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Real Humans of UCI Merage’s MBA Class of 2022

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Andrew Burt, Merage MBA Class of 2022

Age: 26
Hometown: Poway, CA.
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Brigham Young University, BS Social Psychology.
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years pre-MBA work experience. Prior to joining Merage, I worked in asset management with Cowboy Partners, a multifamily real estate developer in Utah.

Why business school? Why now?
I chose business school in order to give myself a competitive advantage as I look to position my career toward real estate development. Graduate school not only enables me to develop a strong educational toolbox, but it also provides me with first-rate networks and career advancement opportunities. Though the pandemic has been difficult, it has provided me a perfect opportunity to strengthen my skills and further my career through higher education.

Why UCI Merage? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose UCI Merage because of its emphasis on leadership in a digitally-driven world. It has been exciting to see the way technology has changed the business landscape, and I believe that there is much disruption that is yet to come, especially in the real estate industry. At the Paul Merage School of Business, I can be prepared for the inevitable nuances of digital disruption in my career.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
Before attending graduate school, I was able to spend two years of missionary service in Guatemala and along the border of Mexico. During this time, I was able to witness poverty and all the resulting consequences at a very close and personal level. Because of this experience, my world view expanded; this perspective not only will enable me to enhance the program, but it’s also what inspires me to make a positive impact on the availability of affordable housing to a larger segment of our society.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
A fun fact about me is that I played competitive tennis all throughout my childhood and high school. I was actually recruited to play at the collegiate level at BYU.

Post-MBA career interests?
I hope to meld my current experience with what I learn at the Paul Merage School of Business to become an astute development manager with keen analytical and underwriting skills.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I communicated regularly with the admissions team and current students as I vetted each of the individual grad schools to which I applied. This was most helpful for me as there is only so much that can be learned via online resources.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I started my search for the right graduate school online. It was time-consuming and I didn’t actually narrow my top choices down until I spoke with a trusted mentor. If I could go back, I would have spoken to my mentor first in order to have a better sense of direction as I went about my search.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
If I could skip any part, it would be the essays! I say this jokingly of course as the essays are an integral part of the application process. I found the essays most difficult only because it was hard for me to express myself and my narrative with a word limit in place. I am happy to say that, after many proofreads and rough drafts, I am very proud of the way my essays turned out. For anyone working on their essays, I would recommend that they be convincing, focused, and memorable!

What is your initial impression of UCI Merage’s students/culture/community?
One of the first things I noticed about the students was their willingness to help. There were many days that they made time in their busy schedules to answer some of my questions about the program. The admissions team is also top-notch. They are quick to respond and easily accessible if support is ever needed.

One thing you have learned about UCI Merage that has surprised you?
Born and raised in San Diego, I was familiar with Irvine but had no idea how beautiful it was! The city is clean and charming, and the campus is situated in the midst of it all.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I came to graduate school with the clear purpose of positioning myself toward a career in real estate development. I am most anxious about landing a job (or summer internship) opportunity that will enable me to do this effectively. Irvine is an amazing hub for real estate while the career center is always available to help; though I am anxious, I am also confident!

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to get involved in leadership opportunities here on campus. I was recently given the opportunity to serve as the VP of Fundraising and Corporate Relations for C4C and am also looking forward to additional involvement in MSA and the Merage Real Estate Association.

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.