A 20-WEEK CAPSTONE COURSE IN THE SECOND YEAR
In the second year, there’s the usual array of electives as well as a capstone course, a 20-week project in which students choose teams and do one of three options: a management field study in which MBAs work on a key strategic issue with a participating company; a business creation option, which gives entrepreneurs the chance to work on their own startups, and a special project option, which allows teams to analyze a strategic issue facing an entire industry.
Through it all, the school has gotten closer to students and their career needs, insists Regina Regazzi, assistant dean and director of the school’s Parker Career Management Center. “We got to know the students a lot better. Starting with the Class of 2012, we committed to tracking them and met every student before the end of orientation. We started to problem solve what they needed and what they were looking for.”
The school also launched what it calls ACT which stands for Anderson Career Teams in which some 80 second-year MBAs volunteer to coach first-year students by industry and functional backgrounds. “That allows us to teach our career series and then individualize it for each student,” says Regazzi. “Our students do it because they want to pay it forward. They spend an hour a week over the ten-week period with them and keep office hours, read resumes and cover letters. Some volunteers are putting in 10 to 15 hours a week. And when it comes to show time, before the interviews, our second years conducted 125 mock interviews in one week just for banking interviews last year.”
The entrepreneurial culture is also predictably strong, with some 300,000 entrepreneurial ventures based in the L.A. metro area. “Finding new sources of value is the best way to secure our future,” says long-time UCLA professor Al Osborne, founder and faculty director of the school’s Harold Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “This generation of students wants to be on their own. They are not interested in gold watches and security. I see students who want to make a big difference with their time. My generation made a fortune destroying the environment. What they want to do is make a future cleaning it up.”
JOB OFFER NUMBERS FOR CLASS OF 2014 SLIGHTLY LOWER COMPARED TO RIVALS
Adds Reiss, who will graduate this June, “The students basically run everything here. The only disappointment is that I don’t have 48 hours in a day to get everything done.” His classmate Fagnani knows the feeling. “A common pitfall for a lot of MBA students is that they don’t do enough diligence before they come to know what they want to get out of the experience,” he says. “They are trying to explore and those are the ones who struggle during recruiting because they spread themselves too thin.”
Reiss and Fagnani are helping to run the school’s own consulting firm called the Anderson Strategy Group. Last year, the group—composed of UCLA’s MBA students exclusively—did consulting jobs for companies that ranged in size from $200 million to $1 billion, including a food and beverage company, a ticketing company, a hospital, and a non-profit organization. Not surprisingly, both of them are making the transition from finance to consulting and will join their summer internship employers, with Reiss going to ZS Associates and Fagnani headed for Boston Consulting Group’s West Coast practice which focuses on growth companies.
The fact that they already have their jobs lined up could help Anderson’s job offers numbers for next year. For the Class of 2014, a year in which the median base salary improved by $10,000 to $110,000, the job offer rates trailed many rival schools. Some 75.4% had job offers at graduation and 90.3% had offers three months out, numbers that Weiller believes would be better if not for the strength of the job market and the school’s location. Compared to some rival schools, those stats are not nearly as impressive. The average offer rate at graduation for a Top 25 school this year was 84%, while the three-month rate was slightly over 94%.
‘WE ARE GOING TO LAG A BIT’
“The market has given people some comfort,” explains Weiller. “We have more students who go to firms with just-in-time hiring. There were plenty of students who had job offers before graduation and they turned them down. That is a drawback of being in a big city. If you are in Hanover or Charlottesville, there is a real incentive to make sure you get a job before you get out of there. So we are going to lag a bit, but I don’t want to push anyone to take a job for statistical purposes. We also want to make sure they get the most value out of being here.”
All told, administrators, faculty and students seem to be getting a lot of value out of Anderson and its new direction. “I think we are on this incredible upward trajectory,” believes Weiller. “I love where we are positioned right now. We have caught up in many ways and our level of services has caught up. We have the best career center in all of the MBA world. The capstone project has been completely revamped and is now a positive experience for our students. We are delivering a really, really good product to our students. In the past five years, the grumbling went from ‘Parker sucks’ to ‘the water fountain in the library shoots too high.’”
Many Anderson MBAs Are Using The MBA To Transition To New Careers
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