Alicia Brown earned her degree in December 2012 from Mihaylo College’s Flex MBA program and just landed a new job with Mattel as a senior internal auditor. She recounts the route she took to get to where she is today and shares valuable guidance for students seeking to further their education.
Brown graduated from Azusa Pacific University with an accounting degree. She worked for almost three years as an auditor with a local CPA firm before moving to Disney where she was a senior financial analyst for two and a half years. Although Brown was happy in her position, she knew that in order to move up within the company, she would need to pursue a CPA license and an MBA degree.
Brown’s career path took another turn when a previous manager from the CPA firm recruited her to be finance director at a local college. Even though Brown’s new position did not require an MBA degree, she decided to pursue it nonetheless.
“I thought that at some point in the future it would be of great value to me,” said Brown. “This was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
She left Disney in June 2010 and began her MBA program at Mihaylo in August 2010.
As things often happen, Brown’s career path shifted through the course of her program. She participated in the International Business Seminar where she had her first international business experience.
“I visited several international companies including Ernst & Young Paris, the United Nations Office in Paris, Lloyd’s of London and the New York Stock Exchange in Paris where I got the chance to ring the closing bell!”
While at CSUF, Brown competed in several finance competitions. She describes both the Association for Chartered Growth (ACG) Cup Competition and the LA/OC Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge as intense, but she is grateful to have had the opportunity to represent CSUF Mihaylo.
Brown also learned two important things about herself through participating in the two competitions. “I really enjoy being on teams and I like building financial models and conducting financial analysis/investigations.”
Through her finance competition experiences, Brown realized that she wanted to pursue a job where she could apply her MBA degree in an international setting.
With a lot of soul searching and prayer, Brown spent the summer of 2012 discovering how she wanted to put her MBA degree to use. To help choose the best career path, Brown attended networking events, worked on her resume, and met with family, peers, and CSUF professors.
Brown especially advises graduate students to maintain connections with professors, administrators, and fellow graduate students.
“I have been fortunate to meet many individuals during my MBA career who have played a huge role in my personal and professional development. When I knew I was ready to start applying for jobs, I reached out to several professors and peers to get their advice and assistance in preparing resumes and cover letters.”
Brown decided to pursue a career with an international Fortune 500 company because of the potential growth opportunities and collaborative team environment.
Brown shares the importance of networking and attending Mihaylo Graduate Career Development Events for current MBA students. If she could do anything differently, she said she would have participated in the MBA Association at the start of her MBA program and would have attended more MBA events. One event Brown claimed to be of most value to her was the LinkedIn for Professionals workshop.
“This session was very informative and the speaker gave great tips on how to use LinkedIn to prepare for interviews and to gain insights on companies with which you may be seeking employment.”
During her most recent career search, Brown zeroed in on Mattel by setting up Google alerts and filtering through new job notifications from several websites. After applying directly online and interviewing with Mattel, she was hired as senior internal auditor.
“I really respect the company’s engagement in global sustainability activities and its commitment to corporate responsibility, and, because I had a couple of Barbie dolls at one time in my life.”
For graduate students in their first semester, Brown recommends being strategic about their MBA career and taking time to analyze their strengths and areas for improvement.
“It is important to get good grades and develop technical/managerial skills,” said Brown. “However, if you do not work on your soft skills – networking and interpersonal communications – while you are in school, then you have missed out on the whole point of going to business school.”
Lastly, Brown recommends volunteering with professional organizations and staying optimistic.
“Due to the current economic environment and high level of competition, it can be challenging to find the right internship. However, persistence and perseverance will pay off.”