MBA Admissions single


MBA Insider

First Year Perspectives: Transitioning from Self-Employed to MBA Student at UCLA Anderson

About Grace: California is the 7th state Grace has lived in so far, and by far her favorite. She studied French and Political Science during her undergrad at Davidson College, and afterwards moved to Nashville to work in the music business. She built up a freelance marketing and operations career in music festivals that later evolved to include brand and experiential marketing. Grace came to business school to expand her business acumen and take the next step in her career, and chose UCLA Anderson for the community and proximity to all that LA has to offer.

Hi there – My name is Grace and I used to work in the live music industry. There are a lot of terms for the type of work I did: I was a freelancer, I gigged, I owned my own business, I was self-employed. Coming to business school was a very intentional decision to fill out the gaps in my self-taught knowledge and move into a role in a larger organization where I could operationalize the theory of business school. I’d love to impart some of what I’ve learned thus far, in hopes that it’ll help you on your journey!

Things to keep in mind:

1. You might feel imposter syndrome, so be prepared to shift your perspective

For me, there was a big culture shock associated with coming to business school. After working in the creative industries, I was meeting and being placed on teams with people I’d never overlapped with before professionally. Their resumes seemed incredible, peppered with big names, huge budgets, and scope that felt beyond my wildest dreams. In conversation I learned that my peers felt the same way I did, like there was no way they could compare to the person to their left or right. It’s like they say: comparison truly is the thief of joy. I urge you to consider instead how much you can learn from people with different histories and rich experiences.

2. Recognize your strengths and learn to articulate them effectively

Chances are if you’re coming from a self-employed background, you’re intensely driven and self-motivated. You are the ever-elusive self-starter, and you’ve probably got the LLC to prove it. I don’t think I gave myself enough credit for this early on, and I’m telling you now to do it! You took the leap, you bet on yourself, and you built something. That process requires a serious level of determination, foresight, intentionality, and skill. Whether you’re building robots, making croissants, or running a team of marketers, acting as your own business entity is a courageous maneuver that shows strong capabilities for problem-solving, visioning, and execution. Get comfortable talking about these strengths in business vernacular because they’ll resonate with classmates, professors, and recruiters alike.

3. Determine your blind spots and work to address them

That’s why you came to business school after all, right? We’re all here to learn and grow, which requires a certain level of courage. It is vulnerable to step up to the plate and say you’re not good at something. But if you’re not going to do it at school, then where? Regardless of whether you want to head back into self-employment after school or not, there’s such a wealth of information and knowledge to draw from school. Get ready to tap into it and know what you want to get out of the educational experience – you can always adjust as you go.

4. Confidence!

It’s a cliché, but you’re here for a reason. Everyone at Anderson brings something of value to the institution. Diversity of thought and perspective is enhanced by your presence in this space. Take heart in the fact that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.

If you’re coming from a self-employed or arts background and are struggling to navigate the business school process, feel free to email me – let’s talk!

Student Blogger: Grace Seekins ‘25

Undergrad: Davidson College ’16

Pre-MBA: Brand Experience & Partnerships at SOUNDBOKS 

Leadership@Anderson: Executive Vice President, Section D; First Year Director, Admissions Ambassador Corps; Riordan Mentor; Board Fellow, Net Impact


mba insider single


Follow Us