This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Favorite non-school book?
Jenn: I am a local girl, born and raised in Los Angeles. I went to UCLA for undergrad and double majored in Economics and Psychology.
Ice cream is not something to be taken lightly. I’d say my favorite flavor right now is anything with Heath Bar, but really when someone is going to give you fresh ice cream on a waffle cone, who am I to complain.
I am, and have always been, a total bookworm. Choosing my favorite book is a tough task, but I would have to say either Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut or The World According to Garp by John Irving.
Accepted: How did you choose UCLA Anderson? Why would you say you’re a good fit with the program?
Jenn: Having gone to UCLA for undergrad, I actually was not sure I would return for grad school. I was focused in on CPG brand management and was looking for programs that would align with this career goal. After some soul-searching, I realized that long term I wanted to settle on the West Coast. So when it came down to it, I was deciding between UCLA Anderson and Kellogg and realized that my opportunities for developing a network on the West Coast were simply greater going to Anderson.
Additionally, a huge factor for me was the people. I spent a lot of time getting to know students, staff and alumni at each school I was applying to, and those from UCLA Anderson just felt like my kind of people. I always say, go to a school where you believe that the person sitting next to you is going to be as successful as you want to be. That is what I felt from those at Anderson, driven individuals who I had faith would soar to great heights, but would excel in their lives the way I wanted to: through hard work and humility.
My fit with Anderson comes from this collaborative environment. I know it sounds unbelievable, but truly, my best friends at Anderson are those I recruited with. We would be competing for the same jobs but would spend hours the night before prepping each other to assure that we each put our best foot forward.
Brilliance comes in many forms, but at Anderson, brilliance is understated, it is a cost of admission and success is defined by collaboration, friendship, hard work and humility. I have never met colleagues who I respect more or who am more honored to call my friends.
Accepted: If you could change anything about the program, what would it be?
Jenn: One of the greatest challenges of coming to Anderson is the fact that it is a quarter system school which means we start later than other programs. This means that you need to hit the ground running in fall of your first year because in early October, recruiting is in full swing. My improvement to the program would be more prep work over the summer to assure preparedness for this recruiting effort once it commences.
Accepted: What have been some of your highlights so far during your 1+ years at Anderson?
Jenn: Oh I could talk about this for days! Where to start? I will try to highlight some of my favorite memories:
1) International Travel
Spring Break of my first year, I went on the UCLA Anderson Japan trip which was organized by our Japanese students. This annual trip is a cornerstone of our program where over 100 MBA will take over Japan. We arrived just as the Cherry Blossoms were blooming and spent our entire break immersing ourselves in Japanese culture through Sumo Tournaments, Japanese Baths, Temples, celebrating with locals, touring local companies including behind the scenes at Toyota, eating sushi at 4am at the fish market and many more such memories.
My second year, I traveled with a study course to Chile where we spent a week in country listening and learning from top Chilean leadership in every industry from mining to hospitality to investment banking. The goal was to understand the socio-economic conditions that have contributed to Chile’s stability and success in recent years. The access we were granted was unparalleled. The conversations were fascinating and provided a launchpad for our future international business operations. And don’t forget the opportunity to wine-taste on horseback in the Andes!
I have had some of the most incredible classes I could have imagined upon entering business school. Because we are located in Los Angeles, our access to CEOs and top leadership is unparalleled. It is simply quite easy for these individuals to teach courses or guest lecture in any number of classes in our curriculum.
I took a Crisis Management Course with Bob Eckert, the former CEO of both Kraft and Mattel, in which much of the course was him bringing in guest speakers, like the former CEO of Hershey, CMO of Proctor and Gamble, etc., to teach us how to handle the inevitable crisis that would hit our future career. Currently, I am taking an Entertainment Business Models course taught by CEO of MGM, Harry Sloan, with a similar cadre of high status and well-respected industry personal teaching us about the changing dynamic of Entertainment.
When your classes are taught by the literal experts in the field, your work is all the more relevant and impactful. Often, in many of my classes, our final project will be a real life business issue and our solution will be presented to the clients like the Dodgers, Fandango, Netflix, etc.
3) Social Events
UCLA Anderson has a rich history of social events that keep our students deeply woven into a community. From an annual bike ride from Santa Monica 14 miles south that attracts 200+ students and alumni who stop every few miles to party, to our Casino Night which raised thousands of dollars for charity, to Ander-Prom which is exactly what it sounds like, we have some of the best parties around that speak to everyone’s interest.
I am actually President of the Wine Club and we host bi-weekly events that range from learning about the business of wine, to exploring food pairings or new varietals, to social outings, to weekend trips to local wine regions.
There is nothing better than spending time outside the classroom with new friends. Plus, we have weekly happy hour sponsored by Anderson where every Thursday, we celebrate the end of our week (there is no class on Fridays) with food and a drink on an outdoor lawn. Not many places where outdoor happy hour can exist year round!
Accepted: You landed your dream job at Nestle – congrats! What is your position there? How did you go about securing that job? What role did UCLA play in that process?
Jenn: Thanks! I am super excited! I will be an Associate Brand Manager at Nestle USA. UCLA Anderson is truly the reason I was able to obtain this job. There are a couple reasons for this:
1) Career Center
We have an award-winning career center. From everything behind the scenes with us – getting our resumes ready, interview prep, counseling – to the front end where connections with companies are made, Parker Career Management Center is just incredible. We have relationships with the nation’s top companies that are secured and maintained by Parker to the benefit of our students. They bring so many companies to campus, it sometimes feel like you are able to take your pick.
2) Advising Career Teams (ACT)
Anderson has a unique program whereby second year students coach first year students about how to get their dream job in their various industries. These advising sessions are led by successful second year students in a given industry to help coach first years about what kinds of preparation to be doing, how to start thinking like a professional in a given industry, what companies are looking for, etc. These teams help make our students the most prepared possible walking into any recruiting environment.
3) Professional Clubs and Events
Our professional clubs take over where our career center leaves off and does training, interview preparation and countless recruiting events for students. They provide access to companies through on-campus events, days on the job (where students attend recruiting events at the host company) and treks to various cities to meet different companies.
Through all these three avenues, I was able to become the best marketer I could be. I also was able to meet Nestle and fall in love with the company. The preparation and access all I could have hoped for and secured my success in my future career.
Accepted: Looking back, what would you say was the hardest stage of the b-school application process for you? How did you go about overcoming that challenge?
Jenn: I found the whole thing quite challenging. However, the most challenging part was truly understanding why I wanted to get my MBA. I wanted to understand for myself why the investment was worth it for my career. What was I actually planning on doing? Was that the right career path for me?
To answer this question, it was really 1 part talking to a whole lot of people and 2 parts soul searching. I talked to anyone who I thought was tangentially related to what I wanted to do and peppered them with questions about their day-to-day, aspirations, etc. Then I spent a lot of time thinking about what about my last position fulfilled me and what more I was looking for. Was my dream job at the end of a b-school application? What did I want to do in 5 years? 10? In some ways, I am still answering that question and had to take a leap of faith to complete my application. However, in many ways, the soul-searching I did when completing my application made my essays more honest, passionate and heartfelt. Not to mention, it gave be focus and direction upon starting my MBA. So as hard as it was, it was truly all worth it in the end.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for UCLA see our UCLA Anderson 2014 MBA Application Questions, Tips.