Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2017

Vaughn Cooper 2

Vaughn Cooper     

University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business          

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Undergraduate School and Major: University of San Diego – Business Administration

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: United States Navy: Logistics and Contracting Officer

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Ensure you give yourself ample time to prepare. I recommend putting together a thorough study plan that addresses both your strengths and weaknesses. It was tremendously helpful for me to have a structured plan that gave me time to understand each concept and allowed for ample practice. I took a practice GMAT each weekend to build my endurance. I recorded my scores to benchmark my progress and focus on areas that needed additional work. I also ensured that I simulated testing conditions during the practice test which helped build confidence and familiarity.

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? It is imperative to understand what your professional goals are and how different MBA programs can put you on the trajectory to achieving those goals. Look closely at each program and find out which ones are placing a high percentage of recent graduates in your desired industry, function, or company. Also, understand that you can only learn so much from online research and admission brochures. The most beneficial information I received came from talking to current students and visiting various schools. This gave me the insight and perspective on where I thought I could thrive and make the most of my MBA experience.

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? It’s important to reflect on your professional achievements and strategically think about how you are going to brand yourself throughout the application process. There should be a theme or common thread throughout your application that pulls together your professional endeavors, leadership style and life experiences. Authenticity is incredibly valuable and it’s important to be memorable and create a lasting impression. I spent a substantial amount of time working with my recommenders to ensure they knew my strategy and were well versed with how I wanted to present myself to the admissions committee. This process is extremely time-consuming, so make sure to start early in order to submit your best possible work.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? It was the world class faculty, limitless career opportunities, loyalty of the Marshall Alumni network, and camaraderie of the student body. Marshall is a relatively small program and it truly emphasizes the importance of collaboration and teamwork. I was blown away by the “Trojan Family” mentality and sense of community. Whether preparing for a case competition, volunteering with local charities, or tailgating before football games, Marshall creates an awesome synergy. After researching numerous MBA programs, I found this culture to be unique to Marshall. I knew this type of environment would allow me to excel, make life-long connections and reach my potential.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? 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. It’s an honor to be part of Marshall’s class of 2017.

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