This post is a part of the Student Blogger series - each post is written by a current UCLA Anderson student, and provides first-hand perspectives and experiences about being an MBA student at UCLA Anderson.
Although it’s hard to imagine ever leaving beautiful southern California, every year, Anderson students take a week to visit different cities in pursuit of companies in their targeted industries. We call these DOJs (Days-On-the-Job) -- read this past blog post for some additional background information.
We talked to 5 different students who went on 5 different treks (of many more!) to get some insights on the companies they visited and some key takeaways from these trips:
TREK #1: RETAIL
Name: Judy Zhou
Cities: New York City and San Francisco
Companies visited: Tiffany & Co., Coach, William Sonoma/Pottery Barn, Levi’s, Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy, Moda Operandi, Baublebar
What was a commonality between all the companies you visited? The retail industry is constantly changing and retail companies have to find a balance between staying on brand while adapting to the needs of the consumer at any given moment to follow trends in culture, tech and social media. As a result, retail moves very quickly and a lot of things happen “just-in-time,” including recruiting.
What was something unexpected or surprising that you learned on your trek? During the Coach company visit, we got to see its headquarters (since Coach is a US company), and do a tour of its prototyping lab as well as its archives. This was an amazing experience since we got to see how designs are transformed into products right then and there, and also witness the brand evolution over the years since its founding in 1941.
TREK #2: CONSULTING
Name: Steve Bivona
City: Los Angeles
Companies visited: Boston Consulting Group and Cornerstone Research
What was a commonality between all the companies you visited? The office presentations were focused on a typical day in the life of a consultant. Practitioners shared their calendars with us and discussed how they juggle client projects with self-development work and life balance.
What was something unexpected or surprising that you learned on your trek? I was impressed by how practitioners balanced the fast-paced culture at the office while still taking the time to show us around and talk about their daily work. There were several large meetings taking place and as soon as one practitioner was called into a meeting, another would seamlessly take over the presentation.
TREK #3: HEALTHCARE
Name: Erin Kelm
City: Bay Area
Companies visited: Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente, Intuitive Surgical
What was a commonality between all the companies you visited? A passion for improving the lives of patients was a common theme at all of the companies we visited during DOJ week. Members of the healthcare community are motivated by the fact that they are serving the greater good in their careers, and decisions are made with the patient’s best interest in mind.
What was something unexpected or surprising that you learned on your trek? Something unexpected I learned during the healthcare trek was how to operate Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Surgical System, which doctors around the world use to perform minimally invasive robotic surgery. We had the opportunity to take a quick crash course in operating the instrument and practiced on some virtual patients. It’s not as easy as it looks!
TREK #4: SPORTS BUSINESS
Name: Becca Katz
Companies visited: Columbia Sportswear, Adidas, Nike
What was a commonality between all the companies you visited? A relentless focus on the end customer.
What was something unexpected or surprising that you learned on your trek? I learned that Adidas and Puma were started by two epically feuding brothers (Adi Dassler started Adi-Das, and Rudi Dassler, Puma), and their families still refuse to communicate with one another to this day.
TREK #5: MARKETING
Name: Jen Ju
City: Los Angeles (Special Side Note: The best thing about the Marketing Association is that a lot of the marketing companies are based in Southern California, so many students can go on an industry specific trek during DOJ week (such as tech, retail or sports) and do marketing company visits interspersed throughout the year.)
Companies visited: King's Hawaiian; Mattel, Clorox, and EJ Gallo to come
What was a commonality between all the companies you visited? All the companies that we’ve talked to for marketing are very open and friendly, and have a collaborative company culture. They definitely value cross-functional team work and do everything they can to make sure their MBA interns/hires succeed in this kind of environment. It was also very interesting to hear all of the companies talk about so much about the consumer and how marketing is a balance between art and science to use creative ideas and quantitative data to meet consumer needs.
What was something unexpected or surprising that you learned on your trek? I learned that marketing is at the center of many of these companies, what they call the "hub of the wheel." Marketing really drives strategy and determines the kinds of products to develop, products to reinvent or renovate on, and positions the products and the company. At a smaller company like King's Hawaiian, the marketing team gets to own and be involved in all aspects of the marketing strategy and tactics, from new product development to being an extra in a commercial for the company.