent desire to procrastinate.  Watching football is a good use of my time, right?  Well, yes… and that is what I had to learn.  Balance.


The GSM is based on the IMPACT curriculum: we have designated core classes, take electives of our choice to round out our concentrations, and culminate with our IMPACT project.  IMPACT, or Integrated Management Project and Articulation and Critical Thinking, is an opportunity to bring our collective business skills and knowledge to work on 20-week team projects for partner companies.  As such, the first quarter is all about building our foundation.  Learning to walk before we run.  Training wheels.  Baby steps.  Choose whichever metaphor resonates best. 


We took 4 core classes: Microeconomics, Articulation and Critical Thinking, Statistics, and Financial Accounting.  All expected MBA-types of classes, I dove in with varying levels of preparedness… and varying degrees of success.  There were definitely times I made it through a week – going to class, club meetings, homework, group work, study sessions, and (ok, stupidly!) trying to date someone – by the skin of my teeth.  It was definitely a practice in humility, admitting I don’t have all of the right answers.  Or sometimes just choosing my battles and letting “pretty good” be good enough.  Figuring out, as a former engineer, there really is something to this business thing, and it is a heck of a lot harder than I ever gave it credit for.


So 11 weeks and a Winter Break’s reflection under my belt, and here it is: balance.  Grind it out and get your stuff done, yes.  That procrastination thing really isn’t helping anyone.  But do the yoga, go wine tasting in Napa, run that half-marathon you signed up for three months ago (when it sounded like a much better idea), meet up with classmates for a drink after class, and, yes, watch football.




WiL. I AM by Yoyo Wu

(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

If you are a fan of the Black Eye Peas or, please don’t be disappointed that I am not highlighting your musical idol or think I made a typo. That being said, I am glad to introduce to you the WiL in GSM: the Women in Leadership Club.

WiL club is one of the smallest clubs operated through the Associated Students of Management (ASM), but also one of the clubs with the longest reach. Why? Because our goal is to effect and enhance the experience of every woman and everyone who works or will someday work with a woman. Our mission is to serve UC Davis Daytime MBA students and alumni through professional and social activities geared towards the development of future women business leaders.

WiL club is active in organizing activities to bring in benefits to future women business leaders. For example, we have a tradition of great activities like the annual “Mock-Tails with the Dean” during every fall quarter, providing an opportunity to all students to communicate with Dean Currall face-to-face. We also work to sponsor students to attend the annual Women in Leadership Conference in Haas, UC Berkeley. Lastly, we innovate new activities such as “Speed Mentoring”, inspired by Speed Dating, which connects second-year and first-year students in one-on-one mentoring sessions sharing interview skills and lessons.

This year’s board of WiL club comes from very diverse backgrounds. I, Yoyo, am the WiL President. I am a Chinese student with 5-years of auditing experience and the proud mother with a 15-month little girl. I realize the subtle balance women in business have to maintain as they have more social identities to handle, that was why I decided to lead the WiL club and try to help women leaders find out the balance to ensure success both in career and family life. Onyeka, our Vice President and Director of Finance, is from Nigeria where she worked as an engineer. She is very versatile, just to name some of her many talents: dancing, photo-shopping, and engineering. Kanu, our Director of Marketing, is from India and was also a mechanical engineer before she came to GSM. She plans to pursue marketing, using her instincts and skills to help WiL club with innovation and new ideas.

In our nearest upcoming event, WiL club will introduce some successful business women leaders to GSM students, sharing stories of their successes and failures. Then, WiL club will co-host another guest speaker event with Entrepreneurship and Innovation Society club. Looking forward to those exciting and inspiring events in May!

Key Advice on the GMAT: Opening the Door To B-School

Jason GMAT Logo

For B-school applications, taking GMAT is most people’s first step. Most applicants and admissions committees regard the score of this computer-based standardized test as one of the most important parts of a strong application. Today, I want to share some tips for preparing the test.

1. Set up a study plan before you get started

You always need to be clear who your opponent is before you are on the battle field. If there is already a dream school in your mind, go to that school’s website and find out what’s the average GMAT score for the current class. That’s the goal you need to meet. It also tells you how much time you need to spend in the preparation. You should know what your strengths and weaknesses are and allocate time smartly on studying for each section. After working on some sample questions, you can better know yourself in the exam. Set the daily, weekly and monthly plan with a clear goal, like how many tests you should finish and what is accuracy rate of your answer.

2. Read the official guide to understand the test well

There are tons of resources available for you. There’s no way to get all of them (and that’s not necessary). So you need to decide which ones are the most valuable to you. Whatever book you buy, never miss the GMAT’s own official guide, the only book on the market written by the creators of the GMAT exam. You can find past exam questions with detailed explanation.  Even if you get the right answer, it is still good for you to read the explanation to understand the thoughts of test creators.

Jason study Blog Post

3. Know how to manage your time

Most MBA applicants are working professionals, meaning studying all week long might not be possible. Spending right amount of time is the key and devoting more time doesn’t prove that you can get higher score. After I beginning my MBA in Davis, I have found my studying mode is similar as when I prepared for my GMAT. Working with different groups for different courses, searching for an internship, working as an Ambassador-the MBA life is about multitasking all the time. You need to keep on focused when handling each task, and move to the next after one gets done. Same rule applies to the GMAT preparation. It is tough, but it gets you ready for the more tough MBA life.

4. Practice, practice and practice

Practice cannot be emphasized enough. No advanced skill is needed in the test but practice smartly. Both quantity and quality are important. Time yourself when answering each question because spending too much time to get a right answer is no different from getting it wrong. Only solving the problem right and quick can give you a decent score.

Jason notes Blog Post

Hope these tips are helpful. Good luck!


Great Panel Questions

I’ve had the great pleasure of being a panel speaker at Preview Day events for prospective and incoming students. It was only two years ago I was sitting in those seats! Now that I’m on the other side, I’m very happy to share what I know, offer advice and meet people interested in the program. Here, I’d like to share some of the (imho) best questions I’ve been asked in the hopes they’ll help others.

Q1. Has the Davis program’s size ever hindered your opportunities?
A1. Nope! The small size allows us to really get to know the administration, faculty and each other. The benefits of this are huge because the school is incredibly responsive to our needs; the faculty help their students with advice, research projects and networking; and it makes group work that much more enjoyable (b/c we actually know each other!). Also, we might be small but we’re able to take advantage of the resources of UC Davis as a whole. Additionally, I’ve personally attended many networking events and made friends in the Bay Area thanks to the Net Impact club.

Q2. Why did you pick the GSM over other programs?
A2. I knew I wanted to return to the Bay Area after graduation, and the GSM has a strong alumni network in the area. I’m also interested in an environmental/socially focused career and feel that Northern California has some of the best organizations and opportunities for me. For me, it was also important to join a small program b/c my undergrad was huge and I really wanted a personal experience (personally, I don’t consider a class size of 800 small). And finally, the City of Davis fits my lifestyle: I can bike, go to a great farmer’s market, and live in a safe community.

Q3. What is your biggest gripe about the program?
A3. Lucky for you, my biggest gripe is something you’ll never have to know! The GSM is moving into a beautiful new building next year that will be LEED certified. Our current building isn’t as awesome.

One more thing! Yes, clearly I am a fan of the program, but the best thing you (you prospective student, you) can do is visit each school you apply to and find the one that ‘fits.’ Every school says they’re the nicest and the best, and they’re all right in their own way.