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: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where did you study as an undergrad? What did you study and when did you graduate?
Ashutosh: Sure, I grew up in a small, beautiful village near Patna, India. For my undergrad, I went to Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad where I completed my Electronics Engineering in the year 2008 and joined Amdocs for a full-time position as a product developer. I have stayed with Amdocs in various roles since then.
Accepted: How is studying in Los Angeles different from studying in India?
Ashutosh: It’s very different. I am glad I made this decision to pursue my MBA outside of India. For a starter, the diversity here is amazing, not only in terms of countries represented, but also in terms of functions and industries, we represent together as a class. The opportunity to know and interact with people from such diverse backgrounds is something I truly treasure.
Los Angeles as a city has a lot to offer and this makes study easier. The beach is close by and it’s a great place to relax after a hectic week. It’s not uncommon to spot Anderson students on the beach during weekends. Also, I am growing quite fond of the LA weather. It’s so nice to have a uniform pleasant climate round the year.
Accepted: What are some of your favorite things about UCLA Anderson?
Ashutosh: The culture at Anderson is definitely one of my favorite things here. Students are always ready to help and back each other even if it means cutting an hour or two into their sleep. Sleep, by the way, is a luxury in the fall quarter. The second year students also seem to be totally invested in the success of first years and it all seems so natural. This was noticeable from the very first day of orientation and the impression has only grown stronger in last couple of weeks.
I already talked about diversity above. This holds true in terms of recruitment as well. It’s not a class full of consultants and bankers trying to get back into consulting and banking. At Anderson, we have students with diverse career interests and this creates a great environment to network with people across all industries, be it entertainment, technology, energy, banking, consulting or non-profit.
And the best part of Anderson is a strong, institutionalized culture of entrepreneurship. Los Angeles is increasingly getting more attention by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in last couple of years. Anderson is in a unique position to harness this opportunity and is in fact, already doing that. Even if someone does not want to start a company, but wishes to work with a startup, the opportunities here are endless. And by startups, I mean all different kinds of startups, not only tech startups. The sun and the ever growing entrepreneurial community in the city make the name, “Silicon Beach” very apt for LA.
Accepted: If you could change anything about the program, what would it be?
Ashutosh: It’s a tough one:). The fall quarter for first year students is literally like drinking from a fire hose and more so for internationals. This year, the first recruiting event started as early as the third day of academic calendar. In addition to balancing the classes and recruiting, internationals also have to go through the process of settling in a new location and culture. It’s common to see students running around the campus, trying to catch up on different things. Shifting the academic calendar earlier by a week or two would be a good idea.
Accepted: How many b-schools did you apply to? When it came down to accepting an offer, which programs were you considering?
Ashutosh: Anderson was always my top choice primarily because of its strengths in technology and entrepreneurship. I also applied to Ross for their strong technology program, Booth, for their entrepreneurship program and Darden because of the case method, mainly.
Accepted: What is your favorite class at Anderson so far?
Ashutosh: My favorite class at Anderson so far has been the leadership foundations. It’s an ideal mix of lecture, case style discussions, role play and activities. At the end of every discussion or activity, the lesson becomes self-evident, without even the professor telling you explicitly about it. The other class I love is Financial Accounting. Professor Aboody makes accounting look like such a fun subject. I never could have thought that accounting would be so entertaining in the class.
Accepted: Do you have any advice for our Anderson applicants?
Ashutosh: Sure! My advice to applicants would be to know your story and the school very well. Online research can only take you so far. Beyond that, make sure you talk to the admissions people, students and the alums. Ask questions about your areas of interest, programs and classes. Ensure that you know what you are getting into.
Also, as many of you might be aware, Anderson is pretty strict when it comes to plagiarism. Last year 52 applicants were turned down due to plagiarism. So, I would strongly suggest that all applicants should do their own work when it comes to actually writing the essays. Anderson uses TurnItIn to detect plagiarism, in part to spot phrases that consultants recycle from year to year for different clients. The admissions committee wants to hear from each applicant, their own voice in essays and interviews at the very least.
For one-on-one guidance on the Anderson application, please see our UCLA Anderson School of Business packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Anderson see Linda’s UCLA Anderson 2013 Essay Questions, Deadlines, and Tips.