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Student Perspectives

Master of Science in Marketing

Our MS in Marketing students come from many different backgrounds, but share a common goal of acquiring the advanced skills needed to enhance their current and future careers in marketing. In our ‘Student Perspectives’ profiles, we explore both current student and alumni perspectives on choosing to pursue a specialized Master’s degree at USC Marshall and the overall impact of our program.

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Maya Maniktala

Class of 2019
Public Relations at Peridot Consulting

“I thought that I would pursue an MBA, but came across the MS in Marketing program and realized it was exactly the degree that I wanted to pursue.”

 

Hometown
Los Angeles, CA

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior

Undergraduate
University of Southern California, BA Communication, Class of 2012

Where do you currently work and what is your current position?
I work in Public Relations at Peridot Consulting, a boutique restaurant PR firm based in Los Angeles.

What is your previous work experience? 
After college, I pursued entertainment and worked in corporate communications at United Talent Agency. Afterward, I switched over to the restaurant industry where I handled the operations and communications for Chef Josiah Citrin. There are a lot of similarities between entertainment and restaurants/hospitality, so it was a natural transition.

Why did you choose the MS in Marketing program at USC?
It was ultimately an easy choice. I spent a few years weighing what type of graduate degree I wanted. I thought that I would pursue an MBA but came across the MS in Marketing program, attended an information session, and realized that it was exactly the degree that I wanted to pursue. I was drawn to the course curriculum because it has a wide variety of marketing courses focused on strategy, analytics and consumer behavior. Full-time students can finish the program in a year, and part-time students can finish it in two. This was particularly appealing to me, because I knew I wanted to continue to work while in the program.

How have your classes at USC affected your work? What have you put to use so far?
There are a lot of real world applications in my courses. We spend time talking about current events, and have the opportunity to hear from great guest speakers from global companies. The restaurant industry is incredibly volatile, especially in a city like Los Angeles. Restaurants are constantly opening and closing, so it's important to pay attention to market trends. My classes have helped me think more clearly and effectively at work. For example, when dealing with restaurant operations, it's important to think about the supply chain, target market and consumer preferences. When handling marketing, it is important to think about app integration and loyalty programs. I have tools that make me better equipped to make smart decisions. 

How do you manage your time effectively, working full-time and attending class part-time?
I write things down more frequently. I have always been one to keep track of things somewhere in my brain, but I can't live that life anymore. I make a schedule and prioritize my tasks each week. 

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
Attend an information session either in-person or remotely--it's a great way to hear more about the program, ask questions, and meet current students and professors. 

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
I love that there are a bunch of different neighborhoods, cultures and cuisines. I have lived here my entire life and still have much more to explore! 

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Michael Burns

Class of 2019
Special Activities Coordinator at The Walt Disney Company

“Be ready for your life to change. I experienced two different universities before coming to the MS in Marketing program, and nothing compares to USC.”

 

Hometown
Boise, ID

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior & Graduate Certificate in the Business of Entertainment

Undergraduate
Boise State University, BS Political Science, Class of 2010

Graduate
Concordia University Irvine, MBA, Class of 2015

Where do you currently work & what is your position?
Special Activities Coordinator, The Walt Disney Company, and Production Intern, Red Wagon Entertainment

Why did you choose the MS in Marketing program at USC?
I chose the MS in Marketing program because of its diverse course offerings. I really liked all of the opportunities to learn about different industries. The opportunity to learn from industry professionals was also a huge point of interest; none of the other programs offered such a diverse group of guest speakers.

How do you manage your time effectively, working full-time and attending class part-time?
It’s a healthy balance of setting aside specific time slots to make sure that I am able to focus on school. I also set aside my days off of work to focus on school, coming to campus to study and read. It’s definitely a sacrifice, but worth every minute.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
Be ready for your life to change. I experienced two different universities for my undergraduate studies and MBA before enrolling in the MS in Marketing program, and nothing compares to USC. Research and understand the culture, what it means to be a Trojan, and how being a part of this program means you’re truly a part of a legacy.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
My plan is to secure a role in either franchise or brand management at a major motion picture studio. My goal has always been to work in film, and after graduating I plan on obtaining that first step in a long career in the world of entertainment.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
My favorite thing about Los Angeles is the culture. There are so many amazing things to experience here, whether that’s catching a play at the Pantages Theatre or seeing John Williams conduct a live symphony orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, LA has so much to experience and the entertainment culture can be found everywhere.

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Pippa Bowen

Class of 2018
Digital Account Manager at ESPN

“Sitting next to other MS in Marketing students and feeling the passion in the room is infectious. You’ll never want to leave the classroom.”

 

Hometown
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior

Undergraduate
California State University, Long Beach, BS Business Administration, Class of 2012
Major: Marketing, Minor: Communication Studies

Where do you currently work and what is your position?
Digital Account Manager, ESPN

Why did you choose the MS in Marketing program at USC?
When I decided to pursue a business degree, I knew I wanted to stay local to Los Angeles. I looked at many MBA programs in Southern California, but when I came across the MS Marketing program at USC I fell in love. I knew I wanted to continue working in marketing, and it made sense for me to drill down into the subject rather than take a more generalized MBA approach. I had already taken finance, accounting, and other general business courses in my undergraduate studies. This program better fit my needs and I felt it was a better use of my time.

