Imagining the school as your company


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

Take some time to explore Davis after your GSM visit

One of the most important factors for me when applying to business school was the location. As far as college towns go — Davis is a gem.

After my class visit at the GSM, one of the things I wish I had done was explore the town a little more. Choosing a graduate school is a big deal, especially deciding where you want to live for the next two years. So my advice to anyone planning to visit the GSM, is to tour Davis too. Here are my pro-tips for things to do in Davis after your class visit or interview.

1. Stroll through Downtown Davis. Located an easy walk or bike ride from the Gallagher Hall, Downtown Davis is lively and full of all the usual college town amenities – bars, restaurants, night clubs, coffee shops, and shopping.

2. Ride a bike. Davis is an amazing town for bike riding. There are miles of bike trails that crisscross the city, designated bike paths, and beautiful scenery. If you can’t bring your own bike, there are several shops in town that will rent bikes by the hour. Be sure to ride the 12-mile Davis bike loop that takes you around the entire town.

Here’s map of some of the bike loops you can enjoy.


And check out this cool time-lapse video of a guy riding the whole loop.

3. Explore the UC Davis Arboretum. 100 acres of beautiful gardens for active recreation or peaceful contemplation, and plant collections from all over the world. Ride your bike around the Arboretum loop, take a stroll, learn about some plants, or feed some ducks. Just remember to take your allergy medicine in the spring.

Keep an eye out for the biggest cactus I’ve ever seen. It’s HUGE!


4. Grab a drink at a bar downtown. Downtown Davis has everything for everyone who likes to imbibe – beer bars, cocktail bars, wine bars. Get a taste of the local flavor at G Street Wonderbar. Order a Moscow Mule and play The Simpsons arcade game. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 5Enjoy the City Park farmer’s market. Every Wednesday evening and there is an excellent farmer’s market with vendors selling locally grown fruits and veggies, cheeses, meats, and crafts. See live music from spring through fall. It’s a great place to take a group of friends, chill on a blanket, eat some food, and enjoy the great Davis weather. If you plan your class visit for a Wednesday, you should NOT miss the farmers market.

6Visit the Rhustaller Farm and Yard. E. Paino is a GSM alumnus who’s brewing and selling incredible craft beers just a couple of miles outside Davis. The Rhustaller Farm & Yard won’t be open again until March 20th, but if you can’t wait that long you can visit their tap room in downtown Sacramento.



Blog by Rachel Peri – 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

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.



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!



Blog by Li Meng – 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.

A Note on Competition–By Christine


This week wraps up my first year of business school. As my classmates and I have been getting ready to disperse for summer internships, I’ve been reflecting on how supportive we have all been for each other.

When I entered business school, I expected to come across at least a few sharp-elbowed, hyper-competitive, grade-grubbing classmates. You know, the kind that only care about their own progress and self-image. With such a small class size, it would be easy to have a culture of over-achievers who are stepping over each other, hoarding contacts and information to snap up the best internships for themselves. Much to my relief, this hasn’t been the case at all!

In fact, our tight knit community as a small class size was one of the main reasons I chose to attend UC Davis, and this aspect of the GSM has proven itself priceless day after day. Particularly in our hunt for summer internships, I have had so much support from classmates. The generosity and willingness to help each other succeed really is something to be proud of. My friends at school have been there for me every step of the way – sharing a contact here, a recommendation there, a link to a job posting, and even a shoulder to cry on.


UC Davis–MBA

I think at the end of the day, we all know that any one person’s success is all of our success. It behooves us to collaborate, to build and strengthen bonds, and to support each other. This is something I’ll be feeling thankful for and truly missing all summer long.

See you in the Fall!

–          Christine

Buffett Trip—-By Erin Ford


Omaha! Omaha!

The last week of January, 20 lucky UC Davis Graduate School of Management students jetted off to Omaha, Nebraska to meet the Oracle himself.  It all started unassumingly enough with an email solicitation sent to all GSM students to enter a lottery to meet and have lunch with Warren Buffett.  Well, of course I would sign up, right?  With over 200 entrants, 20 students from among the Davis, Sacramento, and San Ramon programs were selected to represent the school for the GSM’s seventh visit to Omaha.

Amidst the finals of Fall Quarter and the looming holidays, we all attended a planning session to discuss the logistics of the trip and lay out what must happen before our big day.  Questions needed to be prepared for our Q&A with Mr. Buffett, travel plans made, and gift ideas vetted.  Through the magic of the internet, Google groups, and online surveys, we made it all happen.

While the members of our group traveled circuitous routes from Northern California to converge on Nebraska, some of us more successfully than others, the early arrivals started their trip volunteering at an Omaha institution: Girls, Inc.  A fantastic organization, Girls, Inc., is a national non-profit aimed at providing low-cost supplemental education programs to girls.  Their efforts in Omaha are truly inspiring, and we were thrilled to be able to give back during our stay in the Cornhusker State.

The next day, with an agenda in hand, we made our way through the snowy streets of Omaha.  Not sure what to expect, the day began with a trip to Nebraska Furniture Mart.  Armed with coffee, we met up with seven other schools: UCLA Anderson School of Business, IBMEC, University of Tennessee, Holy Cross, University of Houston, University of Western Ontario, and MIT Sloan School of Management.  With such a humble name, we certainly were not expecting the monstrous complex of warehouses and well-appointed showrooms that awaited us.

