Priyanka Anandampillai, USC Marshall MBA Class of 2020
Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA (but raised in India for most of my life)
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Miami, Bachelors in Marine Science and Biology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years, Marketing in CPG Industry
Why business school? Why now?
I wanted a change in my career. I always knew I wanted a career in social impact or environmental sustainability, and also knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I did not have any formal training, given that I got my bachelor’s degree in a double science major. I took one business class during undergrad and realized that was not enough.
Also, I did not have the kind of network I would need to successfully start a business in a niche field like social impact. An MBA provided a solution to all my needs, and it seemed that right time for me to go back to school.
Why USC Marshall? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Some of the main factors that contributed to my choosing USC Marshall were the infamous Trojan network, the extensive resources offered by the MBA program and the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab (this was a big deciding factor), the rigorous and comprehensive curriculum; the scholarship I was awarded; USC’s location – I want to continue to live and work in Southern California – and the excellent reputation of both the Marshall School of Business as well as USC as a whole.
Also, I did a few campus visits and interacted with the students and staff at Marshall, and the vibe I got was so genuine and down to earth. They really are as collaborative, supportive, and inclusive as they strive to be.
The biggest factors for me were the Brittingham Social enterprise lab, the scholarship, and the trojan network.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020?
I have professional experience working with international markets, and interacting with and managing highly diverse groups of people – this taught me early on the value of having a truly diverse community such as the one at Marshall.
Additionally, my background in marine science distinguishes me from my classmates – as far as I know, nobody else in the incoming class of 2020 has the same degree as I do. I contribute a highly unique mix of skills and often seem to introduce a different perspective to discussions I am a part of, and I attribute this to my non-traditional educational and social background
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
The best three months of my life were spent researching sea lions and iguanas on the Galapagos islands. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. It allowed me to be completely immersed in a new culture, where I had to learn the language and practices of a community that was worlds different than the one I came from.
Post-MBA career interests?
I hope to work in the social impact space, where I can contribute positively and make an impact on the communities I interact with. I came in thinking I might want to go into Corporate Strategy, but that changed pretty quickly, honestly within the first few weeks of Business school. I am still trying to figure out an exact path but I am leaning towards working for an organization on their social impact strategy.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would take advantage of the numerous events that the MBA program hosts for prospective students – these are fantastic opportunities to meet the staff, or current and prospective students that might share similar interests.
I attended 3-4 of these and I loved every one. These events were also highly informative as the program office shares a lot of information about the different programs and opportunities Marshall offers its students and Alumni.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would probably apply earlier (I applied round 2), and also maybe apply through the Consortium program -my peers that went through the program seem to be thrilled with the value they gained from it. I also know the Consortium offers some really great scholarships to its fellows. I didn’t know about it early enough or I would have applied.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I took the GRE 3 times and the GMAT twice. I think in hindsight that was unnecessary. On the 2nd and 3rd attempts with these standardized tests, your scores rarely change so I would skip that.
What is your initial impression of USC Marshall’s students/culture/community?
Collaborative, supportive, fun, enthusiastic, driven, and inclusive.
One thing you have learned about USC Marshall that has surprised you?
How much school spirit the campus fills up with during football season. Also, I didn’t know that “Legally Blonde” was shot on the main campus.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Staying on top of my school work while making sure to devote enough attention and time to networking, recruiting for jobs, and participating in student clubs. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed and feel stretched thin – which makes it all the more important to establish your priorities and make sure to also take care of your personal well-being.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
All the opportunities that the school offers its students. I’m excited to meet and get to know my peers in my cohort, to be doing informational interviews, reaching out to Alumni that are doing similar things to what I am interested in, taking on leadership roles in student organizations, and also enjoying the feeling of being a student again!