UCLA, Anderson School of Management
Hometown: Lima, Peru
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Missouri St. Louis – B.S. Business Administration
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Publicis Worldwide – Account Planner; Prima Eximport SAC (Maternity and Baby Accessories Retailer) – Head of Marketing and Sales
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I have three pieces of advice. First, organize yourself! I was working at the time I started studying, so if I hadn’t drawn limits on workload and come up with a good studying schedule I wouldn’t have been able to make it. Second, have a great support system behind you. The GMAT for me was the hardest part of the application process and it was extremely helpful to have family and friends encouraging me to keep studying and keep practicing. Third, exercise. For many applicants, studying 24/7 is the way to go. For me, going for runs or working out at the gym gave me the perfect opportunity to put my mind to rest.
Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Determine what your professional and career goals are and have a clear sense of the kind of experience you want to have. In my case, I am a career switcher looking to pursue management and human capital consulting, and this led me to look for programs that had strong ties with consultancies and whose alumni had been increasingly successful in recruiting for both functions. Furthermore, it is extremely important to know in what kind of environment you thrive (close and small communities vs independent competitive ones, big city vs small city, and so on). I am sure that knowing these two will make your MBA search a lot easier.
What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? The second hardest part of the MBA application for me was writing the essays. Trying to stick to the word count while trying to convey why I wanted to attend a particular school and what made me so great was daunting. It might sound cliché for a lot of people, but it is important to see what differentiates you from the other applicants pursuing the career you want. In my case, I focused on my leadership and entrepreneurial experience and tied those two with the values that the schools highly appreciate. Even more, I showed how this one MBA program added to my current abilities and values and would help me achieve my career goals.
For recommendations, definitely ask people who truly know what values and skills you bring to the table and how you use those two to solve problems or find opportunities within your organization. It would be a good idea, when possible, to meet with them and also share with them why you want to pursue an MBA. This helps the recommenders recognize the strengths that you currently possess and envision how those will help you succeed during B-school.
As for the interview, you want to try to come out natural and confident, so it is extremely important to prepare. Know your story well, especially because this will help you nail those open-ended questions. Know the type of questions you will be asked; do not memorize questions because then you might feel unprepared to answer a variation of the question. Just focus on knowing the kind of information that they are looking for in general. It is also extremely important to maintain eye contact throughout the interview. This helped me realize when I was talking too much or when the interviewer was ready to make a follow up question. And last but not least, if you do not understand the question, ask the interviewer politely to reiterate the question.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? After I took charge of the marketing and sales teams at my firm, I realized that I wanted to fully dedicate my career to problem-solving and human capital development, which translated into a career in management consulting or more specifically human capital consulting or corporate HR.
I did a lot of research and found several MBA programs with great track records of alumni being recruited for these functions, and UCLA Anderson was one of them. As I started to connect with alumni and current students, I realized that Anderson’s were the most open and helpful in explaining the program, the recruiting process for consulting and giving me pointers as to how school provides you with tools to prepare for all of that.
As I am committed to consulting, I knew that once I was done with school I was in for a lot of work, so I also wanted to take the advantage of these two years and experience a new city and get involved on student clubs, meet people from all over the world and travel. As I learned more about Anderson and student life at UCLA, I felt even more attracted to the program and its student’s life styles.
But once I visited campus and experienced the beautiful weather of Southern California, I was sold. To me Anderson is the perfect mix of rigorous academics, strong career services support, active student life, and a multicultural and lively city.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? In terms of education, I want to improve my financial skills and seek to participate in and win as many case study competitions as I can. I also plan to participate in Challenge for Charity by volunteering in Junior Achievement. I participated in that program at my school in Lima when I was a kid and absolutely loved it. Last but not least, I want to earn professional internships that give me valuable experience in the career field to which I am aspiring.