Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2017

USC Marshall School of Business

USC Marshall School of Business

The camaraderie between students and the loyalty of alumni aren’t simply a cultural mainstay at Marshall. It stems from students being happy with both their experience at Marshall – and the results they achieve after graduation. The 2014 class, for example, pulled down starting pay of $114,129, with graduates landing positions from companies such as Apple, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric. Over 20 years, graduates also reported earnings of $2,307,000 – higher than private programs like Notre Dame Mendoza, Washington Olin, and Georgetown McDonough according to a 2014 joint study between PayScale and Poets&Quants.  The MBA program also house three programs ranked in the Top 10 by U.S. News & World Report: Accounting, entrepreneurship, and international business.

When it comes to the global market, Marshall is well-known for its required PRIME Advantage (Pacific Rim International Management Education) course. Held during the second semester, the course includes a 10-day overseas excursion to business capitals like Buenos Aires and Beijing. Here, students visit with both private sector executives and public officials to better understand their business practices and challenges. As part of the course, students even conduct a presentation to senior members of a selected firm. Beyond PRIME – and several electives that include a study abroad component – selected Marshall students can also participate in research on behalf of Business Advisory Council for APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). Like PRIME, tthe project culminates with students presenting their findings to leadership; in this case, that’s the ABAC CEO Meeting, which draws 60 or more CEOs from the region.

No doubt, the Marshall MBA can be a challenging academic experience, with students completing all but one course (PRIME) during their first semester. Despite this pace, the structure frees students up to pursue courses in their concentration before their all-important internship. What’s more, the school is renowned for its teaching, with Marshall employing A-list scholars like Edward Lawler (Management), Lisa Cavanaugh (Marketing), and Nathaneal Fast (Management). For students like Solan Strickling, most recently a senior analyst in competitive intelligence at UBS, the level of rigor, coupled with the quality of teaching, was an unbeatable combination. “I was able to sit in on a class that discussed LBO models,” he admits. “I studied finance in undergrad, but I was so impressed with the advanced level of the first year course. What I really enjoyed about the experience is while I was at a 90% loss in the class, the 10% I was able to comprehend was presented in such a way I still remember it a year later.”

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

The school’s Los Angeles locale, home to both 17 Fortune 500 companies and the famed startup hub Silicon Beach, also offers students a wealth of job prospects. “USC has such a diversity of job placement,” explains Strickling. “The opportunities are truly boundless. Marketing at Hulu, Finance at Google, Strategy at Disney, Brand Management at Mattel, General Management at AT&T – These are just a sample of students who I was able to speak with personally.”

What’s more, the school is distinguished by its pay-it-forward community involvement, with students donating thousands of hours to organizations like Challenge for Charity, The Special Olympics, Junior Achievement, and A Better LA. “The school does a lot to pay back to the community around LA,” adds Khadilkar. “Being a non-profit volunteer myself, this was a very attractive facet of the school.”

So where does the Class of 2017 see itself in two years? For Cooper, that can be summed up in one word: Growth. “In two years I want to be able to look back and know my MBA was a transformational experience. In addition to garnering quantitative skills and business prowess, I want to change the way I think and approach problems, better understand the world we live in, and maximize my potential as a leader and global citizen.”

Khadilkar plans to push her limits. “My ultimate goal before I graduate would be to get rid of this ‘feeling of missing out’ that most of us Millennials seem to have and to be able to state that I tried every experience outside of my comfort zone at USC Marshall. When you know you have pushed yourself to the limit is when you know you are really starting to grow and learn!” Elissa Morales, a researcher who grew up in Mountain View, California, plans to do the same. “I want to know that in the two years here that I’ve tried and failed and grown as a result,” she states. “While I have a general idea of the skills that I want to acquire, I also want to feel as though I’ve tried things that were uncomfortable and that would not have crossed my path had I not come to business school.”

At the same time, Craig Tapper, who spent five years overseeing publications for the New York Yankees, recognizes that the experience will only be as good as his commitment. “I want to become a leader in our community – helping to position the program for the future by recruiting top talent and proudly representing Marshall.  I believe that any business school is only as strong as its students and alumni. When I decided to attend Marshall, I committed to a lifelong partnership with the institution and the community.”

To read profiles of incoming USC Marshall students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Justin Parker Buell / Midland, MI

Vaughn Cooper / Seattle, WA

Benjamin Drake / Granville, OH

Manali Khadilkar / Mumbai, India

Elissa Morales / Mountain View, CA

Dominique Shipley / Alpharetta, GA

Solan Strickling / Las Vegas, NV

Larry Sun / Sacramento, CA

Craig Tapper / Tenafly, New Jersey

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