How have your classes so far at USC affected your work? What have you put to use?
My manager, colleagues, and I often discuss the case studies from my classes. It’s nice to step out of the ESPN bubble and bring a different perspective to discussions. I’ve applied a lot of the frameworks we learn in classes to our company initiatives.

How do you manage your time effectively, working full-time and attending class part-time?
It’s difficult, but definitely doable. Organization and time-management are key. I set time aside every week for any outstanding assignments or projects and lean heavily on Google Calendar and Docs to keep me organized when I’m on the run. Right now, I’m working full-time, attending class part-time, serving on the Advisory Council as Career Development Chair, serving on the Graduate Women in Business Council as VP Marketing, and planning a wedding. Needless to say, my calendar is booked solid and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
If you can attend an information session and/or class, do it! Sitting next to other MS Marketing students and feeling the passion in the room is infectious. You’ll never want to leave the classroom. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, too. When I applied I had coffee with current students to learn more about the program and it was invaluable when making my decision.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I would like to continue working in entertainment and eventually make my way over to theatrical or home entertainment marketing for a major studio.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
The food in Los Angeles is amazing. New York and Chicago may have us beat on pizza, but the diversity of the population here means you can get a variety of amazing meals any day, any time. Mexican and Thai are my personal favorites. There’s even a club at Marshall dedicated to food called MarshallEatz!

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Jackie Liu

Class of 2018
(Former) Senior Account Executive at Era Ogilvy PR

“USC provides not only a highly diverse student body, but also abundant school resources and countless events to help me thrive in this big family.”

 

Hometown
Taiwan

MS in Marketing Track
Analytics

Undergraduate
Fu Jen Catholic University, Advertising & PR, Class of 2014

What were you doing before you came to our program?
I worked as a Senior Account Executive in Public Relations for around two years. The PR industry is diverse and full of challenges every day, which fits my personality of embracing confrontation and challenges. Daily work at Era Ogilvy PR firm included strategy development, event planning and execution, and media relationship cultivation, which intrigued me a lot, as I was able to immerse myself in diverse industries and help my clients solve problems through strategic PR plans. Part of my major responsibilities also required me to cooperate with different partners in marketing, advertising and media planning firms, so I learned a lot of different marketing perspectives.

Why did you choose the USC MS in Marketing program?
After realizing the power of marketing tools such as PR, advertising, and social media, I wanted to learn more about marketing, branding strategy, and data analytics. Data-driven processes have profoundly impacted the marketing industry in recent years. The USC MS Marketing program provides solid learning experience for those who want to dive into deeper knowledge of marketing, data analytics, and strategy. Also with the strength of the Trojan Network, I think the USC marketing program has a great networking environment which will lead us to career success in the near future. The application process was not easy since we were requested to give insights into a marketing campaign. During the application process, I reflected about my personal motivations to study in the marketing program and the expectation of the learning experience. The interview with Dr. Badame and Shirin provided me with better details of the program, which convinced me this was the right path to pursue.

Of what you’ve learned so far, what has stood out to you as the most profound?
Data analytic tools, such as SAS, R and Python, are very useful in this stage as marketers nowadays need to learn how to interpret data and extract valuable information at the same time. Working in groups for data analysis projects helped me build these crucial abilities and learn how to cooperate with peers with different backgrounds and expertise.

How do you manage your time effectively, with such a busy schedule?
The schedule of graduate students is insanely busy, as so many things are going on at the same time. I always use Google calendar to manage my career activities and social events, so that I can use my time efficiently.

What kinds of skills are you developing from our program?
In our marketing program, students have the chance to function as a team. Such collaboration provides valuable learning experience from peers with different backgrounds and expertise.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
Embrace EVERYTHING in your life and Fight On!

What is your experience as an international student at USC like? How have you found a sense of community?
As an international student at USC, I value this precious learning experience. USC provides not only a highly diverse student body, but also abundant school resources and countless events to help me thrive in this big family.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
Marketing Strategist is my most preferable job, as I would like to analyze data and develop strategies to drive marketing sales and help brand growth.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
I love the vibe, people, and food in the city. The LA vibe is very chill, and people here are very friendly. It is easy to make friends with people with different backgrounds. If you are a big foodie, you will definitely love the city as much as I do. LA is a paradise for amazing food, since you will have food from every country and most of them are tasty!

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Vigneshwar Narayanan

Class of 2018
(Former) Marketing Content Producer at Freshworks Inc.

“My USC application journey was anything but ordinary. I took my admissions interview at 5 AM, amidst one of the worst hurricanes my city had witnessed in 100 years. At that moment, I knew how much I wanted to get into USC Marshall’s MS in Marketing program and how much I valued it over my other choices.”

