Today, we have a guest post from Jessica Kimball, Class of 2015 and one of our incoming Consortium students. Jessica recently attended the Consortium Orientation Program (OP) which took place in New Orleans this year. We're fortunate to have a front-row perspective on this amazing experience, so please read on to learn more!
As a native Los Angelino, my first impression of New Orleans after stepping out of the Louis Armstrong airport was, “Wow, it’s hot.” My second impression in the cab to the Riverwalk Hilton with 4 other Consortium Fellows I had met upon arriving in New Orleans: “Wow it’s even hotter here in the cab!” Then, after further introductions with my cab-mates, all thoughts and wonder regarding my Consortium classmates that coursed my mind over the past few months were confirmed: Consortium Fellows are truly brilliant. In our taxi alone, we had two entrepreneurs, one in education and one in tech; a brand manager looking to transition into the entertainment industry; an investment banker; and an electrical engineer whose job description both impressed and confused me, and I still have little understanding of what he actually does other than “working with circuits.” These would be the first of many amazing stories I would get the chance to hear over our five-and-a-half days at the Consortium Orientation Program, known to us students as simply “OP.”
The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is the largest MBA diversity network in the US and focuses on augmenting the number of underrepresented minorities within business. As a half-black, half-Mexican gay woman, the Consortium’s mission is one I value dearly, and yet every portion of OP still managed to challenge me and my classmates and push our thoughts regarding professional diversity even further.
The Diversity Theatre our second day presented an hour-long, interactive workplace skit covering some of the biases and prejudices, both conscious and subconscious, that many of us see every day in the workplace: a female associate promoted over her male peers and their attitude towards her afterwards; an international junior associate called onto an account primarily because of her ability to speak the client’s native language and really not given much other responsibility beyond communication; and even blatant race discrimination and sexism. The audience’s reactions and comments both during and after this presentation showed that even our diverse group of multi-cultural leaders still maintained certain unfortunate stereotypes. When it comes to improving workplace interactions, we all still have a long way to go, but we will get there.
Career services accounts for the other main focus of OP. Our Parker CMC team fully prepared us for OP with a series of webinars, 30-second pitch practice, and mock interviews all in the weeks leading up to OP. Even then, OP was networking and interviewing at the highest level. From the second you stepped out your hotel room door, to the second you returned and shut your door behind you, recruiters were everywhere. We quickly learned to always be on our A-game, especially since we never knew who might be sitting next to us in any of the events. This also means the chances to make a great impression on a company representative are even more varied than usual. I personally started an amazing connection with one of the sponsoring companies by mentioning how much I love my car, which they happen to make. Thanks to our Parker CMC team and the additional career training we received at OP, I feel significantly more confident regarding my networking and interviewing skills, and I haven’t even stepped foot into my first class at Anderson.
At OP, the Consortium Executive Director and CEO, Peter Aranda, often led us in a class chant. He would ask a series of short questions, and we would respond as loudly and resoundingly as we could: “I am proud. I am humble. I am gracious. I will be ready.” Even though our UCLA Anderson Class of 2015 has not officially started class, we can always abide by these words, even now. I am proud to be an UCLA Anderson Bruin, and I know come this September, we will all be ready to begin our MBA journey.
To learn more about the Consortium and its mission, please visit their website.