What A Year of Business School Can Do for You

Jose Macedo

One year down and one to go. With a year left, you would think that there is still an outrageous amount of material to learn before becoming a full-fledged MBA. You’d be right to think that, but here’s the kicker. If you also thought yourself a proficient student of business with vast potential and the ability to succeed in any industry of your choosing, you would be right again.

A year ago today, I was making a living making drugs. Don’t worry, they were FDA approved. I have a degree in biomedical engineering and all of my experience revolved around the sciences. I could purify one of the most expensive medicines in the world, but I had no idea how to assess a market, understand a financial statement, or even write an effective executive-level progress report. So what did I do? I went to business school and started exercising my new business skills right out of the gate.

My first exposure to the world of business was my part-time internship at Mytrus Inc. I had the opportunity to work with the Director, the CEO, and external partners involved in promoting new business opportunities. I had only just started business school, and I was already applying a great deal of what I was learning to real world business problems. As my first year drew to an end, I began searching for my next challenge. Mytrus operated in the clinical trials marketplace which is right up my biotech ally, but the real question was: “knowing what I know now, can I be just as successful in an unfamiliar industry?” The answer is yes!

This summer, I put my business abilities to the test when I joined the Keysight Technologies marketing team. It was Day 1 and I hit the ground running. I was able to learn an entirely new industry, size up our competitors, assess large amounts of data to help inform marketing strategy decisions, and so much more. The Keysight culture was one of the most welcoming cultures I’ve ever encountered, and that made networking within the company a great experience. All I had to do was introduce myself and ask for some one-on-one time. That was all it took for me to pick the brains high level decision makers, including the head of internal audit, R&D portfolio manager, and a plethora of other managers and VPs.

There is no denying that I still have a lot to learn, but a year of business school was all it took to transform me from an engineer into an exceptional business development and marketing intern. I hope this gives you a glimpse into what one year in business school can do for you. Imagine the doors that will open after the full two years.

Blogpost by Jose Macedo – 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:


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?:


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

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

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

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!

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.