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Real Humans of USC Marshall MBA Class of 2022

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Jacob (Jake) Lefker, USC Marshall MBA Class of 2022

Age: 29
Hometown: Ledyard, CT
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Columbia University; Double Major in Political Science & Spanish
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years, Affordable Housing Sector

Why business school? Why now?
I’m pursuing my MBA to pivot into impact Venture Capital. As Director of Community Engagement at an affordable housing developer in Salem, MA, I launched a retail incubator for the e-commerce startup clients in our Small Business Initiative, a program providing free technical assistance and consulting services to immigrant-owned, POC-owned, and women-owned small businesses. This is one of my most proud professional accomplishments and I’m eager to pivot to the investing side to invest in underserved founders, which is why I’m very excited to be pursuing my MBA now.

Why Marshall? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The alumni network, the Los Angeles location, and the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab were the three most important factors about USC Marshall that stood out most to me during my application process. You can learn more about the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at Marshall here!

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
My professional background in the affordable housing sector is unique among my classmates as is my effervescent smile

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I can juggle!

Post-MBA career interests?
Impact Venture Capital

Advice to current prospective applicants:
  –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would absolutely apply again through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management!

  –One thing you would change or do differently?
The year before applying to business school, I would have applied to the MBA Prep program with Management Leadership For Tomorrow:

 –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT and the GRE are certainly challenging. Disciplined studying with the assistance of a class and/or a tutor are helpful suggestions!

What is your initial impression of Marshall’s students/culture/community?
Marshall’s community is incredibly uplifting and engaging. Despite the virtual nature of this first semester, my classmates have been incredibly proactive in getting to know one another across all three of the cores via creative Zoom and Slack activities. The support from Career Services has also been very proactive with lots of resume review and mock interviews. I have also loved the receptiveness of USC alumni willing to schedule time to talk with me about their experiences during and post-business school!

One thing you have learned about Marshall that has surprised you?
This answer actually applies to many graduate schools at USC: I’ve been happily surprised to see how much graduate student clubs across USC collaborate together on health/wellness topics and cultural celebrations like Latinx Heritage Month.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Initially, I was concerned about the virtual nature of this first semester and potentially my whole first year; however, my experience thus far in classes and student organizations have been positive despite not being on campus!

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
My leadership roles! I am the AVP of Venture Capital in the Entrepreneur and Venture Management Association and the AVP of Finance in Marshall Net Impact.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.