First Year Impressions: Challenging Assumptions and Immersing Fully in the Experience

Josephine ManlangitJosephine Manlangit (UNC Kenan-Flagler ’17) is challenging the assumptions she had going into businesses 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 widened her perspective and helped her hone new skill sets.

MBASchooled: You’ve been in business school now for a few months. What was the transition like and how does it feel to be back in school?

Josephine: 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 and to the rush of students filling in the auditorium of empty seats in orientation. This 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 my 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.

MBASchooled: What’s an assumption you had about business school that you were right about?

Josephine: 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. With only four months on campus and with the help of the Career Management Center, I have had the chance to explore different career possibilities through participation in student-run career clubs, attendance at on-campus company presentations and networking events, and attendance at career conferences. There is 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 short time I’ve been here, I’ve been able to join the Alliance of Minority Business Students as the Learning and Development Liaison where I’ve helped to organize the Inside Kenan-Flagler Preview Weekend for prospective students, shared my story at the Race Matters Panel, and organized recruiting events for students on campus.

MBASchooled: What’s an assumption you had about business school that you were wrong about?

Josephine: 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 the 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 the 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.

MBASchooled: It’s only been a few months, but have you learned anything interesting or gained additional knowledge that you didn’t previously know?

Josephine: 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.

MBASchooled: How would you describe UNC Kenan-Flagler to others?

Josephine: UNC Kenan-Flagler is a big family. People are warm here but there’s also healthy challenge and competition in a way that inspires one to be their 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 students really invest in the success of the first years by taking on leadership roles in career clubs, volunteering their time to mentor first years, and just providing an ear to listen. The alumni are outstanding and 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 smaller cohort size of the business program and this overarching big college feel from the history of UNC Chapel Hill as one the oldest public education institution in the United States.

MBASchooled: What’s been your favorite class so far?

Josephone: I love the Data Analytics and Decision Making class with Tarun Kushwaha. The class is challenging and it moves at lightning speed. The class has really empowered me to pose important questions, support my arguments, and make decisions with data. Our first assignment was to analyze the sales of all tablets on over a 24-week period and to make an integrated suggestion on how to increase the sales performance of Dell’s tablet category. We are also learning 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.

MBASchooled: What has been the most enjoyable aspect of business school?

Josephine: My classmates. Many of our class lectures are case based and so there is an opportunity to learn from the perspective of different individuals in the classroom. My favorite moments in the class are when students bring their perspective from a different industry or life experience 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.

MBASchooled: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to deal with so far in business school?

Josephine: The biggest challenge for me in business school is 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 quickly ramps up 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 in declining an invitation. I have also made clear expectations of time allocation during group meetings and I stick to my budgeted time for different assignments.

MBASchooled: What opportunities ahead are you most excited about?

Josephine: I am really excited about the upcoming case competitions I am participating in, the Business and Technology Club Cisco Case Competition and the Venture Capital Investment Competition. I wanted to gain exposure to some new topics and case competitions are an exciting way to do it. I am also helping to plan a fundraising talent show with the Alliance of Minority Business Students for a local educational non profit called the Global Scholars Academy. Our goal is to donate $5,000 to the organization and I am excited to help create a legacy of giving through student involvement. I am also looking forward to my summer internship next year. I will be going to Goldman Sachs in San Francisco to work as a Summer Associate in the Investment Management division. I can’t wait for the new career experience and the opportunity to learn from such a prestigious firm.



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