 

Hometown
Chennai, India

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior

Undergraduate
Anna University, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015

What were you doing before you came to our program?
I was working as a Marketing Content Producer in Freshworks Inc., leading the video marketing and production function as part of a product marketing team.

Why did you choose the USC MS in Marketing program?
USC’s MS in Marketing program was meant to be. My USC application journey was anything but ordinary. I took my admissions interview at 5 AM, amidst one of the worst hurricanes my city had witnessed in 100 years. At that moment, I knew how much I wanted to get into USC Marshall’s MS in Marketing program and how much I valued it over my other choices.

Having worked in the field of marketing for two years, my passion for the subject had grown immensely and I wanted to learn the science behind marketing from one of the best business schools in the world to climb the higher rungs of my professional ladder. I chose USC over several other admission and scholarship options I had, for its curriculum, opportunities in LA, USC’s alumni network, and the warmth and support I received from the program’s director and assistant director during the admission process.

Of what you’ve learned so far, what has stood out to you as the most profound?
I’ve been on a steep learning curve since I joined USC Marshall, not only with respect to marketing but on so many counts. While my major learnings have been in the field of marketing, the one learning I hold with highest regard is time management. The program’s pace can be overwhelming and to stay ahead on all fronts, I learnt to manage my time effectively with multiple tools and conviction.

How do you manage your time effectively, with such a busy schedule?
In addition to being a full-time student, I am also a teaching assistant for an MBA marketing management course and I help out the MS in Marketing program with video content production. To stay on top of things, I use a multitude of online and offline tools ranging from Google Calendar, Keep, Trello boards to Post-its. But, all these tools are pointless without the conviction to work hard and the passion to learn from the best minds at USC Marshall.

What kinds of skills are you developing from our program?
One of the skills that I have developed and cherish is learning to collaborate with people from different nationalities towards a common goal.

What is your experience as an international student at USC like?
USC Marshall has been very inclusive of people from different nationalities, and the fact that a lot of my best friends here are from the US and China is a testament to the Trojan legacy of inclusivity and diversity.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
Among the plethora of skills that a prospective student needs, the most important is the willingness to work hard no matter what. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and when it comes to graduate school, the going is always tough and only the tough go on.

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Cynthia Chaidez

Class of 2019
Retail Marketing Coordinator at GUESS Inc.

“Marketing is both an art and a science, and oftentimes marketers forget about the science or the quantitative side. Through my classes at USC, I have been able to better deliver creative campaigns at work with strong supporting quantitative reasoning.”
 

Hometown
San Jose, CA

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior

Undergraduate
Loyola Marymount University, Communication Studies, Class of 2011

Where you currently work & your current position?
Retail Marketing Coordinator at GUESS, Inc.

Why did you choose the USC MS in Marketing program?
Initially, I thought I was interested in USC’s MBA program until I landed on the MS Marketing page. After getting more information about the program from the website in regards to the curriculum and specialized tracks, I knew that this would be the best program for me. I then attended one of the information sessions to learn more about the students interested in the program, and to learn more about the type of student the program was looking for. The program is highly specialized in marketing and I really wanted to refine and hone in on my marketing skills to take my career to the next level.

How have your classes so far at USC affected your work?
I have three MS Marketing classes under my belt: I recently completed Marketing Management, Communication Management, and Business Analytics. These three classes, while different, reinforced the importance of being a prolific reader and staying up to date with current trends. Marketing is both an art and a science and oftentimes marketers forget about the science or the quantitative side. Through these classes I have been able to better deliver creative campaigns at work with strong supporting quantitative reasoning.

How do you manage your time effectively, working full-time and attending class part-time?
Time management, planning ahead, checklists and a can-do attitude. I am at work starting from 8AM – 5PM, then take 2-3 evening classes. I use every hour of the day to the best of my ability, including my lunch hour. After my first semester I have a better grasp on how long it takes me to complete certain assignments which helps with my planning. Also, having a can-do attitude helps especially on nights when I am tired or have a lot of work. I push through it and get it done, it's possible to work full time and be a part time graduate student.

What kinds of skills are you developing from our program?
Creativity, collaboration, and strategy. During class discussions and small group breakouts my classmates and I think creatively to solve real world problems in businesses and organizations. We ideate, think outside of the box, apply marketing frameworks learned in the classroom and provide strategies and measured objectives on how those strategies can be met.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
Be passionate about marketing, get real life work experience in the industry before applying, attend an information session, and reach out to students currently in the program.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
My hope is to produce and create meaningful marketing campaigns that empower people, spark movements and ultimately bring self-confidence and brand loyalty to the consumer.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
There are so many things that I love about Los Angeles; diversity and culture is something I really appreciate about this city. Los Angeles has so many different enclaves and as a result of all of the diversity there is always something to do, discover, and/or someone to meet.

