University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate School and Major:
University of California San Diego
Double Major: Applied Mathematics; Music – Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
2010 – 2015: LinkedIn, Manager of Ad Operations
2009: Reuters, Senior Campaign Manager
2009: VICE Magazine, Ad Operations
2007-2009: MySpace, Campaign Manager
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I took the GMAT twice, and increased my score by 60 points the second time around. I went from a 650 to a 710. My advice is to relax, trust your own learning style, and be comfortable with the timing of the test.
The first time I took the GMAT, I spent the weeks before the test studying four to six hours a day. I was obsessed with tips from forums on getting the right diet, exercise, and sleep schedule in preparation for the test. I took bi-weekly practice exams and met with a private tutor a few times a week. When it came to test day, I was worried and wanted everything perfect. I was stressed, and ended up running out of time on the test. I knew I could do better, so I signed up to take the GMAT two months later.
The second time around, I took a different, more relaxed approach. I studied regularly on my own for an hour or two after work, focusing only on the sections that I had the most trouble with. I learned to pace my timing on these questions more effectively. I ignored all of the GMAT tips that had nothing to do with the actual test, such as which fruit to eat to give you a higher score. I spent even less time studying the week of the test, and did not study much the days before the exam. When it came to test day, I was much more relaxed. The cramming I did for my first GMAT helped, as did knowing the testing center procedures, but the lighter study schedule helped me stay calm and finish my second GMAT on time.
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? When deciding on a school, take the time to visit the campus, meet the current students, and get a feel for the school’s culture. I wish I had divided my time more evenly between preparing for the GMAT and researching schools. Even though I was set on moving to Los Angeles, it would have been helpful to get more perspectives from students of other schools, to ensure that I make the most of my business school experience. I recommend spending some time soul searching and setting your career goals early. It is most important for you to find a school with a curriculum and culture that matches your goals and your personality.
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? I felt that the application process is the applicant’s first business school challenge in professional networking. The right connection can help you learn why a particular school is right for you and your career goals. Leverage your personal and professional network on LinkedIn to find connections to the school. Request introductions to alumni and current students so that you understand and can speak clearly to what makes the school unique. Be open and honest in explaining how the school’s curriculum and culture align to your personal career goals, not just what you think the admissions rep wants to hear.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I chose the USC Marshall School of Business for its culture of collaboration. In my professional experience, I learned that I thrive with a team that understands each other’s career goals and helps each other become more successful. During the application process, I asked current students and faculty what makes USC Marshall different from other schools. Every student and faculty member spoke to the collaborative community that is the Trojan Network. I learned that the Trojan Network is not just an alumni network. It is a community that you become a part of the first day of class. On a daily basis, classmates help each other to become more knowledgeable professionals. The collaborative culture of USC Marshall and the Trojan Network is a very real thing that you experience from the start. This type of culture was something I knew I needed in order to thrive in business school and in the rest of my professional career.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Before I graduate from USC Marshall, I would like to build a lifelong personal and professional network. I want to make sure that I am always an active member of the USC Marshall community. With the USC Marshall curriculum, I will take the classes that bring me furthest out of my comfort zone while bringing me closer to my career goals in athletic apparel marketing. I believe that the educational foundation and network I establish during my time at USC Marshall will enable me to be more successful as a future global leader.