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Real Humans of UCI Merage’s MBA Class of 2022

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Beeta Shahnazari, Merage MBA Class of 2022

Age: 27
Hometown: Huntington Beach, California
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of California, Irvine: BA in Business Economics, minor in Management 
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2.5 years in the Apparel Manufacturing industry, 1.5 years in the Chemical Manufacturing industry

Why business school? Why now?
Although business school has been on my radar for a while, now seemed like the perfect time to pursue my MBA as I seek to pivot industries and functions, into a corporate finance role within the CPG industry. An MBA will not only allow me to develop the critical thinking skills necessary for making strategic business decisions but will also provide me with the tools and appropriate coursework necessary to make my functional switch.

Why UCI Merage? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The first and most important reason I chose UCI is the people. All of the people I spoke with throughout my journey as an applicant – the student ambassadors, the admissions team, Merage alumni, and more – made me feel extremely welcomed and encouraged any questions I might have. The Merage school’s newly updated curriculum reflecting our world’s digital transformation sets the program apart from other schools as it delves deeper into the modern era, providing students with the tools necessary to succeed in a digitally-driven world. Beyond the curriculum, our Career Center works very closely with us to ensure we decide on careers within a function and industry that suits us best. Lastly, the Merage school’s reputation and ranking were a big influence on my decision to choose Merage. Our Full-Time MBA program ranks #33 in the country, which is huge! I am thrilled to be part of a program that is ranked so highly, takes care of its students, and provides so many opportunities to succeed.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
During my time working in operations, I had the unique experience of participating in the onboarding of an ERP system for the company, from research to implementation. I think the skills I gained from this experience, such as cross-functional collaboration and creation/implementation of SOPs to accommodate all departments, will allow me to add value to our class discussions from a unique perspective and see the bigger picture when it comes to business strategies.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I am a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do!

Post-MBA career interests?
I am exploring a post-MBA career in Corporate Finance within the CPG industry.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Speak with current students! There is no better perspective than someone who is currently going through the journey you are about to embark on. Current students hold so much valuable insight about the application process, the program and curriculum, extracurriculars, social life, recruiting, and more.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
During my application process, I only had the opportunity to sit in on one class at one business school. If I were to do it all over again, I would absolutely try to sit in on at least one class per school, if not more. This will give you a good sense of the academic environment, the professors at the school, and your potential future peers

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I absolutely would have skipped the stress and anxiety I felt over admissions interviews! While interviewing might be a daunting part of the process, MBA students will end up at a school where they fit best, and they will succeed. The stress is not worth it – it will all work out in the end!

What is your initial impression of UCI Merage’s students/culture/community?
I have quickly learned that the community at Merage is extremely welcoming. My classmates, along with the second-year MBA students, are always willing to help – whether it be a resume review, a mock interview, general career advice, homework help, or anything else. It’s been amazing to witness this unique group of people come together in the virtual environment and help each other thrive. As a smaller program, it feels like we are part of a close-knit community – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One thing you have learned about UCI Merage that has surprised you?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that UCI Merage recently re-vamped its academic curriculum to reflect the digital transformation taking place today. This digital-centered curriculum, especially at a time like this, is essential for remaining competitive and relevant and will provide the necessary education and skills to become a successful employee in the workforce. As a student who began this MBA journey during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been amazing to witness how quickly Merage was able to transform into a remote learning environment, utilizing the digital resources the school has created as part of this digital transformation in order to ensure students’ success.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I would say probably just learning how to juggle all of my commitments. As I haven’t been a student in a while, it will take me some time to adjust to balancing class, studying, extracurriculars, and my life outside of Merage – even in the virtual environment! I’m continuing to say yes to everything to get the full MBA experience, and as some second-year students have mentioned to me, I’ll figure out how to fit it all into my schedule later.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to have the opportunity to network with and get to know my peers. Our class is filled with business professionals from various impressive backgrounds, and it will be such a unique experience to go through the next two years with these talented individuals, developing relationships on not only a professional level but a personal level as well. I know that the relationships I build during these next few years will extend several years beyond the MBA program.

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.