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

Guest Blogger Series–Is there such a thing as “free time” as an MBA student? –By Anton

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Anton Mironov is currently a 1st year student at the GSM. He holds a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University where he focused on Energy Studies with an emphasis on Business Management. Anton recently completed a full market analysis and marketing plan for the Department of Energy’s 2015 Solar Decathlon team from the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center.

What is there to do while getting your MBA at the GSM besides go to class, read, study, do homework, search for internships, go to MBA career fairs, attend conferences, and did I mention…read??

Yes, this is a piece about time management, but luckily not about how to make sure you finish all your homework. Instead it’s about what to do with that mysterious little thing we know as free time.

Contrary to popular belief, we actually do find time to enjoy our life as full-time students. Being full-time students is a privilege most of us have not enjoyed in close to a decade. The transition from working full time to studying full time can be turbulent because your responsibilities are much less structured. You have to find the sweet balance between playing 36 holes three times a week and doing a conjoint analysis at 3:00 AM.

It’s tricky, but once you get it here are some suggestions of what to do with your free time as an MBA student at UC Davis.

Throw a party. Whether it’s Halloween, Super Bowl Sunday, or Valentine’s Day, your fellow students are probably feeling the pressure of a looming midterm or a report that’s due way too soon.  Giving your brain a break for an evening will let it recover, kind of like your biceps after a hard day at the gym. And socializing outside of a professional setting can do a similar service for your soul. Davis offers a great pub scene littered with killer happy hours, karaoke, and craft breweries. My personal favorite: line dancing at the Davis Grad.

Go to the mountains. I cannot say enough about how lucky we are to be a stone’s throw from some of the best skiing on the West Coast. There are amazing ski resorts within two hours of our doorsteps, and you have to take advantage while you can.

Visit San Francisco. One of the most visited cities in the world is in our backyard. Or I guess technically, we are in its backyard. From the deep culture of Chinatown and Little Italy and the inspiring beauty and freedom of Golden Gate Park or Dolores Park, San Francisco is a fantastic destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway. The cultural diversity of our GSM students is mirrored in the different parts of San Francisco, and everybody can find a place that reminds them of home.

Like I said, you don’t have much free time, but if you capitalize on the time you do have, you will be able to push a little harder when studying for the next midterm. You will also find that experiencing your classmates amazing personalities in a fun environment is incredibly rewarding. We all work insanely hard to maximize the value of our MBA and having a culture that fosters social interaction definitely enhances that value even further.

Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity

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Last Friday, a bunch of us had a fun day out volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in Sacramento!

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, faith-based housing organization established in 1993.  Habitat for Humanity works with people from all walks of life to build decent, affordable homes for families in need. Their goal is to eliminate poverty housing world-wide and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience.

We got the opportunity to sort through piles and piles of clay tiles, re-arrange their stock of doors and door frames, dismantle rows of lighting fixtures, price and display various merchandise for sale at their ReStore outlet, and just be of help to the staff.  Not only did we had a great time hanging out, but we also got a good work-out lifting and moving heavy items!

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Thanks for making this happen, C4C!  Can’t wait until the next volunteering activity!

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 Will.I.am, 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!

GSM Assassins

If you’ve spent any time at the GSM during the past few weeks, you may have noticed that something was different. Not the building, not the classes or the professors- but the students. They’re are cautious and alert- some are flat-out scared. They peek into a room before they enter. They scan the hallway before they walk. They peer around the corner before they turn. Why? They’re afraid of getting killed, of course.

You see, we’re nearing the end of an intense game of assassins.

In the game of assassins, each student is assigned a target. When the student kills his target, he must report his actions to the Assassins Coordinator, who will assign to him his next target.

If you’re killed, you’re out of the game. The game continues until there is only one student left standing. (Did I mention our weapon of choice is a pocket-sized squirt gun?)

The rules of GSM Assassins are as follows:

a) Shoot your target in the back (not the back of the leg, butt, arm — the BACK), but no one from the GSM can see. If there is a witness, your kill is null and void.

b) There are no sacred areas. All locations are fair game: Tahoe, GSM, your home, your bed, bathroom, etc.

c) If your target is in a suit, you may not shoot him/her. You don’t want to be responsible for a spoiled business outfit – that’s cruel.

d) When you kill your target following the aforementioned rules, you must say: “It’s for the kids.” (Because it is! There was a fee to play the game. The proceeds went to one of the most active clubs at the GSM- Challenge for Charity. Challenge for Charity raises money for children’s organizations in the area.)

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best things about the GSM is its small size and collaborative nature- except when you’re playing assassins. It makes for a rather challenging game… I can’t wait to see who wins!

We’re mostly business at the GSM, but as I mentioned earlier- we like to mix in a little fun too. Especially when “it’s for the kids”!