But for Jazmin, three years ago this was more than just a frustrating fact—it was a necessary mantra. Waking up at five am every morning, she would make the arduous hour-long commute from LA to Riverside to clock in for an unpaid internship at the mayor’s office; a position she funded by working nights at the fast food restaurant, Chick Fil-A.
Reaching a point of extreme burnout, she knew there had to be a better way to get the experience she needed. Which is why she made the decision to pursue an MBA, at UC Riverside Anderson Graduate School of Management.
Despite most MBA programs in the US accepting applicants that average between five to six years' work experience, UC Riverside has an MBA track with no experience requirement at all, meaning Jazmin was able to enroll even with comparatively fewer years on her CV.
Now speaking from a location so classified she can’t even show it on camera, Jazmin credits the program to being able to land her current role as a project manager for Northrop Grumman: the world’s largest aerospace and defense technology company.
But how did earning an MBA help her get there? And what are the benefits of an early-career MBA?
1. An early-career MBA can help you change career path
Before Jazmin even considered going into business, her aspirations lay in immigration law—a field that can be as rewarding as it can disheartening.
“When I was at the mayor's office, I realized that doing politics and being in law was making me upset. It was a lot of saying ‘no’ to people in the community,” she admits.
It was then that Jazmin realized that she could make a positive difference in society by working in a more managerial role.
“I really enjoyed helping small businesses grow,” she says.
Given that she’d completed her undergraduate degree in business at UC Riverside, the school’s MBA program was already on her radar as a viable next step to pick up the business skills necessary to switch paths.
However, she was also swayed by the fact that the program offered a concentration in marketing, an area she was keen to specialize in.
At UC Riverside, students can choose between seven different concentrations—ranging from accounting to business analytics—which allow
s those from a range of backgrounds to explore their other career options.
2. You'll gain managerial experience
One of the standout parts of the program for Jazmin was the independence she had in developing her own leadership potential.
Not only was she free to pick the projects to do on top of her core MBA modules, she was also able to participate as a Student Ambassador, which provided a great way to improve her people management abilities in a less academic setting.
As part of the MBA program, UC Riverside (UCR) students are required to take up an internship with any company of their choosing, which gives them the opportunity to apply classroom concepts to real-world scenarios.
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest managerial experiences Jazmin found was her internship, which she spent working at Disney.
There, she not only gained insight into what it was like to work in HR for one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, but she also learned how to become more assertive in a professional setting.
“I learned how to speak up and say, ‘hey, I'm willing to take more responsibility’,” she explains.
3. Learn from a diverse cohort in your early-career MBA
When David Ayrapetan (pictured right) first graduated from his business undergrad program mid-pandemic, he figured the best way to improve his own career outlook would be to continue on and earn a UCR MBA.
The only thing that concerned him was his own lack of real-world experience when entering the program.
Fortunately, he found that the ability to converse with a cohort of people who had varying levels of experience was something that helped him get up to speed.
“I loved whenever someone with work experience in the class would say, 'Oh, we had something like this issue within my workplace, and this is how we had resolved it',” he says. “It provided a lot of great perspectives.”
4. You'll access higher paying job opportunities
Job hunting is never easy, but luckily for David, he found UCR's Career Development Center to be an invaluable resource in his own search.
Specifically catered towards graduate business students, the center is staffed by a team of experienced career advisors who help with everything from creating resumes, to application advice, to even practicing interview techniques.
This helps UCR MBA grads land roles with top companies each year, including Amazon, Deloitte, and JPMorgan Chase.
“There were so many different resources, both in person and online, that were at our disposal all the time,” David says.
It was thanks to the extensive resources provided at UCR that David was able to land his current role at the multinational geographic information system (GIS) software company, Esri.
Working as an influence marketer, to perform his role he draws on a lot of the PR and advertising classes that he took during his MBA. He feels he wouldn’t have been as prepared for this career path with just an undergraduate degree in business under his belt.
“The MBA puts things into practice and helps you see things from a real business and managerial perspective,” he says.
While embarking on an early-career MBA may be a less common route, it could provide you with the experience necessary to land higher paying roles sooner into your professional journey.
University of California, Riverside
The campus and student life
UCR was unlike any campus I have vistes, the have a rich diverse campus culture that is welcoming and rewarding if you get involved. The faculty staff is super helpful. The school events were always a blast. Parking and dorming are something they could definitely work on.