As we walked through the showrooms, we were introduced to the history of the Omaha institution, a Berkshire Hathaway-owned subsidiary.  Despite their incredible scale, they prided themselves on their ability to beat anyone’s price – replete with updated-by-the-minute electronic price tags hanging from each item.

The Q&A session was up next.  For over two hours, Mr. Buffett held the group’s rapt attention as each of the eight schools took turns asking questions.  His ability to make each person, each school, feel welcome was a pleasure to behold.  His biggest take-aways centered on making sure we each knew the importance of the people in our lives.  Through his family and friends, he says that he has been able to succeed in the manner that he has.

Of course, he spoke about investment analyses in a matter-of-fact manner that made it seem as though it were the easiest thing in the world, but he made his preference for investing in mature companies with products that he understood quite clear.  Quoting Mark Twain, he stated that “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” referring to the fact that markets fluctuate and underscoring the necessity to read the signs that the market gives you.

When asked about his philanthropic work in pairing with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he stated, “in business, you look at small problems to solve.  In philanthropy, it’s the big problems that have the biggest reach.” Mr. Buffett indicated that he was interested in specifically pursuing issues pertaining to the security of the food and water supplies, but also in increasing access to medicine around the world. He said, “it is a difficult thing to decide whether to work on something which others are also working on, or to swing for the fences and expect that failure is likely.”

The highlight of the trip to Omaha was in the lunch at Piccolo Pete’s, an Omaha institution.  For most of his guests to the city, Mr. Buffett hosts them at this, his favorite restaurant in town.  Fortunate enough to share his lunch table, a number of GSM students held a captive audience and he gamely answered questions throughout lunch.  As he sipped on Cherry Coke and munched away, finishing with an enormous root beer float, the conversation lightened and talk turned to the only email he ever sent, texting and Twitter, Netflix or DVDs, Breaking Bad and Desperate Housewives, and what antics are planned for the upcoming annual shareholders’ meeting.  It was clear to all who interacted with him that his complete joy, graciousness, and gusto for life radiated forth.  A book recommendation and a group picture later, and we bid Mr. Buffett adieu.

The afternoon wrapped up with a visit to Borsheims, another impressive Omaha institution, and to Oriental Trading Company, a newly acquired subsidiary.  A luminous space with light reflecting off of every surface, Borsheims echoed NFM’s commitment to competitively price all of their products.  Possibly a brilliant marketing ploy, the writer of the agenda must have banked on the earning potential of business students, and the memory that would be seared in our brains by their understatedly opulent store.  The visit to Oriental Trading Company revealed one of the most state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced supply chain processes in the business.

Ending our trip with a group dinner at Marks Bistro, and a second assembly of volunteers at Girls, Inc, we said farewell to Omaha.  A truly unforgettable experience, we looked forward to heading back to Northern California to implement Mr. Buffett’s wise words in our own lives.



Guest Blogger Series—ROY: Return on You–By Amber Lewis

timeAmber Lewis is currently a 1st year at the GSM. She holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley, and was a CORO Fellow in Public Affairs.   Her professional background is in political campaigns and healthcare policy.  Amber is a native Californian and loves exploring its great outdoors by land, sea, and snow.

Last week my roommate (and fellow GSM student) and I were debriefing a rather heated group discussion that happened earlier in the day.  I was confiding in her about some new realizations that I had about myself, and the way that I work in groups, when she said: “business school is like living seven years of life in two.”  She had put into a sentence what I had been struggling to articulate all quarter.  Yes, business school is an investment in your career, your future financial security, and your knowledge base.  However, you will not maximize your new skills unless you are also willing to take on the ultimate, and exceptionally harder, challenge of getting to know yourself.

Before coming to the GSM I had a challenging and rewarding career full of responsibility, creativity, and opportunity.  Today, I can honestly say that I have grown more in the last four months in this program than I did in the last two years at my job.  While I now know how to balance a cash flow statement and do a regression analysis, I also have identified some key leadership strengths and weaknesses to work on and have been challenged to think about what I truly want in life.

It is par for the course when applying to college or looking for a job to be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, your life goals, and where you see yourself in five years.  Whether I was asked those questions in an interview or at Thanksgiving dinner, I always had an acceptable, polished… and if we are being honest, somewhat BS answer.  To truly answer these questions, with any level of authenticity, takes some serious self-reflection.  However, it also requires time, space, and support.  To my surprise, that is what I found in business school.

These two years are like hitting pause on your life.  You are granted the gift of time to reflect, have personal insights, and develop your inner strengths and talents.  The best part is that you get to spend that time with other people who are equally engaged in the process.  Stepping into the classroom at the GSM you are surrounded by talented, amazing, driven people, and I continue to be humbled and honored by the caliber of my classmates.  Contrary to the stereotype of business school, our class feels like a team, and mutual support and respect is a foundation in our class culture.  While your fellow classmates are committed to investing in themselves for these two years, they are also equally committed to their investment in you.

No matter where you end up, or if you even choose to go to business school, I would encourage you to take the time to cultivate relationships with people who will support you in becoming the best version of yourself.  While I am learning the importance of investing in my personal development, I have also come to realize that it is equally important to be part of a community that values this level of learning.  I found that community at the GSM.  Trust me, in the end, the ROY makes it worth the time and effort.

8 Realities Facing Every First Year MBA—-By Christine

In the tradition of BuzzFeed and other funny list sites (my personal favorite being Whilst in SF), I present to you a list of the first-year MBA experience!










…what you THINK you sound like:


…what you ACTUALLY sound like:





(all images via

Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity

photo 1

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!


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