Networking: The Four letter word

By: Dominik Altheimer

My first reaction to everyone telling me how important networking is, was getting upset. I saw this as unfair and as a symptom of the inefficiency of the job-market. I thought the best person for the job should actually also get the job. Over the course of the following weeks however, I gained three important insights into networking:

1. Reaching out to people you have not met before is an essential business skill. This is especially true for the American business culture. By building and maintaining relationships with professionals, you prove that you have this skill. This is just the first hurdle you have to take to make it into a management position. You can also see it as the first step of your application for an internship or a job.

2. You think you are the best fit for the position? Think twice. Your own evaluation of your fit for the job might be biased and reliant on limited information. Most likely you don’t know how it is exactly working for this company or being on this particular position you just applied for. Reach out to people and talk to them. Be prepared, show interest and learn more about this particular industry or position. Start getting smart.

3. Hiring people is expensive and associated with risk. Managers reduce this risk significantly when they get to know you before hiring. Think about the time HR and the manager spend on the process. Think about the time you need to learn your ropes when you are new on the job. Think also about the bonuses and salaries new hires get. By talking to you, managers add one more step to the hiring process and get to know you better. This way they are more likely to pick the right person for the job.

Personally, I met a guy who works for my dream employer at a charity event organized by UC Davis’ Graduate School of Management. I showed him how excited I was about this company. We talked about my background and finally exchanged our contact information. Two months later, he reached out to me and asked whether I was still interested in an internship for this company. I was, so he referred me to the HR department. This is how it started and how I eventually got my internship with Tesla.

Finally, it is up to you. Do you want to be one resume out of 200 others piled up on one huge stack of paper? Or do you want to be the guy who got referred and whose resume gets far more attention from the important people? The only thing you have to do is to get out of your comfort zone and start networking. You should start now!

Karen Mesrobian: an informational interview

1)  Why are you getting an MBA?  Did you know which area you wanted to pursue prior to entering the program?

I spent 2 years after undergrad working for my family’s agricultural company launching a new product line. I basically worked as a one person startup company establishing the legal entity, the marketing and branding (naming the product, creating the graphic design of the label, etc), and doing sales. I realized that my liberal arts background wasn’t sufficient for the hard skills I needed to be in business beyond my ‘guess and check’ method of trying things to see what worked, and abandoning those that didn’t.
I knew I wanted to be in a higher management level position, and I wanted corporate experience that provided more structure to learning the ropes then working for myself. I wasn’t sure exactly how that would manifest though…I didn’t have a specific industry or even a role/function in mind. I called it ‘marketing’ but really was looking at more brand/product management. And I had an interest in tech but its such a broad industry, especially if your background isn’t in it, I wasn’t sure if making that switch was feasible (spoiler alert: it ended up working out for me).
2)  Did you specialize in Marketing, and if so, what feedback do you have about that particular focus at UC Davis?
The GSM doesn’t require you to declare a concentration or area of focus. We have mandatory core courses that everyone must take as a foundation, and the rest of your units are elective courses that you choose. I’ve taken several elective courses in marketing, but I’ve diversified my classes to take some harder skills (data mining, and SQL), strategy classes, entrepreneurship classes, cost management classes etc.
My advice is to get a rage of skills beyond one function. Marketing is heavily dependent on pricing (econ), placement (strategy), analytics (statistics/forecasting) etc. Taking a range of classes outside of strictly marketing emphasis is a good way to diversify your skill sets for roles you may take on later down the road.
3)  Why did you choose UC Davis?
I wanted to stay in CA and the strong agriculture focus of the broader UC Davis campus was a big draw for me. I prefer smaller programs with tight-knit classes where you actually know your professors. You trade off a more well established name recognition for the program, and maybe a broader alumni network to leverage post graduation, but the program itself is more customized to my individual goals and I have a better and more personal support group in my classmates and career development to help me.
4)  In your opinion, what is the strongest part of the program?
Highly individualized program/course offerings, diverse cohort (especially in career backgrounds/experiences), personalized attention from career development, tight-knit community, close lifelong friends in my classmates, not locked in to a standard career path…
5)  The weakest?
As a smaller program we don’t have the name power that a larger b-school would hold (i.e. we’re not a Marshall or Haas), but we are a much more unique group of people that is admitted and don’t necessarily want/need the well laid out path that established programs lock you in to.
6)  If you were applying now, would you still choose UC Davis?  Why or why not?
The GSM helped me reach every goal I wanted to get out of an MBA program- I switched not only industry but function as well, neither of which I had any prior experience in. They helped me connect with Microsoft to get my internship which led to a full time offer before I even started my 2nd year (and I increased my pay grade significantly which doesn’t hurt either haha). It’s possible that other programs may have been better fits for one area or another of my overall b-school experience, but I can’t really evaluate and compare schools without having gone through the program. Every school will have its thorns, it’s just a matter of finding the best “fit” for the school culture/vibe that you work best with.
7)  Do you live in Davis, and if so, what are your impressions of the area?
I moved to Davis and live in an apartment complex on the edge of campus. The downtown area is really nice and has a very “college town” type feel. Lots of coffee shops, restaurants, greenbelts (I run so I look for nice paths/scenery). The most Davis-y thing is the number of bikes/biker riders in town…we’re kind of famous for it. The town itself is small though and slightly isolated (very close to Sacramento and a really reasonable drive to SF). I like smaller town living so it’s a good match for me.
8)  Anything else I should know but haven’t thought to ask?
Internships play a HUGE role in every MBA program, at any school. My main advice to any prospective student is to do your research on the career development team/program resources for any school you’re looking at.

