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First Year Perspectives: Navigating the MBA as a Creative Thinker

About Virginia: Forever in love with coastal California, Virginia grew up in a small town of 600 people near Monterey, CA and then moved to San Diego to study Film Production and Business Management at San Diego State University. There, she served as Vice President Operations for her Pan-Hellenic sorority, and won the Kathleen Kennedy Award for producing a short film as her senior thesis. Upon graduation, Virginia moved to Los Angeles and worked in feature production before pivoting to marketing at NBCUniversal and DreamWorks Animation. She is passionate about bringing more diversity into the entertainment industry. She intends to use her MBA from UCLA Anderson to fulfill that passion and transition into a strategic role in entertainment.

The commitment to getting an MBA is an exciting pursuit, but the initial decision to pursue this degree can be especially daunting if one feels that they are not a good “fit” for the overall program. As someone who has an innovative mindset and comes from a creative background, I greatly resonated with this feeling throughout the MBA application process. Even now as a current MBA candidate at UCLA Anderson, I continue to see the sometimes stark differences between myself and many of my peers; however, I now understand the value I bring to the program, and do not feel a sense of isolation from the MBA community that I previously anticipated.

My self-interests and professional experiences all have some underlying creative themes: as a child I acted in local theater productions, in high school I wrote television and film scripts, in my undergrad I majored in film production, and in my professional experience I worked in marketing. I am continuously pulled to the creative side of the entertainment industry and was nervous that an MBA might not be the right decision to continue down that path. However, I wanted to sharpen my business and professional skills and increase my knowledge of the entertainment industry, so I decided to pursue an MBA. I wanted an MBA to set myself apart from other candidates as I continued in my career and chose UCLA Anderson for its close connection to the entertainment industry.

UCLA Anderson begins the full-time MBA program with a summer quarter for first-year students, to ensure everyone has time to transition into the new routine and is fully prepared for recruitment season in the fall. These few weeks act as a cushion for the intensity of an MBA program, which considerably helps with the transition from a professional work-life balance to a student’s work-life balance. When I began meeting my classmates in these few weeks, I realized that my previous experience was in the minority. Most students have quantitative professional backgrounds and/or majored in business-related subjects in college, and even a handful of students have master’s degrees in other areas. 

When courses began, I noticed that these students were having a faster transition to courses than I was having. Managerial Economics, Financial Accounting, and other core classes came much more easily to some of my peers who had already studied these subjects compared to me, since I was seeing this information for the first time. UCLA Anderson navigates the diversity within the classroom by creating randomized “learning teams” of five-to-six students. Learning teams work together on core-class assignments and projects, and are created to bring people from diverse backgrounds to collaborate and learn from one another. Through engaging with my learning team, I quickly recognized that my way of thinking creatively was beneficial to the group and led the team to more innovative ways of approaching various problems we were given. 

I initially thought my creative traits such as “imaginative” and “empathetic” were my weaknesses, but the UCLA Anderson community allowed me to recognize these traits are indeed my strengths. Discovering that my distinct, unique perspective is the value I bring to teams was pivotal in refining my leadership style. It turns out, navigating an MBA program as a creative thinker is not as difficult as I thought it would be at UCLA Anderson. Instead, being a creative thinker is celebrated and a central element to an MBA program, for it provides a community with diverse thoughts and the power to grow.

Student Blogger: Virginia Eastwood FTMBA ’25
Undergrad: San Diego State University ’16
Pre-MBA: Marketing Operations at DreamWorks Animation
Leadership@Anderson: Director of Prospective Students, Admissions Ambassador Corps; Director of Alumni and Corporate Relations, Entertainment Management Association; Director of Partnerships, Women’s Business Connection; Riordan MBA Fellow Mentor; Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson Member
Instagram: @virginia_me

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