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Sruti Chatterjee

Class of 2018
Graduate Marketing Assistant at USC Marshall

“No matter what stage of your career you are in, apply to this program if you understand what marketing is and you are truly passionate about marketing. You can’t be a good marketer through the virtue of elimination. You’ve gotta really love this stuff. :) ”
 

Hometown
Mumbai, India

MS in Marketing Track
Analytics

Undergraduate
BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore, Engineering, Class of 2012

Graduate
Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, MBA, Class of 2014

What were your personal and professional motivations to join the USC MS in Marketing program?
After getting an MBA degree, I worked for a couple of years with a major media firm in India. I started off in a sales role and eventually moved on to being a Product Manager of one of India’s largest news dailies. Here, I learnt a lot about content creation, marketing of a product, building a brand, etc. I was pretty satisfied with my job and did have ample chances to grow and build a career in India, but working in traditional media was increasingly making me realise how technology was impacting all traditional businesses and how consumers were moving to digital platforms to get their news. I also noticed that most people spoke of digital marketing and data analytics, but very few knew what these truly entailed and how to use best use them to customise services and maximise one’s revenues. I figured it was time for me to go back to school and sharpen my technical and analytical skills. The fact that a school like USC Marshall had a graduate marketing program that was flexible and allowed me to take on analytical subjects was a big motivator. Being on the west coast, so close to some of the most innovative companies, doesn’t hurt either. :)

How have your classes so far at USC compared to classes you took during your MBA?
A big area of concern for me while selecting my classes was that I didn’t want there to be an overlap with what I had learnt during my MBA. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened at all, primarily because the curriculum across classes is super relevant and current. Our faculty members have extensive experience working in the corporate world, and they actively consult with companies that are relevant to us, so we end up learning about what many companies are doing in real-time. At the same time, I have chosen several analytics electives. I have noticed that it always comes up in conversation with potential employers or people from the industry and is viewed positively.

How do you manage your time effectively?
This semester, I have four very demanding classes. I also have a part-time job with the university that I have to devote significant time to. Along with this, I also have to spend time preparing for recruiting and attending networking events. And then there are things that I do for myself, like reading or travelling or learning a new skill. So I constantly have a minimum of 10 things on my to-do list, and I find myself running around all through the weekdays and weekends. But I am very aware of the fact that I have taken a huge step by quitting my life, as I knew it to be, and coming here and starting from scratch. So this year is a make-it or break-it kind of a year. If anything, I have learnt to enjoy my busy schedule.

What kind of soft skills/attributes is the program helping you develop?
Collaboration is something that you’ll always end up learning at a business school because you’re given so many group assignments and tasks. Also, our class has students from about 7-8 countries. Naturally, each of us communicates and thinks differently. I think the program helps you accept and appreciate each other’s differences.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
No matter what stage of your career you are in, apply to this program if you understand what marketing is and you are truly passionate about marketing. Marketing isn’t a standalone business division that comes up with catchy slogans or jingles. Marketing is about knowing your business in and out, knowing your consumers in and out, and then being able to extract value out of your business for your consumers. I often hear people say: “I came into marketing because I don’t understand numbers”. I think that is a pretty poor reason for choosing a career in marketing. You can’t be a good marketer through the virtue of elimination. You’ve gotta really love this stuff. :)

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I hope to work for an internet based company or a technology company. Let’s see how that goes. Fingers crossed.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
LA is a city with character and I just love that. It has this cool, chilled out vibe to it with the sun and the beaches and the palm trees. And the city has so much to offer every day. It’s tons of fun.

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Tyler Emery

Class of 2018
CEO and Founder, Reign Media

“I credit the program with developing my marketing skills to the point where my average client stays with me for seven months.”

 

Hometown
Hermosa Beach, California

MS in Marketing track
Consumer Behavior emphasis and also earning a graduate certificate in Business Analytics

Undergraduate
Loyola Marymount University, Bachelor of Business Administration (Entrepreneurship major), class of 2016

Where do you currently work and what is your position?
I'm the CEO and founder of Reign Media which is a global integrated digital marketing firm with over 400 clients in over 50 industries. We transform companies into brands through results-driven digital marketing. I am also a digital marketing consultant for one of USC Marshall's Centers of Excellence, the CTM (Center for Communication Technology Management).

What were your personal and professional motivations to join the USC MS in Marketing program?
After studying all aspects of business as an entrepreneurship major and a successful entrepreneur, an MBA didn't appeal to me. I knew that specializing in marketing would ensure that I will always have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be an extremely successful consultant and entrepreneur in a globalized world.

How have your classes so far at USC affected your work? What have you put to use?
‘Sales Management: The Art and Science of Sales’ and ‘Negotiation and Deal-Making’ courses have allowed me to increase my clientele by over 300 within 5 months through building rapport and adding value to my clients. My marketing courses have increased my ability to significantly scale my clients brands as I implement relevant and innovative consumer-centric and analytically-backed marketing strategies. My Data Analytics strategy courses have allowed me to compete using analytically informed strategies that prescribe action rather than simply justify it. Lastly my consumer behavior, internet marketing, and marketing analytics courses have allowed me to leverage behavioral targeting on organic and paid social media marketing in order to increase my average client’s sales by over 200%. I credit the program with developing my marketing skills to the point where my average client stays with me for seven months.

