My experience at UC Davis Graduate School of Management

ruchi_bali_2

I was recently asked this question by a prospective student “how has your experience been so far at UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM)?”

As a student Ambassador for UC Davis, I have been asked this question many times. So I thought of writing about it. Well, one of the things that you need to remember about a quarter system is that time just flies. I was warned about it when I enrolled into the program but only just realized its pace when I am in the middle of the third quarter. My experience so far has been absolutely remarkable and some of the things that have contributed to this are:

My fellow GSM students: Even before I applied to the MBA program, I had the opportunity to interact with students and alumni from UC Davis GSM. It was through these interactions that I learnt about the sense of community and the collaborative culture that exists at GSM. However, experiencing it was something else…it is like being a part of the family where everyone is keen to help you succeed in your goals. Peers at the GSM have been generous with their time and support. I have been on late night Skype calls trying to understand difficult topics before an exam, practicing for interviews over lunch breaks as well as spent countless hours in discussion about the question on every MBAs mind … what’s next? It has been a privilege to be able to both accept and offer support within such a close community.

 World-class faculty:  The Graduate School of Management’s faculty quality is ranked No. 15 globally as per The Economist, 2014 ranking of Full-time MBAs. The professors are not only experts in their field but they are also committed to helping us excel in our career paths. They are always available to provide extra help with understanding difficult topics and encourage in-class interactions to make it a great learning experience for all of us.   My experience of interacting with them and learning from them has been amazing.

 Clubs and activities: The campus is always abuzz with activities, events and workshops. There are student club led activities such as monthly barbeques, peer workshops and celebrations as well as networking mixers, career fairs, speaker series and other professional workshops. There are numerous opportunities available to the students at GSM for personal and professional development.

 Career Development team: The career development team at GSM is committed to helping the students land their dream jobs and internships. Chris Ditto and Elizabeth Moon are always there to encourage students, offer advice and address any issues that we may have regarding our career paths. They helped us prepare and rehearse our elevator pitches, write resume and cover letters, tackle case interviews and build and improve our LinkedIn profiles. And all these things happened even before we started school…yes you heard it right… before school started! The career management team also held workshops for international students on communication and networking in the United States.  Being an international student, these were particularly helpful to me.

At GSM, a small class size implies that everyone knows everyone, and every single person at the school is there to help us become all that we can be.  Because that is what business school is, an opportunity to find and develop the best version of you. I feel privileged to be a part of this culture at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Blogpost by Ruchi Bali – Class of 2016

Statistics for Life

One of the most common questions I get about the GSM from prospective students is ‘What are the Professors like?’ My first response is that I don’t have a clue since I don’t go to class. (Just kidding guys, Stay In School Kids!) The real answer I actually give to those unable to escape my very long tirade, including those of you reading here, involve a certain Math Professor here at the GSM. Meet Professor Chih-Ling Tsai.


Prof Tsai

Professor Tsai teaches the much esteemed Statistics 203B, or Stats 2/Stats Too!/Stats Dos for short. This is an elective available to students during the winter quarter and is a continuation of building skills learned on statistical modelling. Professor Tsai himself is a very energetic old gentleman who emphasizes that he is not here to teach statistics and is instead here to teach you about life. If you think that that makes absolutely no sense, you are most certainly in the same boat as I was in the beginning of the quarter. But that’s before I got to know the guy. Professor Tsai enjoys practicing Tai Chi in the mornings and will often teach his students when they are stressed out. He’s always happy to meet with students in his office and to lend out his vast library of books across all sorts of intellectual genres. And during class times, there is always a story to be shared about how statistics can relate to life whether personally or professionally.

My own experience was an interesting one. First of all, I was out of the country over break and missed the first class. I also showed up to class 5 minutes late for the second one. Dr. Tsai did not approve. He enthusiastically explained that my slacking ways would not pay off in life and that I must put effort into every aspect of school and work. Fast forward to the first group homework and below is an actual picture of me:

Li

Needless to say, I started off on the wrong foot. However, by going to class (on time) and seeing the Professor’s enthusiasm, I decided to put the effort in for the course. I went to office hours almost every week and rallied my teammates to collaborate on the homework assignments. I was able to manage my time and put my best foot forward. I ended up with an A- in the class which I had never thought I would achieve considering how awful I am at math. This just goes to show that passionate teachers inspire students to be passionate about the subject.

