Tracy Johnson, Jared Rizzo, Leslie Veiga and Shravan Pulijala
From left: UF MBA alumni Tracy Johnson, Jared Rizzo, Leslie Veiga and Shravan Pulijala.

MBAs share their missed opportunities and what you should be sure to take advantage of as a student

Many doors of opportunity open up when you make the decision to pursue an MBA. With so many opportunities available, like classes, professional development programs, and recruiting and networking events, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. To streamline the opportunities available to you at UF MBA, we asked four alumni to share what they wish they would have taken advantage of during their time in the program as well as their recommendations for what you should be sure to be involved with as a UF MBA student. 

Tracy Johnson, MBA ’19, Full-Time MBA

“I wish I had ventured a bit more beyond the recommended curriculum. I think business school is an opportunity to challenge the boundaries of what you already know. You are there to grow as a person and elevate your way of thinking to the next level. Exposure to foreign concepts even though they might not be explicitly connected to your future career will build your knowledge base and contribute to your holistic MBA experience

Take advantage of every social experience you can. I think the people who are drawn to this program are highly driven and motivated and are naturally inclined to want to get the best grade they can in every class. Business school is not only about your academics but about building out a network you can leverage over the life of your career. Reaching out to a fellow alum is a lot easier when you might have spoken to them at one of the many networking events during the course of the year.”

Jared Rizzo, MBA ’17, Online MBA

“Take advantage of the career services programs. I attended the resume workshop but did not attend any other seminars. I also did not go to any career fairs offered. I was not interested in changing companies at the time but would have been so much better equipped to negotiate my role internally with proper mentoring. I have a lot of classmates who went on to find amazing careers through the network and I implore students not to pass up the opportunity to use UF’s extensive resources. It may take a little more time, but your career will thank you in the end.

There are a couple of things I would recommend students take advantage of.

  1. Get to know the faculty and staff. This should be a no-brainer, but it is so often overlooked. You want to have a connection with the professors and MBA staff because they will be more likely to help you in a pinch. Trust me, I’ve leaned on those relationships long after I have been gone.
  2. Build genuine relationships with your fellow students. We have been trained by systematic rankings to perceive everyone as a threat to our status, however, I recommend you put your ego aside and get to know your cohort. These folks can be some of your best friends that you will rely on to be successful during the UF MBA experience. Since I was in the online program, we only met a couple times a year and we had to make more effort to interact with everyone. I would set aside time weekly to hang out with my cohort over skype (long before COVID, I still stake claim that we invented the virtual happy hour). We got to be such a tight-knit group that other cohorts wanted to emulate what we had created.”

Shravan Pulijala, MBA ’19, Executive MBA

“Due to the nature of the EMBA program and the fact that I live in Orlando, I was unable to use campus resources (e.g., Bloomberg lab) to their fullest. Now I wish I had done a full-time MBA earlier in my life.

Today’s managers are expected to be hands-on and expected to be SMEs in their field. So whatever field MBA students are in, I’d recommend they go deep and pay attention to detail.”

Leslie Veiga, MBA ’18, South Florida MBA

“My time in the UF MBA program was incredibly valuable. I am so thankful to have been able to continue my education at the University of Florida, having received my undergraduate degrees (BSJ, BA ‘06) and my first masters (MA ‘08) from UF, as well.

My biggest regret in looking back at my time in the UF MBA program is not taking full advantage of the extracurricular virtual courses offered to us as students that focused on individualized professional development, for changing career paths or growing within an organization.  

My main focus while I was in the UF MBA program was finishing the coursework successfully, while balancing it with my personal and professional responsibilities. While the coursework is at the core of the program, the purpose of the UF MBA program is to build better leaders and managers, and those professional development opportunities are an important part of that as well. I gained so much knowledge and insight from my courses, professors, and classmates, but I do wish I had dedicated more time and attention to completing those offerings. I believe the professional development opportunities would have provided me additional guidance and skills and that the personalized attention and approaches would have further enriched my already positive experience in the UF MBA program.

An important part of the UF MBA program is the people that you meet. Each cohort is made up of people from different backgrounds, age groups, and experiences. I would recommend building and maintaining connections and relationships developed during the program with classmates, as well as UF MBA faculty and program staff. You never know when you may need to pick someone’s mind on a business question, or connect with someone from a different industry, or get a different perspective on something. Having that built-in network of qualified and capable people can have far reaching possibilities. The UF MBA program also provides the opportunity to make some great friends who have shared your same journey. 

I would also recommend taking full advantage of all of the extracurricular opportunities offered by the program; from the more practical end of the spectrum such as individualized professional development courses and attending guest speaker sessions, to the more fun end of the spectrum such as Gator game days, happy hours, and excursions during the international trip. The extracurricular opportunities take a great program to the next level and really enhance the UF MBA experience.”

At UF MBA, the options available to transform yourself are boundless – academic insights from top faculty, engaging professional development programming, unique resources, and networking and recruiting events. Take it from these UF MBA alumni and be sure not to miss out on great opportunities available to you as a UF MBA student.

Ready to open your door to opportunity? Request information about UF MBA today