Taking Stock Of My MBA Experience One Year In

by Kristen Creager on

Not long ago, I looked back at my meticulous, color-coded Excel document from 2010 that compared and contrasted the half dozen business schools that I applied to: UCLA, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, Texas, UC-Irvine, and USC. In retrospect, I wish that I placed less emphasis on rankings. Some career paths do require a top-tier MBA, but if you work hard enough, no company is truly out of your reach. It was important to me to go to a reputable, accredited school, but I believe that you don’t necessarily have to have a top 10 MBA to change your career for the better.

I’m happy with my choice of UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business because I wanted a smaller, diverse program with a great value and ROI after graduation. The alumni database may be smaller than larger programs, but the network is very tight. UC Irvine is also focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, which is important to me. The location in sunny southern California is perfect, but most importantly, the quality of the career center–92% of the class was employed by three months after graduation—closed the deal. Since I’m going to B-school to start a new career, this stat was definitely the one that stood out.

It’s funny to think where my GMAT adventure has taken me so far.
Did the first year go by fast? Unbelievably fast. It seems like yesterday we were in intensive, trying to figure out what this is all about. The first quarter was brutal as we all tried to remember how to study for exams and pay attention in class. Suddenly, it’s June. I have a feeling next year will go by even faster.

Is it hard to go back to being a student? It is quite a jarring change from corporate life. Routines are not nearly as defined, and everything in your life is all over the place. Classes are challenging, especially quant-heavy ones. Also, I do miss having a little bit of money, but there is always time later on in life for money, and it will come! That’s what the summer internship is for — to gain experience and tide you over in the summertime.

Is it fun? Of course it’s fun. The people you meet are mostly all around your age and are at similar points in their lives. Not only are they extremely smart and have incredible work experience, but their diversity means that you are constantly learning new things outside the classroom. There are people that I’ve met that I will always be in touch with, and always be proud to be friends with. Plus, southern California isn’t a bad place to be during grad school.

What have I learned? The words “kanban” and “confidence intervals” will forever strike fear into my heart. I’ve learned a great deal about business strategy, and combining the various components of management in different situations. You’d think I’d have learned it in undergrad, but procrastination still doesn’t help your GPA. My network is at least 3 times the size it was when I entered business school nine months ago. I’ve learned not to settle, not to buy the textbook before you know you need it, not to worry about things you can’t control, and to prioritize what’s important to you. I’ve learned that Orange County is not as dull as I originally thought, mostly because of my discovery of boba tea. Who knew?

The 2012 graduating class of Merage is going into prestigious opportunities at companies like Apple, Disney, Oakley, and Deloitte. When they started, the economy was tanked and many people thought they were crazy to enter a graduate program. We’ve all heard the MBA naysayers, but even with only one year finished, I can say that business school has and will continue to improve the quality of my life.

As for the class of 2013, I’m extremely proud that we got through this, and I will miss seeing everyone each day as they go off around the country to their amazing internships.

Time to celebrate.

Kristen Creager, an MBA student at UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business, blogs at kristencreager.com.

  • Stanford or Burst

    Let’s face it. That’s because you got rejected at all the others, and you had no choice but to settle with UCI.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25503923 Bruce Vann

    What a troll!!

  • Anonymous

    Like any person willing to pursue their dreams- whether it’s an MBA or not- Kristen should be applauded for investing in her education. “Stanford or Burst” most likely does not have an MBA, least of all one from Stanford.

  • Miami Phil

    I don’t understand how people can post negative comments on a forum aimed at someone who is just trying to help others by sharing her experience. Where are the moderators on this forum? What a disgusting comment by ‘stanford or bust’. Kristen, I hope you don’t get discouraged by these types of people that are trolling the forums. Your post was very well written and informative.

  • ta

    I love your positive attitude and the fact that you believe any job is within reach is you believe enough and work hard enough.

  • ta

    dumb shit

  • baberm

    great post !! UC Irvine was one of my choice as well but I didn’t want to leave the Bay Area. Merage is a great school along with the alumni network. Good luck

  • George

    even if this was true, I am 100% sure that she is a very rare kind of confident, ambitious and clear person, and this type of people is definitely who make difference in their lives and others. The person who emphasize so much on the brand of his institution is actually trying to address something in his personality by hiding behind the brand. But, kristen, stands by her own capabilities only, she does not need a stamp from whatever institution to till people how great she is. If I am on a hiring position I will absolutely pick her out of all other douchebags, Keep up the good attitude krestin, I swear you will be achieving your dream faster than expected.

  • Justin

    Inspiring article, Kristen. I’m just beginning my journey, and plan to apply to b-school next year (matriculation 2015). Despite that fact, I’ve already had a couple of friends express their “what?” face when I mentioned my plans. Nonetheless, I have the support of my family, coworkers, and wife, so I will not be deterred. I just finished studying for the night (GMAT), and I found this refreshing. Thanks.

    As for the rude comment below…good luck getting into Stanford. For your sake, I hope they [Stanford] don’t make decisions based on the character of the applicant.

  • http://tgolson.com/ Tyler Olson

    “…I looked back at my meticulous,
    color-coded Excel document from 2010 that compared and contrasted the
    half dozen business schools that I applied to…”

    Haha, oh man… that sure rings a bell. At least you got it narrowed down, I still have a full dozen places with ‘green’ highlights. But those will surely need to be refined before application time.

    I looked
    back at my meticulous, color-coded Excel document from 2010 that
    compared and contrasted the half dozen business schools that I applied
    to: UCLA, Vande – See more at:
    http://poetsandquants.com/2012/07/28/taking-stock-of-my-mba-experience-one-year-in/#sthash.qQiN1vYu.dpuf
    I looked
    back at my meticulous, color-coded Excel document from 2010 that
    compared and contrasted the half dozen business schools – See more at:
    http://poetsandquants.com/2012/07/28/taking-stock-of-my-mba-experience-one-year-in/#sthash.qQiN1vYu.dpuf
    I looked
    back at my meticulous, color-coded Excel document from 2010 that
    compared and contrasted the half dozen business schools – See more at:
    http://poetsandquants.com/2012/07/28/taking-stock-of-my-mba-experience-one-year-in/#sthash.qQiN1vYu.dpuf
    I looked
    back at my meticulous, color-coded Excel document from 2010 that
    compared and contrasted the half dozen business schools – See more at:
    http://poetsandquants.com/2012/07/28/taking-stock-of-my-mba-experience-one-year-in/#sthash.qQiN1vYu.dpuf

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