It has been two weeks now since the end of the first year of the USC EMBA program. Now that I’m on Summer break I have time to reflect on the past year. Here are my quick thoughts on various areas of the experience.
The academic workload was much more than I expected. We had massive amounts of reading assignments and projects to work on. I expected the project workload, but I didn’t expect the reading workload. The two week workload consisted of 50 to 200 pages of reading with homework assignments and projects.
The guideline they give you is 20-30 hrs per week of homework & school related projects. That is pretty accurate. There were moments during Themes II and III where I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Thank God for my study group, otherwise I’m not sure I could have made it through the 1st year.
One of the main reasons I selected USC was for the Trojan Network. On the West Coast of the United States, the Trojan Network is well known and formidable. I tested the network early on and it exceeded my expectations. I met with various alumni & faculty who helped me connect with other alumni who could help me with personal & professional advice. Every person I spoke with was very friendly and accommodating. They offered great advice and perspective that would have been very difficult to find on my own. Those experiences are priceless and the best part is that it doesn’t end even after graduation. Once you are in the Trojan Family, you are a member for life…..as long as you don’t do anything to mess it up.
Another great experience is the depth and breadth of experience within my EMBA class. We have a diverse group of professionals from various industries and backgrounds. We’re not too competitive with one another and will do anything to help each other through tough times. Everyone has respect for each other’s expertise and the bond we’ve formed is immeasurable.
Application of Knowledge
I have been able to apply the knowledge I’ve gained from every subject to my everyday professional and personal life. This is one of the biggest benefits of the program for me. To be able to take the concepts, techniques, strategy, and processes and enhance my business or area of responsibility makes me confident that I can achieve the lofty goals I’ve set for myself. The program has provided me with a framework of knowledge and a set of skills to be able to draw from in various circumstances.
Quality & Accessibility of Faculty
Our professors are subject matter experts with real world experience to draw from. I had great conversations after class or at lunch with many of the professors and have gained insight into various aspects of the subjects that we’ve covered. I am very impressed with the accessibility of each of the faculty members. Emails, phone calls, and requests for meetings are responded to very quickly.
Recommendations for New EMBA Students or Applicants
Over the past 9 months I’ve been contacted by many people seeking more information about the program and insight into how to prepare or what to expect from the program. The following a collection of random thoughts based on these conversations. If you are interested in applying for the program or are attending soon, I hope this helps you out.
- If you are married, make sure your Spouse understands the commitment required by the program. If you don’t, you could have major problems after the program begins. Having the full support of your Spouse will make this a much better and richer experience for you.
- If you are attending the program in the Fall, don’t worry about “trying to get ahead” and studying ahead of time. I recommend spending the time before the school year with your family. You won’t have much time to spend with them during the school year, so make it count when you can. If you’re single, do something fun and get it out of your system…..those late night party weekends and hanging out with your friends are over during the school year.
- Attend an Information Session, 99% of your questions will be answered during that session. If you attend the session, make sure to ask questions before you leave the session; Keith, Anastasia, and Tim are great resources and will have the answer to all of your questions. Also, plan to stay after the session and attend a class for a little while….it will give you some perspective on what to expect.
- Come into the program with an open mind and don’t get caught up in being the top of the class or having the best grade. I know we are all competitive, which is why we’ve chosen to join a program like this, but don’t let that get in the way of the other aspects of the experience. It’s not only about the academic knowledge.
- On class weekends, tell your Spouse that you will be staying after class to network with your classmates. If you set this up before the program starts, it will make it easier for you during the school year. The sessions after class is where you really get to know one another and form strong bonds that last a lifetime. Spend as much time with your classmates as possible. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
- If you have to ask “Why USC?”, then you probably don’t belong in the program. For me, USC was my first choice and I don’t regret it.