What kind of soft skills have you developed over the course of the program?
I came into the program with exceptional presentation, communication, leadership, and collaboration skills. The program has not only refined and optimized those skills but more importantly has significantly enhanced my critical thinking and problem solving skills both qualitatively and quantitatively. I have also grown tremendously as a global marketer because of the diversity in the classroom which leads to the most enriching learning experiences from fellow students.

What are some of your favorite aspects about the program?
As an entrepreneur, I couldn't imagine a better Masters degree for me to earn. I'm developing an extremely rigorous understanding of all areas of marketing as well as how to apply these marketing principles in the global economy, adapting cross-culturally. From the brilliant, accomplished faculty to the diverse, highly driven student body this program has allowed me to grow immensely as a marketer within weeks of my first semester. I did an integrated strategic marketing plan (ISMP) on a premium designer tip jar powered by LED lights I helped launch in my marketing management course! Additionally you are able to choose electives from other world-renowned colleges on campus. I chose to take classes in Negotiation and Deal-Making, Sales Management, and Entrepreneurship! For students who value unparalleled career services, the MS in Marketing program at USC Marshall not only has the connections, but they also know exactly how to teach students about optimizing their resume, interviewing skills, and negotiation skills!

USC Marshall has asserted its dominance among the top business schools in the nation for many years. With the MS in Marketing program entering its third and fourth year, USC Marshall will continue to scale their sustainable competitive advantage with respect to rising in national and global rankings in upcoming years. The caliber of the students, trojan network, and faculty is simply incredible!

How do you manage your time effectively, working full-time and attending class part-time?
I make sure to always stay on top of assignments and projects by working on them daily when I finish work. The Marshall curve makes it extremely hard to earn As so it pushes you to adopt a competitive mindset which is the reality of the world all of us students are entering. I always strive to consult with my Professors and push myself to do the highest quality work I am capable of.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students?
Attend an information session, make yourself known, and if you are lucky enough to get a chance at an interview make sure to follow up with a thank you note. This program will definitely be amongst the top ones in the country and the admissions standards are only increasing. This means you will need significant letters of recommendation, a stellar GPA and GMAT, and need to position yourself to the program in the right way. Position your resume and application in a way that demonstrates your immense passion for marketing. Remember this program is one of the most competitive in the entire nation (and even world) so make sure to give it your all and think about how you can differentiate yourself in meaningful ways.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
Continue to add significant social and economic value to the world through entrepreneurship. I aim to earn the privilege of being on Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 list. I also aim to scale Reign Media’s revenue to $1M in the next year or two to be on the Forbes Agency Council. I plan on being a serial entrepreneur and management consultant specializing in digital marketing for my entire life.

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Victoria Alonso

Class of 2018
Social Content Strategist, Disney Digital Network

“My classes have affected my performance at work mostly in the perspective they have given me. I’m able to think differently when I walk into a meeting. I better understand how the accomplishments of my team and I affect my business unit and Disney as a whole.”

 

Hometown
Sacramento

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior

Undergraduate
BA, International Relations, Global Business with a Marketing track; Spanish Minor, USC 2013

Where do you currently work and what is your position?
Disney Digital Network, Social Content Strategist

I strategize content and facilitate the content creation process and design programming strategy for Disney mobile apps that promote studio and Channel priorities.

What were your personal and professional motivations to join the USC MS in Marketing program?
When I graduated from undergraduate I thought I wanted to go to law school to build on my International Relations degree and work for a non-profit or NGO. Basically I wanted to help people and save the world. After countless LSAT practice exams and some soul searching I realized being a lawyer wasn’t my calling. I got a job of a buyer at the Jelly Belly candy company. I had to work with their marketing and retail groups to design and buy branded merchandise. In this role, I realized that the creative and analytical aspects of branding and marketing interested me much more than law. The more marketing jobs I took, the more I learned about opportunities in the field. To advance in my career, I wanted to gain as many marketing tools as possible to hone my areas of strength and bolster areas of weakness. Although I was interested in getting an MBA, I knew I wanted as many marketing classes as possible out of my degree. USC’s MS Marketing degree was the perfect fit!

How have your classes so far at USC affected your work? What have you put to use?
My classes have affected my performance at work mostly in the perspective they have given me. I’m able to think differently when I walk into a meeting. I better understand how the accomplishments of my team and I affect my business unit and Disney as a whole. One of the best experiences where my school and work life have collided was at a brand voice training with everyone from Disney’s Digital Network. We spoke about Disney’s various digital brands, target audiences, and messaging. I felt like I was back in the Branding Strategy class, listening to a brand architecture lecture being applied directly to my work. It was both inspiring and humbling. Working for a company like Disney, you have access to some of the most valuable IP in the world. This program has strengthened my skills and ability to bring the magic of Disney into consumers’ everyday lives.

What is your favorite class and why?
Anything taught by Dr. Badame is a class I would 100% recommend. Her classes are both academically challenging and intellectually stimulating. She brings guest speakers who are top marketing executives across various fields. The amount of critical thinking, creativity and mental energy that you put into every assignment can be taxing, but it makes turning in the final product extremely rewarding. She will push you to work hard and you will learn and grow so much in the process. Some of my favorite classes of hers include Fashion, Luxury and Lifestyle Marketing, Branding Strategies, and CMO on Shareholder Value.

