Holy cow, what a whirlwind weekend! It feels like I’ve been immersed for a week when really it was within 34 hours. Amazing what you can pack into a day when you need to.
Thursday I left work at 3 to make my flight to LA. My mom picked me up, we had dinner, and then I prepped everything for the next day and went to bed. I got up at 9 on Friday, got ready, and headed out to campus. They put me up at the Radisson right across the street from the business school, so I parked there and walked over. It was a lot closer than the lot on campus that others were coming from, and thank goodness since I was running late.
GWiB (Graduate Women in Business) had put together a lunch for the women admits, so we got a chance to bond before the official event started. We met and got on a bus that took us over to the JW Marriott by LA Live, where we had a lovely ladies’ lunch. I got a chance to speak to a variety of MBA Ambassadors, admitted students, staff, and faculty. Check out some of the food they fed us as we got to know each other and hear more about their Marshall experiences.
Afterwards, we chatted as we waited for the bus to get around some protests (about Trump, I think?) that were blocking some roads. I had completely forgotten about the guys, so when we got back we suddenly infused them with a different dynamic and then we were off and running, melding into a class.
Back at Popovich, we checked in, got our name badges and gift baggies, and headed upstairs to listen to deans and professors and staff and students share a breadth of knowledge. What struck me the most as I sat there listening was the energy, personality and presence that each speaker had. I loved the vibe from them all and really enjoyed hearing from each of them. I liked them all!
At that point we were so engrossed in it all that we hadn’t even checked out what was in our gift bags! We had pulled out the schedules they had prepared for us, but the rest remained a mystery (for me at least) until I got to the club fair. Turns out we had padfolios with the Marshall brand on them, a pen for notes, sunglasses, all the info we needed for the weekend, and – my fav – a Tile! I shouldn’t have been surprised that they branded it USC Marshall on one side.
After many hours of talks, we headed out on the lawn to the Club Fair where I got a chance to catch up with three current students I knew from completely different parts of my life. I learned about some groups I might want to be a part of and met some truly awesome and helpful people. From there, we were ushered over to the University Club for dinner. I got roped into sitting at a consulting table by two ambassadors. I probably would have gone to the high tech table otherwise, but I wanted to keep an open mind to consulting. During dinner, members of the marching band came in to play tons of songs.
To wrap up the night, we went over to the campus pub/bar to socialize and I met some more great people there. Most folks seemed to have decided on attending Marshall already, but a few were still considering other options. I found we kept asking each other, “Are you committed?” As for me, yes, I am. I was committed in my mind, but had not yet submitted the deposit (which I just did now that I’m home). I’m glad I already knew, so there was no pressure to choose and I could dive right in to the culture and student body that I was encountering. Upon getting kicked out at closing, we wandered our ways back to our hotels/homes and settled in for the night.
Lest you think that was it, it was only the start of homework time! We had been given a case study to read and prep for. On Saturday, we’d go over it and discuss with a professor just like in a class, so we had to be prepared. I sat in bed reading it until I fell asleep and went a little cross-eyed. I believe I woke up about 20-30 minutes later so I could finish my reading and get to bed. By then it was sometime after 1:30. For no apparent reason, I woke up at 4 (perhaps I was on east coast time). Then at 5, a bird outside my window was going crazy warbling for half an hour before finally flying off. I woke up a few more times before it was time to get up at 7.
I got ready for the day and met up with everyone else over at Popovich for breakfast and socializing. The March of Dimes was happening on Figueroa, so the road was closed (but thankfully not to pedestrians). A ton of cop cars were milling around waiting for the event to start. Meanwhile, we finished breakfast and split up into two groups, Gold and Cardinal, to hear alternately from alumni and recruiter panels (everybody they brought in were Marshall alum, a testament to the strength of the network). After that, we found our assigned small groups of about 4-5 to discuss the case study before meeting with all the Gold folks and being led through the case by a professor.
Lunch was an In-N-Out truck where I was probably the only person to get a grilled cheese sandwich. We ate and met more people, then went back in to start a team challenge with our small groups. One of ours went MIA, but we pushed on. There were two consulting/strategy questions, two marketing questions, and two finance questions. I was very little help with finance, sort of knew about consulting, and contributed decently to marketing. Our teams had be assembled with a variety of backgrounds to help us tackle the different challenges. Thankfully, our finance guy who went missing made his way back to us before the competition was over.
Once our answers were submitted, we went on a campus tour and answered quiz questions on an app. Most of them consisted of choosing which company had the largest market cap. For example, between Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and CVS. Or between Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, and something else. Then there were questions identifying world and business leaders like Angela Merkel, Tim Cook, and the like. And your typical quiz questions about terminology. With 92 questions, we were pretty focused on getting through the quiz and didn’t see too much of the campus. We did manage to check out Heritage Hall (sports hall of fame for Trojans) and the athletic area, as well as the film school.
The final thing before wrap-up were sessions on topics related to our desired industry of work, living in Los Angeles, the first year experience, financial aid, classes, case competitions, etc. We could rotate a total of 6 times, choosing the topics that most interested us. I ended up spending an hour at the HR/Human Capital Consulting one! I was super interested in learning more and each of the ambassadors there had great stuff to share with me, so I got totally engrossed. Then it was the home stretch, with a summary, announcement of the team challenge winners (and notable mentions), and a final look at what Marshall has to offer.
Buuuut that wasn’t the end of it! There was dinner afterwards, at Mrs. Fish in DTLA. We had the place booked from 6-9 and had food laid out as well as plenty of drinks for everyone. I was very surprised when I ran into the fourth person I know in the class of 2017! That rounded out my time there, meeting everyone I knew AND making a ton of new connections. I got a chance to meet yet another new set of people there that night. It’s amazing how many people I met and remember, yet how many I have still yet to speak to. I’m excited to see everyone again at orientation and really get to know each of them.
This entire time I really felt in my element. Ever the business-minded folk, we were all chatting non-stop. These people take networking seriously! That energy lasted the entire time, with clusters of people chatting whenever we had a break. I tried to meet as many people as possible yet still remember who I was interacting with. It’s crazy that I already feel close to some of them and totally see us hanging out in the fall! I was so busy the whole time that I didn’t checked the time or my phone for hours. I hardly even paused to take photos, which is why I have so few (compared to what I’d normally have). I loved that we could strike up a conversation with literally anybody and count on each other to do the same. After all, we’re here to build lifelong friendships and cultivate strong relationships professionally too. I’m finally surrounded by people who speak my language and can geek out with me on business trends like nobody else in my life would. 🙂