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Real Humans of USC Marshall MBA Class of 2022

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Sidra Khan, USC Marshall MBA Class of 2022

Age: 29
Hometown: San Diego
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of California, San Diego
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 and a half years

Why business school? Why now?: After having lived through two economic crises (one of them being a global health issue), I decided that I never wanted to live through another situation like this without being armed with an Advanced Degree. I also realized that to get out of a crisis, we are utterly dependent on the direction of our leadership and that I wanted to be at the forefront of that. Business school would prepare me to be the leader of tomorrow and put me on the front line where I can lead, transform, and inspire.

Why Marshall? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? 
The Trojan Network has been ranked one of the strongest alumni networks over the years and that was one of the biggest reasons I chose Marshall. When you graduate, you walk away with two years of friendships, technical/soft skills, numerous experiences but the most valuable thing you walk away with is the network and the connections you made through it. Also, Marshall’s values of transformative courage and impactful service resonated with me the most, and aligning core values with the School’s values was incredibly important to me.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022? 
I come from a very diverse background because of having lived in multiple countries through my teens and that allows me to bring a global perspective to the table.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
I’m a decent dancer.

Post-MBA career interests? 
Product Management and Healthcare

Advice to current prospective applicants:
  –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Spend an ample amount of time researching schools. The next two years of your life (and possibly many more after that) will depend on the school you choose to attend. Make sure you know why you picked a program or School over another.

 –One thing you would change or do differently? Start earlier. Although I believed I had given myself enough time to apply to schools and make sure every requirement was complete, unforeseen circumstances did happen (such as COVID-19) that made me wish I had started a lot sooner. You never know what roadblock you might hit in the process, so it is never too early to start.

 –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? 
Concentrating too hard on the school rankings. Don’t get me wrong, school rankings are important but what’s more important is finding the right fit for your values and future. Look at the program of the school, what are they known for, which industries/companies they have strong ties with, the quantity and quality of their resources, etc. Then assess where that fits with your needs/wants in a post-MBA career. Analyzing my needs from a program first and then the rankings helped me focus on the right schools to attain my future goals.

What is your initial impression of Marshall’s students/culture/community? 
Every student at Marshall is incredibly smart and come from very interesting backgrounds. They are the kind of people who you want to be surrounded with, who challenge you to be a better version of yourself. Marshall’s culture is rooted in excellence and leaving a footprint in this world through your actions.

One thing you have learned about Marshall that has surprised you? 
How fast change happens here. I was well aware of Marshall’s reputation as taking their students’ experiences seriously but the immediate change in policies that were not working (as a result of COVID-19) and how fast the school’s program office was in responding to them, left me pleasantly surprised.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am anxious about the future state of the world as many other colleagues of mine are as well. Marshall has been great at making us all feel supported, but the general uncertainty is slightly nerve-wracking.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? I am excited to make long-lasting relationships and creating new memories. Part of the MBA experience is to meet new people that you wouldn’t have normally met and that that gets me excited.

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.