Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2017

Elissa Morales

Elissa Morales

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

Hometown: Mountain View, CA

Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University; History

Employers and Job Titles since Graduation: Most recently, I was a Research Manager at Nielsen

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? A friend of mine recommended the best way to study for the GMAT was to do a concerted course of study over three-to-four months, rather than draw out the process. While studying did eat up my life for that period of time, it was better to have it done and over after a short period of time instead of having it loom over my life for almost a year.

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? Informational interviews! Not unlike finding a good job, you need to network. I asked everyone I knew if they had any friends who had recently graduated from business school and got the inside skinny as to how the schools were perceived by other students as well as how they were perceived by employers. It was really important for me to find a school that valued my analytic background, so I targeted those schools while applying.

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? Rely on your network for support.  Talk to as many people as you can so that you can get feedback and formulate your story. It took a lot of iterations and conversations to get not only get to a point where I understood what I wanted from my MBA as well as express it in my applications.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? It may be cliché, but I chose Marshall because of its strong sense of community.  During my campus visit, it was apparent that I wouldn’t be just a face in the crowd. In my undergrad years, I felt like I got lost in the mass of people and wanted to avoid that for my MBA.

Secondly, Marshall demonstrated a true commitment to supporting diversity in all its forms. I met numerous minorities, women and international students and they all spoke to the support the university gave them.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I want to graduate feeling as though I’ve really taken big challenges on that I would not have normally done in my previous life.  I want to know that in the two years here that I’ve tried and failed and grown as a result.  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.

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