San Diego is an amazing place. The beaches, the weather, the patriotism, the beer — it truly is America’s Finest City. You don’t need a Ph.D. (an MBA helps, though) to recognize a fantastic possibility when it comes across your desk. Location is a key consideration for prospective students as well.
A business school’s largest alumni network is typically in the city it resides. This is logical, as schools establish deep connections with local businesses through mentor programs, company visits, guest speaker workshops and job fairs. Participation in these events translate to jobs for graduates. As more students cycle through the program, the size and influence within these companies grows and future generations become the beneficiary of relationships established long ago. I want to live and work in San Diego, so I selected the best program in San Diego to attain my MBA.
For students in the Full-Time program, you are encouraged to obtain an internship over summer break. You are treated as an actual employee, and given projects and responsibilities that actually matter to the business. Regardless of the industry or job function, your first year at the Rady School prepares you for any challenge you may be presented. More often than not, internships manifest themselves into full-time offers after graduation. This summer I spent my internship at Cisco Systems in San Jose.
You learn in your core strategy class about competitive advantage, which is essentially anything (technology, location, experience, quality, brand recognition, etc …) that allows you to achieve a superior position over your competitors. Because my end goal is to work as a product or program manager for a science/technology company in San Diego, I wanted my internship to mirror these requirements. I figured I’d stand out over other applicants because I would already have exposure to the roles for which I’d be applying. My time at the Rady School has taught me how to recognize a golden opportunity, seize it and leverage it to your benefit. The offer to join them for the summer was one such example.
After a rigorous interview process, I earned the chance to join a team that utilizes data analysis and strategic thinking to drive operational improvement as a program manager intern. Before I started, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Cisco is a B2B business with a large focus in networking, data centers, communication and security, with its core business being physical products. They are a massive player in the tech space and every major company uses Cisco products. Despite being in an industry I had very little professional exposure to, my summer was amazing and I enhanced my skills, expanded my professional network, and learned new ideas while finishing two projects that will have a lasting positive influence at Cisco.
It would be remiss of me to not give credit to the Rady School for all the success I enjoyed over the summer. From day one I was using concepts and tools I learned in the classroom to help drive my projects forward. Cisco treats MBA interns as consultants. They provide you the raw materials you need, and presume you’ll produce an effective result. Every one of my core classes (especially Professor Nijs’ Quantitative Analysis Class) contributed to making my impact felt, and senior leadership was wholly impressed with the training I received in my first year alone. Rady School curriculum truly produces innovative business leaders that are impactful for their organizations.
I am so grateful for the experience I had at Cisco, and I know that I am a better candidate for any position because of it. That being said, three months was not a very long time to be away, and San Diego was just fine in my absence. I’m looking forward to my final year in the program, and I eagerly await my next professional adventure.
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Theo Constantouros (Full-Time MBA ’17) is President of the Rady Student Board, Head New Student Ambassador, Board Member of the Rady Life Sciences Club, and Co-editor of the Rady Business Journal. He intends to stay in that lovely San Diego sunshine as long as possible, focusing on a career in marketing or operations in a local science and technology company.