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First Year Perspectives: Pursuing an MBA Without Intent to Career Pivot

About Grace: Grace Fogel is a Southern California native and graduated from USC with an undergraduate accounting degree. She was involved in many student organizations and roles during her time there. Upon graduating, Grace started her career at Deloitte’s audit and assurance practice in Los Angeles and obtained her CPA license after one year. Grace is pursuing a full-time MBA at UCLA Anderson to continue her education and to gain more exposure to business practices. She chose UCLA Anderson because of its premier location and collaborative culture.

When I learned I was admitted to business school, I faced a difficult decision. Not what school to attend, but whether to actually commit and pursue an MBA at all. I had only applied to two programs, both in Los Angeles, and like many, I weighed the sacrificial value of two years of forgone work experience, steps along the corporate ladder, and, of course, income. Despite a generous merit scholarship, the people around me almost had me convinced that an MBA would not add much value, if any at all, to my resume and corporate potential. Many students nowadays pursue an MBA to pivot careers, but that was not my goal, seemingly reducing the immediate value of the degree. My friends and family even echoed these doubts, questioning why I would want to return to exams and homework when I already had a lucrative long-term career path in public accounting, a profession which I loved. As someone with a deep passion for education, I ultimately decided to take the risk and enroll at UCLA Anderson. For those who may be in a similar situation as I was, below I outline three factors that I believe contribute to the immediate value of an MBA without a career pivot.

  1. Coursework: For many, but especially for early-career professionals like me, an MBA provides opportunities to learn a vast array of both successful and failed business practices more quickly than on the job. Nearly every UCLA Anderson course incorporates case studies in some way, which provide practical examples to discuss in class. Sure, we can obtain much of this material via articles and stories shared online. Many of us also studied business in college. However, this in combination with our shared years of work experience elevates the level of discussion. Many of my classmates share direct insights from close associates who were highly ranked within these companies, or they even worked there themselves. It’s also quite special when the professor invites an executive from the case study as a guest speaker to share firsthand insights and lessons from the situations they once faced – details that are often non-public. The UCLA Anderson MBA classroom reinforces multi-lensed approaches to business situations through various perspectives.
  1. Network: MBA students hail from a diverse range of academic and career backgrounds – and from all around the world. An MBA provides ample opportunity to step outside the bounds of any company, function, or industry and more quickly expand one’s perspective. Insightful conversations with classmates and new friendships are stimulated naturally through classes and coursework. UCLA Anderson students bond and spend time together before, during, and after classes, on student-organized weekend outings, and through domestic and international travel. Student clubs are also excellent organizations through which to meet peers with similar professional and personal interests.
  1. Experiential Learnings: MBA programs offer a variety of opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom. From company visits to business case competitions to international travel, these are generally low stakes outlets for students to learn business concepts in a hands-on way. Thanks to strong employer relationships at UCLA Anderson, MBA students participate in all of these in engaging ways. There are also a number of academic centers dedicated to different industries, the purpose of which are to provide fresh exploration and learning opportunities. Guest speaker events and industry-focused programming, workshops, conferences, and mentoring are regularly offered. Even for those not pivoting careers, experiential learnings can be conducive to accelerating the development of one’s business acumen at a managerial level.

  • Student Blogger: Grace Fogel ’25
  • Undergrad: University of Southern California ’21
  • Pre-MBA: Audit & Assurance Senior at Deloitte
  • Leadership@Anderson: First-Year Director, Admissions Ambassador Corps
  • Instagram: @grace_fogel

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