Tips for Class Visiting—By Chris Darby

UC Davis MBA

As Student Ambassadors, we have the privilege of meeting prospective students interested in attending UC Davis Graduate School of Management.  Hosting visitors for class, sitting down for lunch, or just being available for answering questions has been a great way to connect with MBA hopefuls.

We welcome all prospective applicants to sit in on a class to get a feel for life at the GSM!  Here at the GSM we make sure to set each other up for success in our professional development, so if you’re thinking of applying, here are some tips for a successful class visit.

  • Relax, you’re in good hands! Every single one of us at the GSM have been in your shoes, and we all know how intimidating the application process can seem. Our team of Ambassadors want you to get a feel for the program, and class visits are a candid way to see things from the student perspective.  We’re interested in meeting you, we’re here to answer your questions, and we look forward to hearing your story!
  • Ask questions – it’s what we’re here for! If you’re wondering about details of the program, student life, or the application process, let us know!  We want you to have the clearest picture possible of what the student experience entails.  Ask us about professors, schedules, classwork, bicycles, or the hundreds of squirrels you see running around campus – it’s all good!  We want your first visit at the GSM to be as valuable as possible, so no detail is too small for us to talk about.  If we can’t answer a question, we’ll find the person who can.  It’s all about the network!
  • Tell us your story! The Student Ambassadors all love meeting new people, and students at the GSM come from diverse backgrounds.  We want to know yours!  What are your interests?  Where do you want to end up career-wise?  What skills do you have, and what do you want to learn?  This helps us know you, and all the better to figure out how the GSM can help you achieve your goals.
  • Tackle the visit with confidence! You’ll be meeting other students, professors, and faculty when you walk through our halls.  Say hello and start up conversations!  You never know who will be a valuable contact to have in the future.  A class visit is a great way to put your best foot forward into a place where highly motivated professionals are sitting right next to you.  If you’re thinking about an MBA, you’ll find yourself among like-minded people!
  • Stay in touch! We want to make sure that even after you finish your visit you feel comfortable reaching out to us.  Keep our contact information for that question that pops into your head three days later!

    UC Davis MBA

    UC Davis MBA

We’re looking forward to meeting you – see you soon!

Everyday I’m bustling—By Nishthaa #Guest Blogger Serie

UC Davis MBA

Nishthaa is a second-year MBA student at the UC Davis GSM full-time program. She also currently serves as a Product Management Intern at Syncplicity, EMC. She was a Medical Devices Engineer in her past life.

Linkedin: MyLinkedinProfile

Balancing a full time MBA workload and a part time job can be an overwhelming proposition. The challenge only deepens when the two commitments are located 100 miles apart. For me, the above arrangement has been both rewarding and challenging in equal measure.

The challenges I face are primarily in time management (heart and mind management), dealing with clashing schedules and tormenting deadlines. However, I’d like to elaborate on the rewards rather than belabor the tough parts. Below are the three most rewarding aspects of working and being in school full-time:

Reward #1: The ability to apply school to work, and work to school

This is very simple in concept, but profound in effect. Doing both simultaneously means that a greater depth and dimension gets added to your business knowledge. Correlations transform theory into stuff that works in the real world. You use frameworks learned in school to structure problems at work, and you get to bring reality from work to add color to class discussions. You talk to professors about industry trends and they take the analysis to another level. You bring that enhanced perspective at work place and raise the groupthink. It’s an added layer to my learning that I’m grateful for.