Blogpost by Li Meng (Class of 2016)

 

 

So You’ve Been Accepted…Now What?:

karen_mesrobian_-_997863525_-_smba_0

First and foremost, congratulations are in order. You’ve been granted the opportunity to earn a degree only 2% of the population holds. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that many of you will also be getting your first summer vacation in years.

Taking time off between working and starting business school is a great way to reintegrate yourself to the student mindset. The prospect of having 4 classes with one lecture a week may make b-school seem like an extended vacation. While the daily grind of a 9-5 or an insane 80-hour work week may be on hold for the next two years, don’t let your new schedule fool you. While deceptively bare on the calendar, your days WILL fill up fast. Group meetings for assignments, the internship hunt, networking events, involvement in clubs, and general life will take over. Soon you’ll be wondering where all that free time you thought you would have went. So before you get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of school life, take some time to get a jump-start (or refresher if it’s been awhile) over the summer.

I know I said summer was for that vacation you’ve been putting off for years, and it is. Take trips, catch up with old friends, spend time with your family, and refresh yourself from being burned out by work. These are the most important things you can do to get your mind fresh for the next chapter. However, there are a few side tasks that are easier to get under your belt before you start school. Below is some advice I wish I had before coming back as student2.0.

  1. Get acquainted with excel! Being comfortable working with hundreds of rows of data will save you hours down the road. This includes everything from the basic shortcuts (like highlighting up to the last cell of data without the entire column), to slightly more advanced equation rules (like when to use ($) in formulas).
  2. Get your LinkedIn page up to speed. Before you get to school update your profile to include your candidacy. This will help you find alumni connections, set up informational interviews, and start the internship hunt. Getting your internship locked in as soon as possible will save you untold amounts of stress. Do not wait to start reaching out and creating those relationships.
  3. Refresh your statistics acumen. You don’t need to take a whole summer course, but do make a conscious effort to re-learn what a p-value is from your freshman year of college (or maybe high school for some of you). The basics of statistics will pop up in a variety of classes, from marketing to operations, and you won’t want to spend hours on Google trying to re-learn it just to finish your homework.
  4. Devote time just for thinking. You already wrote your application essay that most likely asked your future goals. And you most likely danced around and threw in a bunch of jargon-of-the-day verbiage to sound like you had it figured out. We all know you don’t. And that’s ok; the good news is you’re in! Now you have some time to actually sit down and figure out what that roadmap is to your dream job. Don’t just identify what company you want to work for and go back to sitting by the pool. Really figure out what types of tasks motivate you, what roles you enjoy being in, what skills you have that cover multiple positions and across industries. This may sound like fluff, but the basis of these conversations with yourself will come up in the job search, networking, and, most importantly, interviews. So sit down and come up with some actual answers…and the great news is you can do this at the pool.

Blog by Karen Mesrobian – Class of 2016

Most wonderful time of the year

UC Davis MBA Ambassador

The halls of the GSM are filled with a nervous excitement as the internship-hunting season is in full swing. With some classmates getting positions early at Intel, Wells Fargo, and other great companies, the bulk of internship interviews and hiring are happening as I write this. So, the question that is on the forefront of the mind of every future intern is, “How do I get the right internship for me?”

Excellent question, young padawan. First and foremost, figure out what sector you are looking to get experience and what role in that sector fits your skills, likes, desires, etc. Not every internship is right for everyone, and the worst thing someone can do is to accept an internship that is totally outside what you know you want to do (Example: Don’t go into Investment Banking if you want to be in tech marketing.) Next, leverage your networks, from everyone to prior coworkers and family friends to GSM Alumni and the Career Development team at the GSM. The key to getting an internship that makes you excited falls into two categories: Getting the Interview and Crushing the Interview. Your resumes, connections, that alignment of the stars, all work to get you in the door. Crushing that interview is on you. Be the best, most polished, likeable, and intelligent version of yourself you can be. Dress for success. Basically, do what the Career Development team tells you to do at an interview. (The GSM has great training and prep opportunities for students.)

Some subtle keys to success fall in that murky area between your ears. Trust yourself; know that you belong with the top-level companies in the best positions. Don’t let others talking about their success intimidate or stress you. As the saying goes around here: Everyone who wants an internship gets one. All good things in their own time. Internships are like playing house. They are for trying out a role that you think you will like, mostly to give yourself some perspective for that looming career decision after graduation. Happy hunting, future interns. You are going to crush it.

