Jovanna Youssef earned her MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Here she gives advice to future students.
Name: Jovanna Youssef
School: MBA, Anderson School of Management, University of California Los Angeles
Profession: Apple Inc., San Francisco, CA
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?
At Anderson, I took on two large roles with clubs I was particularly interested in: I was the VP of Yield and Special Projects for the Admissions Ambassador Corps (AAC) and the Lead Anderson Career Team (ACT) Coach for the technology industry. Because I cared deeply about these two initiatives and wanted to have an impact, I invested quite a bit of time in the roles. I am most proud of my role as an ACT Coach. As part of this role, I led a weekly class of first-year students to prepare them for recruiting and help them secure their summer internships. For me, it was an opportunity to give back at Anderson and was incredibly rewarding to see the class grow, and become more confident in their abilities and go on to secure their dream internships. Nothing was more rewarding than the emails, texts, and phone calls from students when they received their offers! That being said, since I cared so deeply about these roles, I invested a lot of time in them and balancing my time was a challenge at times. My advice is to determine how you want to give back and then focus on one or two key ways to do so so that you don’t get burned out. Because I enjoyed these roles and they were important to me I didn’t mind taking the time to work on them.
What has been your favorite classroom experience?
It’s tough to pick a favorite because I had a number of incredible professors and classroom experiences. One of my favorite experiences was taking Business Strategy with Professor Keith Chen who is also the Head of Economic Research for Uber. His professional experience helped mold the classroom discussion and provided a very rich learning experience. It was fascinating to learn about strategy from someone who is currently working with one of the most disruptive companies of our time.
How has your cohort/classmates influenced your MBA experience?
I gained such an appreciation for the importance of diversity of thought of individuals of various backgrounds. Leading up to business school, we all had very different experiences, lived in different cities, utilized different skills, and this all comes together in the classroom. Everyone’s varying experiences and backgrounds shaped their thoughts and how they approach issues and problems found in and outside of the classroom. I’ve learned so much from the different perspectives of my classmates and it’s helped me become even more open to new ways of thinking.
Why an MBA?
How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you? Do you have advice for students considering an MBA on how to make that decision?
I chose Anderson for two main reasons: the collaborative culture and the plethora of opportunities. The collaborative culture at Anderson is truly unique and unlike anything I’ve experienced elsewhere. My classmates, the alumni network, and the administration were always available and willing to help with everything from classes to recruiting. I was constantly struck by the caliber of people I was surrounded by and had the ability to learn from. Anderson does a great job of selecting students that are a great culture fit which played a big role in how much I enjoyed the two years.
From a professional perspective, Anderson had all of the opportunities I was looking for. The strong west coast network with regards to the companies I was interested in was very important to me. Going to school in a city like Los Angeles gives you access to leaders and executives that were based in the city and can easily drop by to speak on campus or meet for coffee. Those unique opportunities and that level of access were what really drew me to UCLA Anderson. (The palm trees don’t hurt either.)
My advice is to think about what you want to do career wise post MBA and find a program that will have the resources and opportunities you are looking for. Do your homework: Ask about career services, meet people from the career office, and research which companies recruit at the school you are interested in.
Advice for future applicants
What are some dos and don’ts in the MBA preparation process?
Everyone has a very different approach to the MBA preparation process. There are different components to the process (the GMAT, the application, letters of recommendation, and the essays) and each person has a different approach to these pieces. Regarding the GMAT, do not just gravitate towards the popular GMAT class that others are taking. Figure out what best suits your learning needs and set yourself up for success. For example, I preferred to self-study with the help of online tools and that worked well for me. When it comes to letters of recommendation, do as much as possible to help those writing your letters. These individuals are doing you a favor so make sure to give them ample time, check in often, and equip them with the tools necessary to write an impactful letter of rec. Some people prepare for a year or more in advance while others have a 3-4 month timeline. My advice is to determine what works best for you, establish a timeline and do your best to stick to it.
Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?
I was fortunate enough to secure a product management internship at Apple for the summer which greatly influenced how I approached my next year of school and career going forward. The internship helped highlight what I had learned in the previous year, but also helped me understand where I had learning gaps that I could focus on the following year. I tailored my second year of the MBA program to taking the classes and seeking out the experiences necessary to help fill any gaps. It also exposed me to the product management role and confirmed my interest in the space and the company and I’m excited about the opportunity to return there full time.
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