Real Humans of UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2020
Gabrielle Clark, UCLA Anderson MBA Class of 2020
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Emory University, Business (Accounting)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Three total. Two years of audit in financial services and one year in finance in media.
Why business school? Why now?
I decided to go to business school because I wanted to switch industry and function. When I tried to make this switch myself, I found it extremely difficult to do so and ultimately I was unsuccessful. I knew that business school would provide me with the industry knowledge that I didn’t have and great career services so I could land my dream job.
Why Anderson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I choose UCLA primarily because of their Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports (MEMEs). I knew these were the industries I wanted to focus on and UCLA has a really robust curriculum related to sports and entertainment and in my opinion the best in the U.S.
Another reason I really liked UCLA was because of how collaborative Anderson is. There isn’t excessive extrinsic pressure to perform well academically, but rather students are intrinsically motivated and everyone in the community is so supportive.
Outside of academics, I chose UCLA because of LA! I’m from Chicago, went to school in Atlanta, lived in New York City for 4 years, and all of my family is geographically between Chicago and New Jersey. I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone and move some place where I didn’t know many people and some place completely new.
It was scary to make that commitment but I figured I was only signing up for two years and then I could reassess. Lastly, I chose UCLA because it is different from Emory. I didn’t want to repeat my undergraduate experience. I wanted to go to a place with more school pride, Division I sports, and a big school.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020?
What will different me most and be most valuable to the Class of 2020 is my willingness to step out of my comfort zone. There are a lot of opportunities for growth in business school through connecting with classmates as well as administrators and through utilizing various resources.
To get the most out of my next two years, I have already started meeting with my peers and networking among the UCLA Anderson community. It still feels awkward for me to put myself out there, but I’ve only had positive responses since starting at Anderson.
As I continue to do this, I will gain business insight and technical skills that I can share with my classmates and enrich the experiences and conversations the class has in the next two years.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
A fun fact that I couldn’t have included on my application was that Alex Lawrence, the Assistant Dean of Admissions at UCLA Anderson, called me to tell me I was admitted into the MBA program on my “birthday”. I put birthday in quotations because my birthday is February 29th, so in 2017 I celebrated on February 28th.
Post-MBA career interests?
Post-MBA, I want to be a strategy consultant and work on projects within entertainment, media, and sports.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
One of the most helpful exercises I did during the application process was go through course catalogs. Because I knew I wanted to study sports and entertainment, I let the courses offered at various business schools help tailor my school list.
I would recommend that all prospective students think about the industry knowledge or technical skills they most want to gain and see how well schools can help them develop in those areas.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
One thing that I would do differently is to do more campus visits. There are so many opportunities to learn about a school through shadowing a student, on and off-campus informational sessions, and prospective student weekends.
It is difficult to get a sense of the culture at a school through online searches. If I had more time before applications were due, I would have invested more time towards visiting business programs around the country.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The part of the application process that I would have skipped if I could was taking the GMAT. Thankfully, I scored well the first time I took the GMAT and did not have to take the test more than once, but the time commitment required for studying was challenging.
For two months, after work most days, I studied for five hours and ten-plus hours on the weekend. What helped me get through those long days of studying was my self-discipline and desire to go to business school starting in 2018.
I also had a very supportive community of friends and family who encouraged me and kept me accountable throughout the application process. My friends and family were very understanding when I would have to cancel or delay plans to study, write essays, etc. They helped me stay positive through the application grind.
What is your initial impression of Anderson’s students/culture/community?
I’m very impressed by the Anderson community. I have really intelligent classmates, with extremely impressive backgrounds, all of whom I get along. I honestly feel honored to work and learn with the students at Anderson and to be a part of the best section (Section C). Similarly, my professors have been engaging and easy to learn from.
One thing you have learned about Anderson that has surprised you?
One thing that was a pleasant surprise to me was how student driven Anderson is. As a student you are encouraged and even expected to take on leadership roles to further your MBA experience.
For example, at Anderson we have “fireside chats” which are intimate discussions among students about topics we feel are relevant. The first fireside chat organized by myself and some of my phenomenal classmates was on gender equity and the culture that exists between genders at Anderson and beyond. This was a really enlightening discussion and happened because students knew the importance of having this talk at the beginning of our MBA program.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about balancing my time! Our career services programming has already begun and there’s a lot to do. Paired with academics and my social life, I am nervous about finding a balance that allows me to optimize all three.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to build relationships with my classmates! So far, I’m getting along with my classmates really well and I’m looking forward to spending more time with them in social settings but also academic settings because there is a lot I can learn from them.