Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2017

Dominique Shipley

Dominique Shipley

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

Hometown: Alpharetta, GA

Undergraduate School and Major:  Washington University in St. Louis- BSBA in Finance, International Business and Spanish

Employers and Job Titles since Graduation:

Geovisions: English Tutor in Costa Rica

Target Corporation: (Senior) Business Analyst- Maternity Clothing, Supply Chain Project Lead, Buyer- Target Photo and TV Accessories

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE?

  1. Determine your learning style and the best way for you to prepare for the test. Are you a self-learner or do you need someone teaching you and giving you homework with set timelines? Based on your style, either create your own study plan or sign up for a class.
  2. Set a goal test date. For most people (myself included), not having a goal date in mind will allow for you to push off actually taking the test. Setting a goal date also leaves time for you to take the test again if you need to.
  3. Based on your goal date, be sure to set aside enough time aside to adequately prepare for the test. Since I studied on my own, I set aside specific times every day that were dedicated to studying. I also took timed tests to simulate the actual test environment and to gauge my progress.
  4. Don’t freak out. The GMAT / GRE are not the determining factor as to whether or not you’ll be accepted into a school. Focus on doing the best that you can with adequate preparation, but be sure to convey your other positive qualities and strengths through other parts of your application.

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 choosing an MBA program, it is important to understand what you’re looking to get out of the program and what will make you truly happy over the next 1-2 years.  Rankings can be important in that they give you easier access to a larger pool of companies, but I will argue that they are not the most important factor in choosing a school. If you’re interested in a specific industry or function, create a list of schools that are strong in those areas. If you’re interested in having a strong global experience, create a list of schools that offer great global experiences. If you’re interested in working in a specific city post-MBA, choose a school that will help you find a career in that city. This list can go on. Most importantly, once you’ve created your target list, talk with current students and alumni to get a sense of the culture of the school and whether or not it’s a fit for you. Without finding the right fit, you may not have the best experience over the next few years.

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?

  • Essays: Everyone brings their own unique experiences to an MBA program. Even if you didn’t start your own tech firm or find the cure for cancer, you still have valuable experiences that your potential classmates can learn from. Be sure to communicate why you’re a great candidate, and why you’d be a great fit for the school. Also, be able to clearly communicate why you want to get your MBA, why you want to go to the school, and what you want to do post-MBA (even though this is very likely to change once you’re in the program).
  • Interviews: Your story should be consistent with what you wrote in your essay. From my experience, the interview is very much like a job interview in that it’s mostly behavioral. Overall they want to understand whether or not you’re the right fit for the school, so be yourself.
  • Recommendations: Ensure that you’re getting recommendations from people who are truly excited about the prospect of you getting your MBA. Additionally, make sure you get a recommendation from someone who is really able to advocate for you and is also great at communicating why you’re a great candidate. Finally, ensure that they have a clear understanding of why you want to get your MBA and what you’re looking to do post-MBA.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA?  When applying to school, I knew I wanted to potentially work in LA post-graduation. USC has an extremely strong network, not only in LA but also globally. In talking to current students, I also found the culture to be extremely collaborative. Students were very driven and accomplished, but they were more than willing to help their fellow classmates succeed long term.  They also stated that USC had very strong career clubs that gave them a strong advantage when pursuing internships and full time positions. Based on these factors, amongst many others, I decided to choose this program for my full-time MBA.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?  In my opinion, most of the valuable knowledge that you gain in an MBA program is based primarily on what you learn from your classmates.  My ultimate goal is to continue to build strong relationships with my classmates and learn from their experiences, both personally and professionally. Not only do I believe that I will graduate from the program with life-long friends, but also with an even stronger business network that will help me achieve greater success in my long-term career.

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