How do you manage your time effectively amidst studies and work?
It’s definitely a challenge. I reduced my work hours when I started this degree and I am lucky enough to have the flexibility to work remotely a few days a week. Creating a schedule and sticking to it is key. When I feel overwhelmed I try to break up tasks into smaller pieces and assign timelines or due dates to each piece which makes it feel much more doable.

What kind of soft skills is the program helping you develop?
Based on the nature of the program and classes, you will be forced out of your comfort zone, but these are the best opportunities for growth. You will be randomly called on to share your thoughts in a lecture, you will present group and individual projects to the class, you will collaborate with diverse groups and create some amazing final products that you can be proud of. The best thing about this program is that whatever skills you need to work on, there are resources there for you. All you need to do is ask. There are data analytics workshops, social events and clubs, networking opportunities, Trojan Talks, interview prep groups, Lunch and Learns with executives about various industries. The resources are all there for students to take advantage of.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students?
My advice is to get experience before you go to business school. Working full time gives you a different perspective as well as experience that you can draw from and bring to class discussions. Your degree becomes that much more valuable and your recruiting opportunities will only improve with work experience.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
This is something I think we all are trying to figure out in the process of completing this program. I’m passionate about creating experiences that connect with consumers at an emotional level. I want to work for a brand that facilitates those experiences and fosters brand loyalty. There are so many ways to accomplish this through branding strategy and positioning, social media, advertising, and CRM.  I’m definitely interested in working for a customer-centric CPG company and I want to work in a strategic capacity where I’m able to think critically about customer needs, and how a brand and product can fulfill that need.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
My favorite thing about LA is being close to the beach (although I don’t go as often as I would like). Growing up in Northern California, when we went to the beach we would wear jackets and pants and never go into the freezing cold water. The best days in LA are when the sun is out and you get all your friends together for a beach day. It feels like you’re on vacation but you’re only 20 minutes from home.

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Jingwen (Barbara) Wang

Class of 2018
(Former) Senior Market Researcher at TNS

“During the transformation of my career, I needed some guidance in building up solid and systematic knowledge in marketing. The USC MS in Marketing program is a great fit for me.”

 

Hometown
Qingdao, China

MS in Marketing Track
Analytics

Undergraduate
Fudan University, Sociology, Class of 2013

What were you doing before you came to our program?
I was a senior market researcher at a global research house. I did three years qualitative market research before I came to the MS in Marketing program. The work was both intensive and exciting. I travelled around China and conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with various kinds of consumers, to understand their psychological needs and behaviors. All these efforts are to solve clients’ business questions such as brand positioning, branding strategy, segmentation, understanding purchasing triggers and barriers, etc.

Why did you choose the USC MS in Marketing program?
I’m very proud of what I’ve done as a market researcher, but being a market researcher is not my goal. My career ambition is to be a market strategist, translate consumer understandings into holistic, practical and efficient business solutions. Research is fundamental to marketing, but I hope to stretch my career path to a higher platform. During the transformation of my career, I needed some guidance in building up solid and systematic knowledge in marketing. The USC MS in Marketing program is a great fit for me. First of all, it is a one year program, compressing most marketing disciplines into very well-designed courses. If one wants to have development in the marketing field only, this MS program would be a better fit than a general MBA. Secondly, in this program I have the flexibility in selecting many unique elective courses - include courses in the cinema school and courses in business analytics. These options helped me to learn many more new things and glean knowledge from other areas. Thirdly, being part of the Trojan family is great. This program provided many opportunities for us to meet mentors from large companies, and mixers for us to have fun together with classmates. Last but not least, LA is fun!!

Of what you’ve learned so far, what has stood out to you as the most profound?
I’ve learnt so many new things and many of them are profound to me. I was a qualitative market researcher, but in this program, I have learnt data analytics skills which gave me a new way of solving marketing problems. Although there is more to learn, I have a solid foundation that has enabled me to start thinking in different ways. This program also enhanced my understanding of marketing: marketing is not just about selling a product and generating profits. It’s also about understanding people, making an impact, and brings positive power to people.

How do you manage your time effectively, with such a busy schedule?
A one year program is indeed busy. Sometimes we are so occupied with assignments, projects, job hunting, and internships, and we also crave plenty of time to explore LA (of course!). Time management is kind of the first lesson we need to learn. The first day when I started school, I prepared a half-year calendar in an Excel sheet. In this sheet, I highlighted my goals of each month, course list of each semester, and key events and dues in each week. This method helped me arrange my time better, and encouraged me when I felt lazy.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students and future applicants?
Aim high, think big, have passion, and love what you do. We have heard these things over and over again. These words are inspiring, but the key thing is if deep in your mind you have the strong desire of being the best, being on the top, and if you are determined to pay your efforts to achieve it and earn it, you will. When you apply for a Master’s degree, ask yourself about these things so you can get the most from this program and really propel your personal development. Life is short. Fight on!

