Real Humans of MBA Students: UCLA Anderson MBA Class of 2023
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biological Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 6 years, Life Sciences Consulting & Commercial Banking
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I knew I wanted to apply to business school for several years before I applied — I took the GMAT in 2018 when I was in a lighter period at work. I wanted to go to business school to round out my engineering-heavy network from undergrad, actually learn accounting, finance, and marketing (I never took a business class in undergrad), and move back into consulting as a generalist. I applied in Fall 2020 after I moved from New York to Los Angeles during the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew I was ready to stay on the West Coast long-term and knew I’d be moving on from my New York-based job in the near future, so the timing was right!
Why did you choose UCLA Anderson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose UCLA Anderson for its collaborative community, West Coast location, and the hands-on approach of the Parker Career Center. My number 1 priority when choosing a school was to choose a community of inclusive and hard-working students where I felt like I belonged. I also knew I wanted to be on the West Coast long-term. After I graduated from college, my friends and I scattered across the country. It was important to me to have a strong West Coast alumni community post-business school! Finally, a huge part of getting your MBA is the first job you get post-MBA. I wanted to go into that job search with as much support from my school as possible, and I knew the Parker Career Center at Anderson would be there for me from Day 1.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the UCLA MBA Class of 2023?
A lot of people come to business school to pivot — I made 2 big pivots prior to business school. Moving from biological engineering to Life Sciences consulting, I knew very little about Excel, PowerPoint, and the commercial side of the Life Sciences industry. When I moved from Life Sciences consulting to Capital One, I knew almost nothing about credit, financial modeling, data querying and visualization, and stakeholder management. These moves have made me a quick learner, helped me build a broad skill set, and given me a lot of confidence that I can do hard things. One of my goals for my time at Anderson is to help classmates worried about making a pivot to find their confidence in the hard things they’ve done to get here: we can do this!
Post-MBA career interests:
Immediately post-MBA, I’m hoping to join a consulting firm in Los Angeles. While in consulting, I plan to explore entertainment, tech, and healthcare. Long term, I’d love to be in one of those industries, in a vertical that combines data and analysis with strategic thinking.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would absolutely take the GMAT before I was ready to apply again (although not so early that your score might expire before you’re ready to apply). Taking the GMAT in 2018 meant that I was able to focus fully on my GMAT studying which I expect helped me get a higher score than I would have if I’d had to split my focus between GMAT studying and working on my application. Having my GMAT out of the way meant that when I was ready to apply, I was able to turn around applications in less than 2 months — it gives you so much more flexibility when a window to apply opens unexpectedly. Getting as high a GMAT score as you can also puts you in the best position to get scholarships, so that extra time studying can have a huge ROI.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have loved to visit all of the schools I applied to before applying. Because my application process began during the COVID-19 pandemic, no campuses were offering tours or visit days. Fortunately, I’d been able to visit a couple of schools before the pandemic started so I had some benchmarks to think about schools of different sizes, locations, instruction methods, etc. But I do wish I’d been able to visit more of the schools I’d applied to!
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped the month or so where it felt like I worked on applications every free hour of the day. I was really set on applying in Round 1, but only seriously started on my applications at the beginning of August. It’s definitely possible, but I wish I’d had more time! The goal I was working towards and my boyfriend, friends, and family got me through this period — lots of venting, and quite a bit of takeout.
What is your initial impression of the UCLA Anderson students/culture/community?
Anderson truly lives its stated values of sharing success, thinking fearlessly, and driving change. Students at Anderson are incredibly collaborative and compete with themselves rather than against each other. The discussions I’ve had in and out of the classroom have really expanded my perspective on business, social, and environmental issues facing our generation. And Anderson students are really fun as well! We have 2 weekly happy hours for the entire student body (Andernoons which is on-campus, and Office Hours which is off-campus). Anderson alumni are approachable and relatable — it’s always a pleasure to do a coffee chat with an alum!
What is one thing you have learned about UCLA Anderson that has surprised you?
I’ve been surprised by how giving Anderson students are. At other schools, I’ve heard it can be really difficult to find second year volunteers to teach first years about the industry they want to recruit into and to help first years prepare for interviews. My experience at Anderson has been the opposite: my classmates and I are supported by a ton of wonderful second years leading ACT (Anderson Career Teams, aka industry education groups) and IPT (interview prep teams) groups. Every second year I’ve reached out to has been incredibly generous with their time — I’m excited to pay that forward next year!
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The pandemic had a huge impact on my application process. For several years I knew I’d likely be moving out of New York in June 2020. I expected that I would need to change jobs as part of that move and would then have to wait until Fall 2022 to apply. Being able to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic was maybe the only silver lining for me personally: I was able to keep my job in NYC in the short term and applied to business school a year earlier than I thought. Because I’d already taken the GMAT and started my school research, I was able to start my applications in early August and finish them in time for Round 1 deadlines. It was a good reminder to have a long term plan that you work towards, but keep the plan flexible and look for opportunities that may come from unexpected places.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m most nervous about finding balance between classes, recruiting, clubs, and self-care. There are a lot of competing priorities during business school, and as an ambivert I also need some time to myself! The key so far has been recognizing that I can do all of the things I want to while at Anderson, but that I probably can’t do them all at the same time. I’m very focused on prioritization and letting go of FOMO about what I’m not prioritizing at the moment. Accountability and communication are also hugely important while I adapt to the Anderson schedule, especially considering how much work is done in teams!
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited about meeting a ton of new people! Moving to a new city during a pandemic is a weird experience: you have all of the “new place” energy and nowhere to put it. In my first few months at Anderson, I’ve met so many amazing people. I’m excited to continue meeting new people and building new friendships within the Anderson community!