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Fridays from the Frontline: UCLA Anderson Student Perspectives

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There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that the first year of any MBA program is overwhelming. Even for the brave souls who can hit the ground running no matter how new or strange the situation, there is the simple transition from a full-time work schedule into a full-time student role—likely for the first time in many moons—to contend with.

Prospective b-schoolers sweating as they imagine their return to student life would do well to take a few notes from UCLA Anderson’s Jessica Cheng before kicking off their first year. Cheng recently took to the school blog to break down a typical day in the life of a first-year MBA student.

The following piece has been republished in its entirety from its original source, the “UCLA Anderson Blog.”

Student Perspectives: A Day in the Life of Jessica Cheng ’20

This post is a part of the Student Perspectives series – each post is written by a current UCLA Anderson student, and provides first-hand perspectives and experiences about being an MBA student at UCLA Anderson.

Hi Everyone!

My name is Jessica and I’m a first-year MBA student at UCLA Anderson. I’ve been loving my Anderson experience so I wanted to share with all of you what a typical day might look like. While every day is different, the energy and excitement around campus has been consistent throughout my experience.

To give you a bit of a background, I came to Anderson to try to start my own company in the fitness-tech space. (Shameless plug: Anderson is amazing for entrepreneurship!) Previously, I studied hospitality management at Cornell University and pursued a career at Royal Caribbean Cruises doing revenue management and corporate planning. I plan to bring my service mindset into the creation of an amazing tech product.

8:00 am: Wake up, think about going on a run, and changed my mind. I try meditating instead which is supposed to be great for mental health. After a healthy breakfast, I go through my inbox and review my schedule for the day.

9:45 am: Econ class time! In your first year, you are split into sections of ~70 students each. We take all our core classes as one section, so these are some of my closest friends. I love seeing my section-mates.

11:30 am: I attend AnderTech’s “Tech Bytes” series, where my friend Jon (a computer science major and brilliant teacher) gives a lecture on tech stacks using Tinder as an example. The room is packed as we all crowd in to learn from my fellow classmate. Many people in the room are recruiting for product management positions at tech firms, so they are asking great questions. After the meeting, I speak with one of student hosts Kartik who points me to fantastic resources that will help me with my startup idea. I grab a slice of free pizza from this event and head to my next class.

12:45 pm: Stats Class! Again I’m excited to see my section-mates. I catch up with John and Ryan on our Winter Breaks. Today we begin discussions on linear data regressions. Although I’ve studied this before, learning it with Professor Siddiq has been especially interesting since he constantly incorporates real life scenarios where this would be useful.

2:15 pm: I get a breather. I sit outside in the courtyard and take a moment to appreciate the beautiful fall California weather. Two of my classmates join me and we catch up on life and reminisce the “Friendsgiving” event from last quarter. (It was pot-luck style and Julia’s pie was phenomenal). We talk about their experiences recruiting for consulting and I help them practice behavioral interview questions. These are tricky but Parker has armed us with great advice.

3:30 pm: My friends, Rachel and Chloe, have been champions of student-led initiatives for sustainability at Anderson. This is something I care deeply about thus the three of us meet to discuss what the next projects will be. I’m excited about the impact we’ll make together, and I’m glad the administration has been so supportive of us efforts.

4:00 pm: My Entrepreneurship ACT group meets each Tuesday. There are about 15 of us in this group and I love how driven, visionary, and helpful my peers are. In previous sessions, I’ve been able to bounce my idea off so many people and had received excellent feedback. Today, our 2nd year ACT coach, Arjun, discusses financials and how the models will look different depending on our business idea. I’ll be incorporating all my ACT-group learning into my preliminary pitch deck which I’ll present next week!

5:00 pm: I run to my meeting with the other Section Presidents and our school Deans. (Three of them are here today!) As the elected president of my section, I’m honored with the duty of advocating for my section-mates, and this weekly meeting has been the perfect forum for me to voice student concerns and spark open dialogue. Working among this group has been one of my favorite parts of my Anderson experience, as I feel like I’m making a difference in this community. I have to say – there’s an unbelievable level of trust among this group and I leave feeling grateful for the administrative team we have at Anderson.

6:15 pm: I hit the library to wait for dinner and pick up my classmate/friend Ezra who will be carpooling with me. The library at night isn’t as bustling but there’s a nice vibe to it. I catch up on more emails and update my calendar.

7:30 pm: Learning team dinner at Gyu-Kaku! My learning team comprises of 5 others who have such different backgrounds from me. Among us, we have consultants, talent managers, a sports guru, and a government expert. We are from both coasts, the Midwest, Montecarlo/Italy/France, and Japan. We bond over completing our group assignments together, and as a result, they’ve become some of my closest friends at Anderson. During dinner we talked about the Global Immersion programs versus the student-led spring break treks, and I decide to do JapAnderson and book my plane tickets so I can sit with my team. At the end of the night, we celebrate Hiro’s birthday over some tasty s’mores.

10:00pm: How did I get home so late? I catch up on emails and do some readings for class. I’m thinking more about my startup idea and decide to shoot out a few emails to 2nd years. One in particular runs his company out of the Anderson Accelerator so I reach out to learn more about his experience.

1:00am: Sleep time. I make a promise to myself that I’ll get up and run tomorrow. Will I though? We’ll see.

Student blogger: Jessica Cheng

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

Undergraduate Studies: Cornell University, B.S Hotel Administration

Pre-Anderson: Product Management

Post-MBA Goals: Entrepreneurship

Activities @ Anderson: Entrepreneurship Association, AnderTech, Travel & Hospitality Association, Strategy & Operations Management Association, Asian Management Students Association, Anderson Wine Club, Yoga Club, Outdoor Adventure Club, Public Speaking Club, Surf Club

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.