MBA Journal: Super Senior

MBA Journal: The Real World Is Looming


Last I wrote, I was in a cabin in Tasmania with a German, a Canadian, and a fellow Yank, mere miles (or as they say in Australia, kilometers) away from tiny penguins making their daily journey to shore. Now I sit in my apartment in Santa Monica surrounded by my American classmates, watching The Colbert Report, and if any penguins march up on the beach, we can be sure we have a real problem on our hands. It's a pretty stark contrast, and it has been incredibly difficult for me to wrap my head around. And that's not just because when I flew back to Los Angeles from Melbourne I actually landed before I took off. Who says time travel's not possible? The past two years at UCLA's Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile) have definitely demonstrated to me just how big, and at the same time, small, the world really is.

Now that I've been back for a few months, though, I recognize that the real world is looming. For those like me who are interested in the entertainment industry, it's time to start applying for jobs. Because these positions are filled on an as-needed basis, a company that posts a job now is probably willing to make an offer around graduation in June, so it's time to get cracking.

But before I can devote my full energies to the job search, I suppose I have to fulfill the requirements to graduate. Anderson mandates that its full-time students complete a two-quarter thesis consulting project called Applied Management Research (AMR). I just completed the first half of the project before spring break, and my colleagues who made the foolish decision not to go abroad in the first quarter were correct: The task is time consuming. No matter how much I'd like to regress and give in to senioritis, AMR will not let me do so. Sadly, I can't go into any specific details regarding the project (cue a collective groan from readers), but I can say it boils down to figuring out how best to monetize the Internet, which is totally an easy thing to do, right?

Guaranteed Billions

Besides AMR, the other academic activity that dominated my last quarter was my Business Plan Development class. I never thought of myself as much of an entrepreneur, but when some of my classmates came to me with their idea for a new business and asked me to join their team, I jumped at the chance. Again, I can't go into many details; it'd be foolish of me to just give away, perhaps, the greatest idea since Denny's put a mozzarella stick in the middle of a grilled cheese sandwich. Revealing details would be even more idiotic, because as I learned in the course, almost every business idea is virtually guaranteed to make roughly a billion dollars for its founders.

Joking aside, Business Plan Development was probably the most practical and rewarding class I've taken on the path toward my MBA. Writing the plan forced me to think about and incorporate multiple lessons from almost every class I've taken, though not in a theoretical or case format, but with a real-world goal in mind. Also, the experience was just a blast. We were a group of six who were fully invested in the idea. In fact, it was through this course that I finally pulled my first all-nighter. In college, I was the guy who turned in multiple drafts to the TA and had days to spare when I completed my final draft. Our presentation did not lend itself to that scenario, so there we were at 5 a.m., one person snoring on the floor, another nodding off at his computer, tweaking slides and text, making it just right. I can now say that business school has given me the opportunity to tick off all the items that were remaining from my undergraduate to-do list.

As I'm about to embark on my last official spring break (there is no way more schooling is in my future), there's a lot going on. I'm completing my course load, fixing the Internet for Web publishers, and looking for work. If all, none, or some of those things occur, perhaps I am part of a team with a business idea that will revolutionize the universe (or maybe just the world). So, with 10 weeks left in this adventure, things are a bit daunting, and there's some uncertainty, but there's also that shining beacon of opportunity, and I'll be sure to keep my eyes on that enticing glow.

Jonathan_stern
Jonathan Stern is enrolled in the full-time MBA program at the University of California at Los Angeles' Anderson School of Business with an expected graduation of 2011. Earning his undergraduate degree in U.S. history at Columbia University in 2003, Stern was laid off from his journalism job at MTV Radio in December 2008 while he was already in the process of applying to graduate business school.

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