What is your experience as an international student at USC like? How have you found a sense of community?
The MS in Marketing program is like a family! All of us got to know each other during summer time, and became good friends. Later on, events, mixers, projects, and other activities brought us closer. We share information by email, Whatsapp and Wechat… I never feel alone on this campus!

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
Be a market strategist or consultant. I love the feeling that people can tell me about their marketing issues, and I’m able to solve them by gathering resources and data and providing insights. I also hope to be a coach within a company, helping it to train more young marketers.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
The food! Many Chinese and Korean foods are even better here than in China.

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Christa Eduafo

Class of 2018
Market Research Intern, Lieberman Research Worldwide

"I think the biggest thing my classes at USC have given me in terms of the workplace is confidence. Though I don’t have a marketing background, I was able to step into my role at my current internship with tons of confidence that I would be effective as a market researcher based on what I had learned in all of my classes."

 

Hometown
Columbus, OH

MS in Marketing Track
Consumer Behavior

Undergraduate
BBA with a major in Marketing, The Ohio State University, 2016

Where do you currently work and what is your position?
I currently work at Lieberman Research Worldwide as a Market Research Intern

What were your personal and professional motivations to join the USC MS in Marketing program?
After graduating from OSU, I worked as an assistant merchant for a retail company I was very passionate about. I really loved that role and all of the hats I got to wear, but I kept noticing that my favorite meetings were the ones with the marketing team, particularly the customer insights meetings. As I noticed how energized I always felt after those meetings, I started to wonder if marketing was a better fit for me than merchandising. Additionally, with the retail world being as tumultuous as it currently is, I found myself getting really frustrated not being able to help shape the way we were speaking to our customer. I was constantly thinking of things we could’ve done to improve this campaign, or that promotion, and I realized I was often getting more excited about these ideas than the tasks of my own merchant role! I knew I didn’t yet have the expertise necessary for the types of marketing jobs I wanted, (especially since most of my professional background was in merchandising) and I knew I wanted to work in marketing. So I thought a specialized master’s program that was dedicated to developing my skills as a marketer was the best choice! These specialized programs are fairly new, but USC’s MS in Marketing program truly impressed me from the day I began researching. The curriculum was perfectly in line with what I wanted to gain expertise in – a very well-rounded combination of analytical and creative marketing courses. Additionally, I knew the career opportunities available to me through the connections I would make within the Trojan family would be impossible to replicate elsewhere. Once I interviewed with USC, no other school was able to convince me that they would help me achieve my career aspirations better than USC could!

How have your classes so far at USC affected your work? What have you put to use?
I think the biggest thing my classes at USC have given me in terms of the workplace is confidence. Though I don’t have a marketing background, I was able to step into my role at my current internship with tons of confidence that I would be effective as a market researcher based on what I had learned in all of my classes (like Consumer Behavior and Business Analytics). That is really invaluable to me because it would be so difficult to really make an impact if I was constantly questioning what I really knew about the subject, but the curriculum at USC has definitely made certain that I would not feel that way in new roles.

How do you manage your time effectively amidst studies and work?
I actually find that the busier I am, the better I stay on top of my various responsibilities! I am a full time student and I work 3 days a week, so it does get difficult sometimes, but having a routine helps a lot. I always make sure to plan ahead so I know when all of my assignments are due, and that helps me organize how I can most effectively spend my days off from working to keeping up with my schoolwork. Planning ahead is key! Giving myself some days to breathe and relax is also VERY important. I try to plan ahead well enough that I’m able to give myself those mental health days without feeling guilty.

What kind of soft skills is the program helping you develop?
I’ve really learned so much in terms of teamwork at Marshall. My classmates are brilliant and talented and collaborative and helpful and I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by a better group of people! I’ve learned so much about other perspectives because all of us have such diverse backgrounds, both personally and professionally. I’ve gained the confidence to be pushed by my peers instead of feeling intimidated or competitive because of the open classroom environment. Critical thinking sounds like such a buzzword but I truly can’t say enough how much my critical and creative thinking skills have improved since beginning the program.

What advice, tips, or words of wisdom do you have for prospective students?
You are choosing a school that fits you, just as much as schools are choosing you! Reputation is important (and USC Marshall has an incredible one), but don’t let that cloud your ability to critically evaluate each program and what it can do for you, especially as you get through the interview process. I chose USC because of the feeling of genuine excitement I felt after my interview. I would recommend pinpointing those attributes that are most important to you (this is the market researcher in me talking), and rating your options on those attributes to find the best fit. At the end of the day though, following your gut is always a good choice. Also, don’t let the average GRE/GMAT test scores freak you out. They are only meant to give you a little context, not discourage you from applying to great schools! Good luck!

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I’ve always been passionate about social media, and since the starting of the program I feel like I’ve really found my niche in marketing research and analytics. After graduation, I am hoping to work as a social content/social media analyst so I can use data to help brands pinpoint how best to use social media to foster online community growth and brand loyalty.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
I love to dance, and the dance community here is absolutely incredible. I’m taking classes from choreographers that I’ve been watching on YouTube for years, with the same dancers that inspired me to start dancing in the first place. It’s surreal and awesome.

