By Ana Claire Mancia, Haas School of Business Class of 2019
This article is intended to provide advice regarding how to approach the Haas undergraduate admissions process, and simply regards what mentality to hold. There is no formula for Haas admission or secret to getting accepted. While acceptance is never guaranteed, this advice is meant to assist students in understanding the frame of mind that is useful when applying.
What is business?
You could give me the UGBA 10 textbook definition, that business is making profits from selling goods or services. However, business goes far beyond that definition. Before you apply to Haas, it is important to have a clear understanding of what business truly means to you. It has different meanings for each person, and your interpretation should be unique. It should be reflective of your interests and accomplishments.
Business, at its core, is about taking risks. The greatest business leaders of our time would not be there, if they hadn’t taken a risk. Business means not being afraid of the unknown, and abandoning your fear of failure. The entire Haas application process teaches you the first lesson about business; taking risks. You have to take 7 prerequisite classes just to apply, and you’re not even guaranteed admission. That means 7 difficult, extra classes you must endure and it is most certainly a risk. You must be willing and ready to take this risk in your life. You may be completely blind to it – but by participating in this 2-year-long application process, you are learning the first lesson about business.
A defining pillar of Haas is to “question the status quo”. In order to challenge the world around you, you must take risks. Haas seeks students who view the world as malleable and who can confront the status quo around them. Learn to be comfortable with failure, and figure out how you can change the atmosphere surrounding you. How will you be a leader and advocate for the things that matter to you?
My second lesson is to be different. You do not need to join business clubs or have internships in order to be a strong candidate. In fact, my advice is to pursue anything you are passionate about. Find what makes you unique, and continue building it. Your passion does not need to be business related. It’s harder to get accepted if you are very similar to your peers, so distinguish yourself as much as possible. Haas looks for people who can bring diversity of thought to the table. Success is NOT the regurgitation of what everyone else is doing. Haas prefers people who are different -- people who have decided to create their own path. If your application is exactly like your peers’, how are you going to stand out? Remember that there is immense value in being an independent person.
My third lesson is that business is all about seeing problems, and turning them into opportunities. Entrepreneurs are people who recognize problems and figure out how to sustainably and effectively solve that problem. They are not like normal people, because instead of seeing problems as something “bad”, they view them as incredible, great opportunities. Try to apply this theory in your own life, and see where you can transform problems into solutions.
Lastly, remember that success is never linear. Success is not the same for every person. Success may not be what you thought it was originally. Your definition of success is always changing. I know plenty of people who lived and breathed pre-Haas their freshman year…and by sophomore year realized they didn’t even want it in the first place. They didn’t end up applying, because they were happier somewhere else. Haas is not everything, and Haas is not for everyone. Be true to yourself and understand what you want.
For more comprehensive advice regarding the Haas undergraduate admissions process, please check out: https://advicefromahaasmajor.wordpress.com/
By Ana Claire Mancia
I am nineteen years old and manage a swim lesson company in Los Angeles. For the past several years, I have helped develop the company and watched it grow into a large organization with thousands of clients. I currently handle many of the company’s operations, especially in the summer when our work schedule is extremely busy. We have about 10 employees who teach swim lessons, and I supervise our program.
Learning to be taken seriously as a young female is one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned. I remember attending my first business conference, to network and speak about the company. I didn’t entirely know what “business casual attire” meant at 17 years old, since our company’s uniform was a swimsuit. I put on a regular, colorful dress and drove to the conference, not expecting that I would be the only person under 25 and clearly not dressed for the occasion!
When I spoke about our organization to a large room of people, I knew they viewed me as a young, inexperienced kid who was in the wrong place. It was definitely a cringe-worthy morning. What bothered me the most however, was the amount of professional men who sat next to me afterward and said things like:
“You’re very pretty.”
“How old are you?”
“Do you actually run a swim company?”
“Are you single?”
I left the conference embarrassed and angry that I hadn’t been taken seriously. Meanwhile, I was watching my company expand and our revenue nearly doubling each year. I quickly learned from that experience, and vowed to always be taken seriously.
Three years later, I know that as a young female, you must always be 10 steps ahead of everyone else. When people question you, you must be ready to prove how knowledgeable you are and convince them to trust you. You must exude capability and confidence, until people actually believe you.
"You must always be 10 steps ahead of everyone else."
Unfortunately, there is very little room for mistake in my role. If I do something incorrectly, it is much harder to recover from it. I have learned to be twice as careful as a man would be, to always make sure there are zero errors.
Our staff respects me because I value them and treat them with respect in return. I try very hard to always treat them as my equals, by taking their suggestions into account and giving them freedom and flexibility in their teaching style. I see my role as just making sure each day runs smoothly, because I trust them to deliver good service to our clients and do their job correctly. Our mutual trust has been crucial in terms of maintaining a strong relationship.
My job has gotten significantly easier as time goes on. Our clients and partners have learned to take me seriously and respect me. The amount of times my authority is questioned has drastically decreased.
This shift in attitude occurred because I am now extremely conscious of how I present myself, and how I speak. As a young female in charge, it is important to know every detail of your company because skeptics will almost certainly quiz you. They are searching for proof that you are capable of being a professional leader. Learning to shut them down has been thrilling.
"I am now extremely conscious of how I present myself, and how I speak."
I am proud of how much the company has grown, over the past five years. In the summer, I usually work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, because there are so many clients and not enough employees. We continuously need to hire more staff, and obtain more pool space. After teaching swim lessons, I am at my computer for hours, processing invoices, sending emails, calling clients, booking people, and creating schedules. Though this sounds like a nightmare, I sincerely enjoy it because we have taught thousands of children to swim in LA County. Drowning is still the leading cause of death for children in California.
In conclusion, young female leaders must always be ahead of the game. With the odds stacked against us, we are forced to overcome distrust, skepticism, objectification, and disrespectful treatment. I pushed through it by becoming as educated as possible. I am not afraid to show my authority, and prove my ability to operate a company. I pay attention to every detail, and search for errors. The company requires an enormous investment of my time – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.