Reward #2: Safe place to huddle and cuddle with friends (no such thing at the workplace)

Also at the workplace, especially as an intern, judgment is everywhere. You have to keep your game face on—always. It’s therapeutic to have the ability to be among friends at school and discuss work. It is also great to compare notes and learn from their experiences. My classmates keep me honest.

Reward #3: Get help charting the hitherto uncharted dark waters of Corporate Politics

I have been in really confusing situations at work. I have gone straight to our school counselor, Inger Maher, who has patiently heard me out and given me gems like “Never reply to an angry email.” This was of course after I had replied to said angry email and was dealing with the repercussions. The point is Corporate America will throw Catch 22s at you and it really helps to have trained professionals on your team. They can be the lighthouse (yes I love my ship analogy) that guides you through toughies like salary negotiations, conflicting office politics, and how and when to ask for the raise.

While it can be overwhelming, this is the path that I signed up for because it works for me. Ironically, working helps me get more out of school even though it seemingly keeps me away. I am not necessarily a proponent of this specific path, however. I support maxing out your B-School experience in the way that works for you, with involvement in clubs, case competitions, classes and socializing. I’m just an example of the fact that it’s possible to do both. In the end, it does not matter how it is done, what matters is that it is, indeed, done.

UC Davis MBA

UC Davis MBA

The IMPACT of the Graduate School of Management  — By Wataru


For the past year and some change I have noticed a trend among my non business school friends.

They really have no clue what I’m learning.

Of course, they know that I’m in business school. And yes, they know I have taken marketing classes, engaged in numerous networking events, and attended entrepreneurship clinics but this does not resonate with them. While the confusion can be applied to many professions it shouldn’t be as difficult when this knowledge is fundamentally used across all industries and most roles. But I digress, the point of all this is that I believe it has become a little easier this quarter to explain what it is that actually do in school. I can tell them about my IMPACT assignment.

Our Integrated Management Project, Articulation and Critical Thinking (IMPACT) is a 20 week capstone project intended to apply the learnings from the GSM into real world scenarios. We are groups of 5 or 6 individuals with varying backgrounds and roles working as consultants for real world businesses addressing real world business problems or opportunities. If that seems like a lot to take in for a single sentence just imagine what us MBA candidates need to do for the actual projects!

Just like the real world we have little choice in our team members. Just like the real world our assignments are complex with wide scopes. Just like the real world this system is not perfect nor should it be. And finally just like the real world we as GSM students will work through obstacles and achieve/exceed our goals.

Now when I tell my friends that I’ve been working to size the market for stem cell therapeutics they understand this tangible deliverable. When I explain that I interview company executives to understand their strategic goals and pain points they have a clear understanding of my day to day actions. When I can say to them that I’ve formed connections with industry key opinion leaders they can understand the purpose for networking. All of this to say with real world examples my friends can finally relate to what I’ve learned in school so far and how all of it will be used in a business setting.

It’s either all of this or I’m just really bad at explaining conjoint analysis or partial F-tests for a multiple regression model.

My Exchange Experiences in UC Davis — by Ilari

UC Davis MBA--San Francisco

Ilari Lyytikäinen is a foreign exchange student from Finland studying at the GSM during fall quarter 2014. Back in Finland he is focusing on finance and business analytics as a second year master student at LUT. In his spare time he enjoys reading, running, traveling and meeting new people. Here goes his story in Davis:

Hi folks,

I am a 25-year-old Finnish student doing an exchange quarter at the Graduate School of Management in Davis, California.  I am writing this blog post to tell about my experiences in Davis so far, and how I have found the exchange in general.

This quarter in Davis has been amazing so far. I am definitely happy that I decided to go on exchange. I have experienced many great American things such as Halloween, Wal-mart as well as things that are typical for the California area only: In-n-Out, Lake Tahoe.

UC Davis MBA---San Francisco

UC Davis MBA—San Francisco

What were the main reasons I decided to go on exchange? Foreign exchange gives one a great chance to get to know a new country and make lifelong lasting connections. I think it is also interesting that you tend to look at things differently after returning to your home country because of your experiences in a foreign country. I have definitely got to explore more than I would have if I had just gone on a holiday in the US.

Davis is a good example of a college town. It fits the stereotype that I had in my mind of a traditional smaller college town: high ratio of students out of the whole population, lots of small bars and restaurants, and a relatively large campus.

I am happy that I have been able to explore California. Renting a car in the US is so easy and practical. Davis is also a great location in terms of travelling. It’s so easy to get to different places from there. I was quite surprised by how quickly the landscape changes around Davis.

