As of this writing, I will have completed five (out of the six) quarters of study required by UCLA Anderson (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile), including the Applied Management Research project, a 20-week consulting gig performed in groups of four to six students. This afternoon, my team and I presented our final recommendations to our client. I am satisfied with the work we produced, but I believe the program fell short of its promises. My main disappointment is in how it was organized; I believe AMR can benefit from a drastic reduction in its timeline.
In speaking with my peers, I learned that some believed the projects they worked on could be completed in one quarter and not the two quarters currently allotted to the program. I agree. The main benefit of a shorter timeframe is that it would force student teams and clients to focus on the assigned task, eliminating any opportunities to be inefficient. To make this possible, however, some school policies would need to change. For example, UCLA Anderson would need to encourage students to take fewer or no classes in the same quarter that AMR happens. Currently, students take three classes in addition to AMR. If AMR were the sole focus of students' attention, students could even work on-site with the client to foster a more realistic consulting experience.
Hints for Incoming Students
After five quarters of study and AMR, I can say that I am a better manager of my time than when I first began business school. Here are some hints for incoming students, especially those who have been away from a classroom for more than three years:
Prioritize your classes. You don't have to be a rock star in every class—just those where you know you have a competitive advantage over your classmates.
Control your stress levels by planning for weekly activities that help you forget about school. For me, this was going to the gym or enjoying a good meal at my favorite restaurant.
Focus on one task at a time. Self-explanatory.
Develop routines. The sooner you can accomplish this task, the easier it will become for you to establish predictability. Also, there is a degree of comfort and security in knowing when things will happen.
In the next and final quarter, my focus will return to the job search. I am considering expanding my job search to new sectors, mainly strategy and/or operations. In the last two quarters of study, I have focused my studies on these two areas, learning the art of helping a company (including a school district) understand the process of formulating strategies to reach company goals.
In addition to the job search, next quarter I will take four classes, including one course in advanced strategy analysis and another entrepreneurship course titled "Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation." This is the last in a set of entrepreneurship classes that teach students how to start, develop, and grow a new enterprise.
Now that AMR is completed, I should have more time in my schedule to enjoy my classes and look for a job. I expect a great deal of work will get accomplished in my last quarter, leaving no time for senioritis to set in and take over.