Blog by Jim Terheyden – Class of 2016

Imagining the school as your company

1604906_10151969598647956_1325355267_n

One of the most awesome things about UC Davis is that the school identity is literally what you make of it.  We have roughly 50 people in each of our graduating classes, each with different goals, interests, skills, and talents.  In our school, we’ve been given a blank slate to play with – a sandbox where your experience is what you make of it, and you can find fit yourself into the broader picture however you like.

I encourage our new applicants to consider what kinds of things you like to do in a professional organization before you start class.  Are you outward-facing?  Do you lead teams through breadth of knowledge or do you prefer to be the resident subject-matter-expert?  What is one thing that you wish you could practice?

With these answers, seek out opportunities in school to explore your professional development.  Try your hand at handling a marketing campaign.  Make organizational processes more efficient.  Find outside partnerships and negotiate deal terms.  If you view the school as the company you work for, the effort will directly translate into real-world experience.  Your internship or full-time job interview will be a snap – “practiced initiative” is music to a recruiter’s ears.

The most rewarding part about this attitude is that the work you put into the school – in addition to training you for success – leaves the organization in better shape than you found it.  You’re paying your whole alumni network back by making our school even better than before.

We appreciate it, and you will too.

Blog by Chris Darbyshire – Class of 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Blog by Christine

As a student Ambassador in my second year of b-school, I get asked a lot of questions. From responding to email inquiries from around the world, to hosting the casual visitor during class, to having lunch with nervous prospective students right before their big interviews with Earl, I can safely say I’ve heard it all.

As such, I’ll try to answer some FAQs for anyone considering the UC Davis Graduate School of Management as their future home. Below are my personal answers to the most common questions we get asked by visiting students:

 Why did you choose UC Davis?

I personally chose UC Davis for a number of reasons. The biggest one was cultural fit. I knew immediately after visiting the GSM that its inviting, collaborative atmosphere would be conducive to my learning and development. Everyone I met was so friendly and open to my questions. I had an immediate sense of belonging that I didn’t get from visiting other campuses. My advice to others is to visit the schools you are interested in and see what feels right for you. (Check out this blog post by Chris for tips on getting the most out of your visit to the GSM.)

I also chose the GSM due to its vicinity to the Bay Area. My area of professional interest is in e-commerce, so being close to San Francisco and Silicon Valley was critical for me. My family is also based out of the Bay Area, so that was also a major factor in my decision.

How diverse is the GSM?

A surprising number of prospective students have asked me this question, and it’s always a fun one for me to answer because we are diverse in so many ways. I’ll do my best to cover the main areas where diversity is key.

In terms of ethnic/racial diversity, our student body represents 12 countries, with 20 languages spoken. Each class has roughly 40% international students, which really enables us to learn so much more from each other, as our experiences are varied in many ways and collaboration is key in b-school.

Women make up a big part of the GSM as well. Over 40% of our faculty and staff are women – that is among the highest percentage at top global business schools. Our student body ranges from 30-40% female as well, and our Women in Leadership club is very active.

We’re also ranked #1 by The Economist for the diversity of recruiters and industry sectors that provide career opportunities for our grads. We represent a diversity of industries and job functions, which you can learn more about here.

The GSM prides itself on the fact that our students are not “cookie cutter” MBAs – we really are a diverse group, and we like it that way. Visit our admissions page for even more info on diversity at the GSM.

  1. How do I prepare for my admissions interview?

Lucky for you, I’ve already written a blog post on this subject! Click here to learn what to wear, what the team is looking for in future students, and more. You’re welcome.

What is the work-life balance like in business school?

The answer to this question is different for everyone. Some of my classmates have young children, many of us are married. In fact, during my first year, I was planning a wedding on top of my school responsibilities, involvement in clubs, and internship search. As you can imagine, it was a lot of work! It can be overwhelming, but in general I was very comfortable with my work-life balance and found plenty of opportunities to have fun and blow off steam. This year, I’m on the board of three clubs and taking a full load of classes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So there you have it! There are of course many, many more questions, but I hope this helps answer some of your burning questions about the GSM and business school in general.

Blog by Christine Bolghand – Class of 2015

“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

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.

How to Prepare for an MBA Admissions Interview–By Siamac

Interview-tips1
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!