Josephine Manlangit (MBA ’17) is challenging the assumptions she had going into business school and finding that the experience has changed her perspective. Not only have classes, extra-curricular activities and friendships with classmates opened doors, they have broadened her perspective and helped her hone new skill sets.
What was the transition to business school like? How does it feel to be back in school?
The transition to business school was both overwhelming and gratifying. The transition really occurs at all phases of the process.
The application process was a time for self reflection. I thought critically about how to bring my career and personal aspirations to fruition. When I was accepted, it felt like I had finally caught what I have been chasing for so long. Everything was surreal and felt slow, then fast like a hand-drawn moving picture book. From celebrating with family to saying goodbye, to packing my life into boxes, to driving from Montreal to North Carolina, to the first pizza eaten on my dining room floor, to walking into the Business School, to the rush of students filling in the auditorium of empty seats at orientation. That was when it changed.
The curriculum moves fast, and it is sink or swim. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, I was taking midterms and then finals. The transition has truly been a ride. It feels empowering to be a student again and to invest in my mind and my education. Looking back over the last few months, it is amazing to measure the amount that I have learned and grown.
What’s an assumption you had about business school that you were right about?
It was important for me to further develop both my community and corporate leadership presence in business school. I thought that an MBA would give me accelerated opportunities to bring both my personal and career aspirations to fruition.
In just four months on campus – and with the help of the Career Management Center – I had the chance to explore different career possibilities through participating in student-run career clubs, attending at on-campus company presentations and networking events, and attending career conferences.
There are a plethora of companies that believe in the power of the MBA and want to give students the opportunity for real career leadership experiences. From a personal and community leadership perspective, there are a million ways to get involved on campus and to give back to the community.
In the early part of my MBA journey, I’ve joined the Alliance of Minority Business Students (AMBS) as the learning and development liaison, where I helped organize the Inside UNC Kenan-Flagler Preview Weekend for prospective students, shared my story at the Race Matters panel and organized recruiting events for students on campus.
What’s an assumption you had about business school that you were wrong about?
Given the magnitude of the goals that students seek to accomplish when embarking on their MBA journey, I assumed that there would be little time for fun and friendship in business school.
It is true that the rigors of the coursework coupled with the pressures of career recruiting can be overwhelming, but I have been surprised by the moments of happiness and opportunities for friendship that have emerged from these experiences.
Spending late nights studying and taking a break for sandwiches and tea at the stroke of midnight is the perfect way to make a friend. Being there the moment your classmate lands an interview and having the honor of the first congratulatory hug is a memory. These moments are the intangible part of the MBA experience that I didn’t account for when I considered attending business school.
What have you learned so far?
I spent my pre-MBA career in retail management and focused primarily on the execution of different strategies at the ground level. While I gained a great foundation in general management, the core curriculum at UNC Kenan-Flagler has rounded out my thinking of business from a ground-up to a top-down point of view.
Everything during the first module of school was a new learning experience for me. I’ve been exposed to thinking about integrated solutions across disciplines such as finance, accounting and marketing, while also having the opportunity to delver deeper into each subject.
How would you describe UNC Kenan-Flagler to others?
UNC Kenan-Flagler is a big family. People are warm, but it’s also challenging and competitive in a way that inspires you to be your best self without crushing the next guy.
I have been blown away by the support of my classmates, alumni, faculty and staff on campus. Second year MBA students really invest in the success of first years by taking on leadership roles in career clubs, volunteering their time to mentor first years and just providing an ear to listen.
UNC Kenan-Flagler alumni are outstanding, and they come back to campus to assist with recruiting. I have cold-called alumni who spent an hour giving me the inside scoop about the recruiting process and the particulars of career opportunities that delve deeper than just the job description.
The program offers the best of both worlds – intimacy from the MBA program’s smaller cohort size of and the overarching feel of a big college with the history of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the oldest public university in the U.S.
What’s been your favorite class so far?
I loved the data analytics and decision making class taught by Tarun Kushwaha. The class is challenging and moves at lightning speed. It has really empowered me to pose important questions, support my arguments and make decisions based on data.
Our first assignment was to analyze the sales of all tablets on Amazon.com over a 24-week period and make an integrated suggestion on how to increase the sales performance of Dell’s tablet category. We also learned how to utilize data to make impactful and effective visualizations. I can see how the skills developed in this class will be of use in my future career. I love it.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of business school?
My classmates. Many of our lectures are case-based, so there is an opportunity to learn from the perspective of different individuals in the classroom.
My favorite moments in class are when students share their perspectives from different industries or life experiences to approach a problem. I get to learn about my classmates, and I am developing an arsenal of perspectives that I can bring with me to the business world. It is a true pleasure to sit in a room with people who are intellectual, accomplished and interesting.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to navigate?
The biggest challenge for me has been time management and learning how to say no. There are so many opportunities to get to know new people, learn about an exciting career or just explore Chapel Hill.
The coursework ramps up quickly, and it is difficult to find time to dedicate to the learning aspect while investing in career, club and social activities. It also becomes challenging to maintain healthy personal relationships.
I don’t think there is a perfect system for managing time as an MBA student, but I have worked on it by getting comfortable with saying no and letting go of the thought of disappointing others when I decline an invitation. I have also made clear expectations of time allocation during group meetings, and I stick to my budgeted time for different assignments.
What opportunities are you most excited about?
I am really excited about the case competitions I am participating in – the Business Technology Club’s Cisco Case Competition and the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC). I wanted to gain exposure to new topics, and case competitions are an exciting way to do it.
I am also helping plan a fundraising talent show with AMBS, which benefits the Global Scholars Academy (GSA), a non-profit charter school in Durham. Our goal is to donate $5,000 to GSA. I am excited to help create a legacy of giving through student involvement.
I am also looking forward to my summer internship as a summer associate in the investment management division at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco. I can’t wait for the new career experience and the opportunity to learn from such a prestigious firm.
By Cindy Tsai (MBA ’16)