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June 21, 2011

Q&A with a Member of the USC Marshall MBA Class of 2011

In this post, my former client (USC2011), who just graduated from the USC Marshall School of Business, has provided great insights into the MBA program.  USC2011 provided the following background information: "I am a recent graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business. I also completed my undergraduate studies at USC in finance. Prior to business school, I worked in finance and consulting before running my own restaurant. I will be starting my post-MBA career with KPMG as an associate in the Valuations group."


Adam: Looking back on your MBA experience, what do you think you have gained from the experience?

USC2011: Personally, the greatest of my lessons came from outside of the classroom in constantly being pressured to do a dozen things at once, in learning to work with all sorts of people and in learning to keep my cool in uncomfortable situations. Yet and still, if I had to pinpoint one thing that I have gained from the MBA experience, it would be the network of professionals that I have been invited into. Even though I earned my spot in the Trojan network when I graduated from the undergraduate business program, the Marshall MBA network was even tighter than I had imagined. This network has opened many doors for me and my peers and I firmly believe that it will continue to do so for the rest of my career.

Adam: What parts of the program have you liked the most? The least?

USC2011: The two aspects I liked the most about the program were the people and the entrepreneurship program. Our class had a truly diverse group of people representing all walks of life from a singer/songwriter from North Carolina to an environmental engineer from Turkey; and we were all bound by the Trojan network that I spoke of in the previous question. At C4C weekend in Stanford, it was truly amazing to see every Marshall MBA radiating in school spirit when we won the coveted Golden Briefcase.
On a more academic note, the entrepreneurship program at USC is top notch. As a former entrepreneur, I commend the program for preparing students in every aspect from conceptualization and realization of a business idea to the difficult personal decisions that follow in pursuing that business. I found the program to be very hands-on and practical. In fact, many businesses have been launched with the help of this program.
As for what I liked the least…I have to admit that I am biased. If I had to choose, though, I would say the location. There are plenty of things to do in Los Angeles. But there are only so many places in the immediate area that students can unwind at after a ten-hour group meeting.

Adam: To what extent do you think the school has delivered on its mission?

USC2011: I think the school was very focused on career placement and improving the quality of the program. This is an on-going mission that is still in progress but the program is becoming stronger in both aspects, though more prominently in career placement.

Adam: How would you describe the culture of the business school?

USC2011: The culture is reflective of what you would expect from a southern Californian school: open-minded, fun, entrepreneurial, etc. Add in some of that infamous Trojan spirit and you will arrive at the culture of the Marshall MBA program.

Adam: Did you actually have any time for clubs? If so, which ones are you active in?

USC2011: I specifically made time for clubs, as I was more interested in things that happened outside of the classroom. In my first year, I joined nine clubs. They were mostly career-related and they were a great way to learn more about career paths. I was a representative for the Entrepreneurship Club, Consulting Club and the Marshall Ambassador Program. In my second year, I was more selective about my choices, choosing only clubs that were relevant to my career and interests. I was the president of the Hospitality Club and became a career coach for first-year students.

Adam: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?

USC2011: While my classmates possess the typical MBA characteristics, the one common characteristic that we have all obtained over the last two years was school spirit. We have tremendous school spirit and a strong bond within the Marshall network.

Adam: Are there any changes coming to the school?

USC2011: I was very excited to see that more and more prestigious firms have started to recruit at our school. Furthermore, the curriculum and classes are constantly morphing to meet student needs. I think they are also reinstating the study abroad program that was temporarily suspended while I was in school.

Adam: What is your opinion of the career services center at your school?

USC2011: Our career services center is great if you use it. Much like many other things in life, if you show the initiative, the career services center will take care of you. There have been many changes for the better. There are more career workshops as well as time for individual counseling. The office has been actively reaching out to companies/alumni for recruiting purposes and have been successful, as reflected in the placement record.

Adam: What is the job market like for you and your classmates?

USC2011: Placement this year has been surprisingly good. Not only are the numbers better than expected but the quality of the placement has improved significantly with many of my classmates entering the consulting and investment banking fields.

Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to your school?

USC2011: We are a very fit-driven school. Make sure you know what you are getting into before you consider the program.

Adam: Are there any specific websites or blogs that you would recommend that applicants look at to learn more about your school?

USC2011: A classmate of mine was writing a blog for the Financial Times. Here is the last article he wrote.

I want to thank USC2011 for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish USC2011 the best of luck as she begins to engage in her new career.

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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