Para Sampat- Haas (Berkeley )
Describe a typical day as a MBA student:
My days would often vary quite a bit, but they would usually consist of a couple of hours of class, some time spent on-campus talking and hanging out with classmates, and an hour or two of group projects or club meetings. If you asked me this during first year, I would say that my downtime in between these activities would be spent on recruiting activities, which could be interview prep, researching companies, or talking with alum. At night I would catch up on schoolwork or hang out with classmates, either playing board games (I’m a big fan of board games) or grabbing a drink. One thing to note is that a “typical” day varies so much based on the experience you want to have. Some friends of mine would be interning during the school year so their days would look vastly different than mine.
Where did you work before enrolling in business school?
Prior to coming to business school, I worked in Healthcare and Consulting. I was part of the Redwoods Analyst Leadership Development Program at DaVita, and worked primarily in the Compliance team. My role consisted primarily of data analytics, clinical audits, and improving regulatory processes by collaborating with different stakeholders in the company. After DaVita I moved into consulting at ZS Associates. I worked on a variety of projects, but primarily focused on marketing, market research, and forecasting new drug revenues within the pharmaceutical industry.
Why did you choose this business school?
There are a number of different reasons why I chose Haas, but one of the biggest reasons was the smaller class size. I met many students from different schools while I was applying, and it seemed that the students at Haas were much more likely to get to know more people in their class on a personal level. I’m the type of person who really values relationships and personal connections, and I felt that this type of class size would provide the best opportunity to really become great friends with many of my classmates. Another big reason was my professional ambitions. I knew I wanted to switch into the tech industry after school, and Haas is located down the street from some of the best tech companies in the world. Being able to go over the Bay Bridge for an internship during the school year or to meet an alum at one of these companies is only possible if you’re in this area.
What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school?
I know this is very cliche, but really be true to your story and don’t write something that you think admissions will want to hear. I’ve interviewed at least a dozen applicants and provided feedback to the admissions team on whether they should get admitted into Haas. Interviewers can tell pretty quickly if your story doesn’t make sense or if you’re trying to BS them (it happened way more than I expected). I know it’s a hard process to really dig deep and think about what you want to do (trust me, I’ve been there too), but it will pay off quite a bit when you have to write your essays and interview with the schools later on.
What is/was the most enjoyable part about business school?
The most enjoyable part of business school for me was the social events, and there are quite a few of them. At Haas there is a monthly event called Consumption Function where students and their partners and families come to campus to eat some food and enjoy each other’s company. Often times these functions would revolve around a theme, such as Diwali or Chinese New Year, and many people participate in a choreographed dance. It’s really fun to be a part of that and see how talented your classmates are. There are lots of other social events where we explore the Bay Area, such as Tahoe, Yosemite, and Lake Shasta. Everyone has a pretty busy schedule so sometimes these are the events where you get to know your classmates well.
What is/was the hardest part of business school?
The hardest part of b-school was the first semester. Quite honestly, it’s like drinking from a firehose. Everyone is transitioning from the work life to school life, and there are so many different projects, activities, and recruiting events that are going on. For some classmates who weren’t quite sure what they wanted to do, it’s a quick transition and there isn’t a ton of time to really sit down and think about what you want to do as well (which goes to my earlier point of making sure you know your story and what you want to do!). I had heard this before and I thought I would be fine given I was working in consulting (which has a pretty brutal schedule as well), but b-school is a different kind of busy that I wasn’t used to. Most people adjust and figure it out after some time, but it definitely is a hard transition and you hit the ground running right away.
Where will you be working after graduation?
I will be working at Amazon after school in the Prime / Delivery Experience team. I think it’s a really good fit for what I’m interested in doing, and I’m pretty excited about the role. I interned at Amazon last summer as well.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career or at your school?
Diversity in the workplace is a really important issue for me. I was part of the Riordan Programs at UCLA Anderson before coming to Haas, and their mission is to provide leadership and management training to diverse individuals across the country. I stayed with the organization through the alumni association (Riordan Programs Alumni Association, RPAA) after I completed the Riordan Fellows program. While the rest of the RPAA is in Southern California, I had moved up to the Bay Area for a new job, and I initiated RPAA’s presence in the Bay Area. I put together a diversity mixer event in collaboration with the New York Life Insurance SF office. We had over 40 people show up to the event and attendees had a chance to network and hear speakers such as Eric Abrams, the Director of Diversity Initiative at Haas. This event was something I’m extremely proud of because it set the stage for our program to tackle diversity and inclusion issues in the Bay Area, a region where we haven’t had a lot of presence so far.
Favorite MBA Courses?
I have two favorite courses. The first one is called Power and Politics. The course is all about influence and power within organizations. We read through many different cases where the protagonist needs to show power or influence on the job, and our professor initiates a conversation where we have to discuss the next step for the protagonist. It was a really fascinating class because all sorts of topics come up that apply to any person in any working situation. It’s also very hands-on in that we talk through tactics of how to display more power, and provide feedback to others on our strengths and weaknesses. My other favorite class is Negotiations. This class is all about situations where you assume a particular character who has inherent interests, and you need to come to some type of agreement with another person or maybe multiple people. Negotiations teaches you how to work with different types of people very quickly, and I know it will be extremely valuable in my future career endeavors.
Fun fact about yourself:
Before coming to Haas I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro! It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I’m very grateful that I could go and made it all the way to the top.