The next big thing that I am looking forward to is Thanksgiving. I’ve heard that Thanksgiving is even more popular in the US than Christmas. It sounds a bit strange to me, since we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe as we do Christmas. Anyway, I am sure my understanding of Thanksgiving will change after next Thursday. Looking forward to the turkey!

UC Davis MBA--Exchange Students

UC Davis MBA–Exchange Students

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,


Thank You Notes Are NOT So Old Fashioned After All—-By Mackenzie

UC Davis MBA--Thank you notes

As a child, I loved Christmas. It wasn’t about all the wrapping paper and ribbons and new gifts strewn about the floor. But it was that glorious moment when my mom and I gathered and handpicked beautiful thank you cards from her stationary cabinet. Ok, I know I’m a little abnormal, but I truly loved the joy I got from drawing her fancy pen across the page, thanking my grand-mum/aunt/uncle/fifth-cousin-once-removed for the thoughtful present. I loved closing the envelope, pressing the stamp down in the upper right hand corner, and dropping it into the chasms of the street-side mailbox.

Little did I know my strange obsession with saying thanks would help me all the way through business school. Some people might think sending a thank you is old fashioned, but in a day of constant emails, online chat windows, and post-it note memos stuck to computer screens, people truly appreciate the thought that goes into a hand-written thank you card. I know, three of my interviewers called me back personally to thank me for the thoughtful cards. (All three also offered me internships!)

So plan ahead. When you head to an interview, get a nice professional thank you card ready. Interviewer name and address are easy enough (even pre-stamp so you can drop in in the mail right after you write it). Now pay attention in the interview to the person you’re talking with. This will help you write a more sincere thank you. And it is similar to thanking someone for a gift at the holidays. The gift they are giving you is their time and the opportunity to be considered for the job/internship you are interviewing for. Follow these five easy steps to a sincere, thoughtful thank you card:

1. Thank the person for the gift. In the case of a post-interview thank you card, thank them for their time and consideration.

2. Describe what you will use the gift for a why you are especially grateful for it. Here, mention a couple of characteristics you discussed about the job and emphasize or repeat why you are an especially good fit for the position. This can be a key moment to bring up a small point you feel you didn’t hit home. (It is too late to bring up big points you missed… the interview is over.)

3. Make a reference to a recent or upcoming event in the person’s life. Did you talk about his/her daughter recently applying to colleges? Did you discuss of hand his/her upcoming trip to Belize? Mention it and wish him/her well! This shows you listened to them even when it wasn’t all business details.

4. Mention something positive that is going on in your life. Whether you are excited for graduation in June 2014 or thinking of heading up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend, share something about yourself that is relatable and likable. Remember: people want to work with people they like.

5. Thanking the person again and telling them you hope to see them soon. Finish with a final thank you and reference next steps or hearing from them soon. This can help speed up an agreed upon time table or help keep you at the front of their minds when making final decisions.

Obviously, even the most expensive Hallmark card on the shelf is not going to secure the job (especially if you did not prepare for the interview), but it can tilt the scales in your favor. Again, remember people want to work with someone they like – but in light of the pile of 150+ resumes of eager, likable people sitting on their desk – they also want to hire someone they can remember, someone that stands out. So go ahead, give it a try. Give yourself a fighting chance, donate 35 cents to the good ol’ U.S. Postal Service, and send a thank you card!

(Also, sending a thank you at the end of an internship can put you in good graces with your boss and possibly translate into a job!)

Women in Leadership hosts Champagne Welcome with the Deans–By Christine

UC Davis MBA--Champagne Welcome with the Deans---2.	Interim Dean Ann Huff Stevens addresses the group

As a board member of the GSM’s Women in Leadership (WiL) group, it was an honor to help host the first-annual Champagne Welcome with the Deans event last month.

The event was devised as an opportunity for our students to meet the GSM’s senior leadership, learn about the importance of supporting future women leaders, and mix and mingle with professors and staff.

Armed with glasses of bubbly, we kicked off the night with an address by Interim Dean Ann Huff Stevens, followed by research specialist Amanda Kimball who authors the School’s annual “UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders.” Jim Kelly, Director of Corporate Relations, rounded out the evening’s talks with a discussion of men’s role in supporting women’s careers. The talks were capped off with a Q&A session with the audience.

UC Davis MBA--Champagne Welcome with the Deans--3.Mixing and mingling at the event.

UC Davis MBA–Champagne Welcome with the Deans–3. Mixing and mingling at the event.

Bringing so many people together in one room to discuss this important topic with enthusiasm, positivity and support was truly a dream for the members of WiL and I. We had a full house—even though the event coincided with the final game of the World Series (go Giants!). I think this speaks to the power of our community, and the amazing atmosphere we have at the GSM to learn and grow as professionals.

