Top 11 Things I’ve Done While at UCLA Anderson

Mircea Vlaicu ’15, Content Strategist, Intuit, reflects on his FEMBA experience. In his own words:

20150604 Mircea Vlaicu 15 linkedinAfter 3 years of personal and professional growth, graduation for me personally is a bittersweet moment. What I will miss most is the collaborative energy, where your friends congratulate you for quitting your job and are always willing to help. And while I’m sure not everyone has had the same experience as me or comes away with the same feelings, it’s a place I will dearly miss.

For the last few weeks while walking to class I’ve found myself looking up at the angled Anderson buildings, red brick set against a late afternoon blue sky, trying to etch the feeling of walking to class in my memory. As I look up I remember coming into the program with one goal: to take advantage of as many opportunities at Anderson as I possibly could. And I’ve squeezed a lot out of the last 3 three years.

Here are 11 of the best things I’ve done:

  1. Vistage (next year known by another name): I’ve tried to evangelize this program as much as possible to anyone who would listen. It’s you and 14 other students, both Full-timers and FEMBAs, with a group mentor. Once a month on a Friday you meet at a company and sit down with a founder or CEO to talk about their company and career. Our group went to many companies, including Stone Brewery in San Diego.

But wait… it’s wayyy more than that. As a small group you get to bond with these amazing 15 other people on a level you will never be able to in class. You’re not there for a grade, you’re there because you interviewed and your mentor has decided that you are interesting enough to add value to the group. For those staying on at Anderson, join the EA and look out for the email in the fall (it’s easy to miss).

  1. GAP: Do you know what happens when you’re stuck with four other people for six months working on something really intense? Personal growth. On top of that, as long as you’re not the a#$hole who doesn’t do any work, you make some very close friends. Word of advice: You will eventually get mad at someone in your group, but remember that you have no idea what they’re dealing with outside of GAP. Communicate and be understanding.
  1. What Happens Outside of Class: For me, the value of Anderson was everything that went on outside of the classroom, whether it was a speaker event, the Knapp competition, or just walking down the hall and stopping to ask someone what’s new. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot in class, but my experience was shaped by all the opportunities that Anderson provides.
  1. The Friendships: It’s easy to leave Anderson with a lot of acquaintances. Try to leave with at least a couple of truly close friends. Vistage and GAP help.
  1. Learned How to Ask Questions: My wife said I’ve gotten a lot better at this. She wouldn’t lie. But in all seriousness, I noticed quickly that the students who knew how to ask good questions formed strong relationships quickly. It’s also called active listening.

Best classes I’ve taken:

  1. Strategy with Ian Larkin: Get to know this man and sit in on one of his classes… He…makes you play chess instead of checkers.
  1. McCann’s Business Presenting: I took it during summer and learned a ton, plus bonded with my fellow classmates because of the small group size.
  1. Ullmen’s Managerial Interpersonal Communication: Don’t let the name dissuade you. Ullmen is a master at creating intimate personal relationships within the span of a conversation. A skill that will pay dividends for the rest of your career.
  1. Business Plan Development with Nathanson: I just like his style. If you are interested in entrepreneurship go and meet this guy.
  1. Tang’s Global Supply Chain: A great teacher who will definitely not waste time being politically correct. You’ll laugh a lot and learn a lot more. He should be back next year after being gone for a year.
  1. Culbert’s Class: He teaches a couple of classes. I took Motivation, Leadership and Power (or something like that). Not all students will enjoy his style, I still don’t know if I did. But it was the right class at the right time. I was struggling with personal issues at the time and this class helped me challenge my thinking and how I approach my relationships with others.

BONUS: On a personal level, having my son was the best thing I’ve done while at Anderson, although if you can wait I would advise you to do so. While my wife and I didn’t have the luxury of waiting (for personal reasons), and although life certainly did not get any easier after he was born, there is nothing that motivates me more every single day.

To conclude, I want to remind everyone of two things. First, remember that there probably isn’t a door in Los Angeles, California, and maybe the US that Anderson cannot open for you. Second, something Dylan told us during our first day of Welcome Week. “This is your chance to make mistakes. This is your chance in a safe environment, and without any consequences, to do what you want to do, step out of your comfort zone, and grow.”

Dylan’s Note: The above are Mircea’s own words and I appreciate him taking the time to pen them.  To clarify Mircea’s memory of my Welcome Week remarks. School IS a safe place to make mistakes, where students explore new career pathways and can experiment with new directions. The consequences at school are MORE forgiving than in a paid job situation; there are always consequences to be responsible for, of course.

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