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Lusiana Susilo

Class of 2017
International Research Trainee at Sony Pictures

“The year I spent pursuing the degree was one of the best years of my life. I thank the program for giving me a new dream to pursue and the skills that I require to achieve it.”

 

Hometown
Solo City, Central Java, Indonesia

Undergraduate
University of Melbourne, Marketing and Accounting, Class of 2013

Current Position
International Research Trainee, Sony Pictures Television Research Department

What did you do before attending USC?
I was a Product Manager at Rainmaker Labs.com, building and marketing Mobile Marketing Automation and other mobile marketing solutions

Why did you choose the USC MS in Marketing program?
I am passionate about entertainment and technology, so I was looking for a reputable school in Los Angeles in particular. On top of this, I was looking for a master's degree in marketing. After working full time for two years as a Sales Consultant and Product Manager at a mobile solutions company in Singapore, I realized that I needed to expand my knowledge in marketing. USC’s MS in Marketing came on top.

How did the program help further your career? Did you learn skills that you have been able to apply to your current position?
A year ago, when I was still pursuing the degree, I interviewed past students and current students as a part of my experience as a Graduate Assistant for the Masters in Marketing program. One thing was repeated in every interview: USC’s MS in Marketing program is an eye-opening experience. I could not agree more. It really opened my eyes and gave me a bigger picture in relation to a business challenge. Further, the program gives me a solid foundation and framework in approaching business problems. The skills that I learned helped me in analyzing every single problem that comes my way in my work. Before pursuing the degree, I was also a problem solver, but after the degree, my problem solving is much more structured, analytical, and results-oriented, and I am equipped with skills and credibility that make it easier for me to convince others and communicate solutions to them.

Who were your favorite professors and why?
Dr. Badame, because she cares about our learning and well-being. Next, Prof. Gene DelVecchio. I have never taken Prof. Gene's class, but together with Dr. Badame, I consider them my mentors. Last, Prof. Anthony Dukes. Prof. Dukes taught marketing analytics and put emphasis on students really getting/understanding the concepts and its applications. Further, Prof. Dukes is perhaps one of the nicest human beings! After encouraging us to join the Marketing Analytics business competition in Winston-Salem, he helped us with our airplane ticket's cost (out of his personal pocket).

How did our program help you grow personally?
The one year I spent pursuing the degree was one of the best years in my life. It was the most productive year in my life (so far). I stepped out of my comfort zone repeatedly. I thank the program for giving me a (new) dream to pursue and the skills that I require to achieve it. That said, there's more to the program than just the skills and knowledge. Because of the program, I met my mentors for life, supportive and reliable friends, inspiring executives and people I look up to.

Looking back on your time at USC, what would you have done differently?
I achieved what I wanted prior to coming to the US to pursue the program, and before starting the summer semester, I had goals: I wanted to be the Valedictorian and graduate with a perfect GPA, and I wanted to work on top of my studies. Other goals included forging relationships with inspiring executives/people who can be my mentors for life; someone to look up to and ask for advice when I need. I achieved all of them. I do not think there's anything I would have done differently. I really did my best during that one year I pursued my degree. I have no regrets.

What are your best memories from your time at USC?
It's group discussions that I had with my classmates. We always met an hour or two before classes to discuss group projects. I love the opinions we shared (which really enrich my knowledge), and the laughs we shared. It's at USC that I realized how much I love group work because I know I have friends who will complete tasks assigned to the highest quality and within the due date. My most memorable group projects would be the group projects where we were allowed to choose our own company/organization to analyze. My group chose to complete our projects on my business idea, and I am really honored that they opted to do our projects on my idea. To share my idea, to work on it, to hear feedback, it was one of the best memories I had. At the time, I really felt supported by my friends.

What advice do you have for prospective students and future applicants? Who should apply to this program?
Make the most of what's offered by the program. If you have passion for marketing or marketing curiosity, you should apply. Further, I believe that the program will be more meaningful and eye-opening if you have work experience, especially in marketing. I can relate to the business cases, discussions, and I know which skills/knowledge would help me (or be applicable) in what I want to do and achieve. Pursue the program with intentions, goals, and objectives. I believe if you know what you want, you will make the most out of the program.

How was your experience as an international student at USC? What advice do you have for prospective international students?
I don't think my experience in terms of USC experience is any different than local students pursuing the MS in Marketing degree. I made the most of it and had a really great time. My experience in terms of securing a job is the one that I believe is different from locals. As an international student, there's a huge obstacle that we have to go through in order to secure a job. You have to be liked well enough, perform responsibilities better than everyone else, etc. Please network. Be brave enough to reach out to executives, and educate yourself in your area/industry of interest.

What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
There are a lot of things happening in LA! If I want, almost everything is within my reach. It's really a different feeling from when I was living in Indonesia, Singapore, or Australia. I just feel "I can do it" here in LA. The right people are here, the right facilities are here.

3 words to describe your MS Marketing experience:
“More Than Education”

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