Champagne Welcome with the Deans was an incredible success, we hope the night will become a tradition that continues on in the future!

UC Davis MBA--Champagne Welcome with the Deans--WiL Board Members (left to right): Christine Bolghand, Venita Sivamani, Amber Lewis.

UC Davis MBA–Champagne Welcome with the Deans–WiL Board Members (left to right): Christine Bolghand, Venita Sivamani, Amber Lewis.

Earl’s MBA tour in Asia—By Rachel

UC Davis MBA--Tour to Asia

Each summer, Earl Raehsler, Assistant Direct of Admissions for the GSM travels to Asia with a group of top schools to attend International MBA Admissions Fairs. Earl sat down with me to tell me about his trip, the admissions fairs, and provide some tips for prospective international students planning to attend a fair.

Stops on the tour:

Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai.

UC Davis MBA--Tour to Asia

UC Davis MBA–Tour to Asia

About the International MBA Admissions Fairs:

Each city’s fair hosts admissions panels, school presentations, and test prep advisors, and also provides prospectives an opportunity to meet admissions directors directly.

Earl sits on the admissions panels and makes the school presentation for the GSM. The admission panels consist of 4 to 5 admission directors, each from different schools. Panelists give a broad view of what schools are looking for, MBA trends, and advantages of pursing an MBA in general. The school presentation provides an opportunity for prospective students to get a more personal view of the school and get information that they can’t simply find on the GSM website. This presentation is full of insider tips and information about what the GSM is looking for in candidates, and prospective candidates can ask questions about the school.

Why should prospective international candidates attend an Admissions Fair?

International MBA students tend to rely heavily on school rankings, location, and other people’s opinions of MBA programs and less on determining if a school is the right fit for them. Attending these fairs and speaking with admissions directors gives prospectives the chance to see if a school is the right fit, which is important because they’ll be spending 2 years at the school, and some students will have to move their whole family with them.

Tips for prospective students attending a fair next summer:

Presentation. Present yourself so you’re NOT memorable. Earl meets so many people during the admissions fairs that if a person is memorable, that is most likely not a good thing. Think about how you dress, how you present yourself, and the questions you ask. Think of it as a job interview. Admissions directors are looking at you as a candidate and evaluating you the whole time.

Questions. Ask intelligent questions. Ask questions that are meaningful. Ask questions that you can’t find the answers to on the internet. Don’t ask what the average GMAT score is for the GSM.

2-Minute Me’s. These are less necessary than people think, and Earl generally won’t remember what you say. Your one-on-one time with Earl is your chance to get your questions answered, and he will more than likely remember that you asked insightful questions and can show that you’re interested in the program. So don’t waste all of your time giving your life story.

Again, spend less time trying to sell yourselves and more time trying to find out if the school is the right fit for you.

UC Davis MBA--Tour to Asia

UC Davis MBA–Tour to Asia

Favorite stop on the tour:

Taipei — beautiful country, awesome people, love the city and country, and very green.

Guest Blog Series—Caleb  

UC Davis MBA--Hiking trip in Yosemite

Caleb Cavazos is a second year MBA student with a concentration in Marketing and Analytics. He spent the summer interning at Mars, HALL Wines, Mavenlink and New Faze Development.

I am 50 feet in the air on a tightrope and I look down. My heart is pounding, my hands and body tremble, and the thought, “I don’t belong here,” seeps in. I’m about to quit, but I can’t. I’m 50 feet in the air and I have classmates behind me, depending on me, pushing me forward to do what I set out to do.

“We are in this together” is posted in the student lounge. Call it cliché, call it cheesy, but time and time again my classmates have been there for support. Whether it is working on a project, finding an internship, or just grabbing a beer after (or between) class, there are always people on the same journey. As we continue this challenging, stressful, and expensive journey, I am thankful to be surrounded by people who are much smarter, more talented, and more accomplished than I am.

I have hiked Yosemite, camped Big Sur, sang in a piano bar in Houston, toured a dog food factory in Reno, tasted some of the best wines in Napa, and have had the time of my life. I don’t think about not belonging, but about how I wouldn’t have wanted to do this journey without all of you.

I just want to say thank you for the late-night pep talks, the after-class beers, the good laughs, and for giving me a reason to keep showing up. I found my tribe—we’re a little weird, a bit mouthy, but damn we know how to have fun.

UC Davis MBA---Hiking Trip in Big Sur

UC Davis MBA—Hiking Trip in Big Sur