This post is a part of the Student Perspectives 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.
“Pay it forward…” I’m sure most have heard of the concept. Thanks to Wikipedia (my undergraduate professors would shudder to see me cite a Wiki), I found out that we can trace the concept at least back to Ben Franklin:
I do not pretend to give such a deed; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him.
There are many reasons why I chose to come to Anderson, but while I was working on my application, I don’t think that I fully grasped the importance of the pay it forward attitude here. Throughout this last year, I have been paid immeasurable “Sums” from my fellow Andersonians in the form of help and guidance. This mentality is visible all over, from the admissions process to Bridge Week to learning teams to the sheer number of Anderson alumni who have returned to jobs in the administration. However, the pay it forward vibe resonated strongest for me during my internship search. Three things greatly surpassed my expectations: Anderson Career Teams (ACT), how helpful my classmates were, and the Anderson network.
The helpfulness of the ACT program cannot be overstated. For those who are not familiar with ACT, each year around 70 second-year Anderson students volunteer to coach first-year students (grouped by industry and functional interest) on every aspect of the internship search. ACT groups meet for at least an hour each week, and coaches develop and follow a highly tailored job-search curriculum. Every year, second-year students who have successfully navigated the internship search add and subtract from the curriculum, making the program one of the most up-to-date and relevant career resources I have ever encountered. A quote from my first session of investment banking ACT captures this perfectly:
ACT coaches may not be experts in investment banking, but nobody knows how to get an investment banking internship better than us.
These weekly sessions are just a piece of the ACT program. Coaches also host etiquette sessions, review resumes and cover letters, and importantly, conduct mock interviews throughout the quarter.
Second-year ACT coaches were quite helpful during the internship search, but my fellow first-year classmates were equally as supportive. As I think back to when I was applying to business school, I remember conversations I had with students about the Anderson culture. These students shared with me how collaborative the internship-search process is at Anderson. Honestly, I was skeptical. However now that I am on the other side of the process, what those students told me couldn’t have been truer. A job-search should be competitive, yet at the drop of a hat my classmates were ready to practice “technicals” with me, to share tips and tricks, to make introductions – there is an almost unexplainable collective drive to make sure that everyone secures a great internship. And it worked; my classmates landed at bulge bracket and “elite boutique” investment banks in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.
This type of mentality – a collaborative approach to the job search – is not something that is born overnight. It is clear to me that this has been a key part of the Anderson culture for a long time. I know this, because I talked to A LOT of alumni during my internship search. From the Associate level (the typical post-MBA role) all the way to senior Managing Directors, people were always willing to give advice, to talk about industry trends, even to help me decide which Spring break trek I should join (I ended up in Japan with 170 classmates… highly recommend that trip). At nearly every firm that I went to during Days on the Job (DOJ) visits, Anderson alumni made up a large portion of the office, and the pay if forward mentality was a constant, regardless of their employer or the year they graduated.
Thinking back on the last year, it really is incredible how much help I got from Anderson people who were just paying it forward. I have no doubt though, that these people were only lending those good deeds, and I am excited to have many more opportunities to return the favor next year.
-- Brett Sanchez '19