Paul Merage Business School

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The Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine is consistently ranked among the top 10% of accredited business schools in the United States and among the top 5% of business schools worldwide, according to Financial Times rankings 2021.

Sophia Fischer (picture below) was particularly drawn to Merage’s diverse, tight-knit community, Southern California location, strong alumni network, and career opportunities. The school is located in the center of California’s Tech Coast, home to one-third of Fortune 500 companies and organizations.

After spending six years in various roles as a marketing professional within the medical device industry, Sophia wanted to move into an upstream marketing or strategy consulting role. MBA Paul Merage helps him do just that.

BusinessBecause caught up with Sophia to find out more about why she chose to do a full-time MBA at the Paul Merage School of Business, and how it helped her advance her career.


Why did you choose the Paul Merage School of Business MBA program?

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Diversity is extremely important to me because I grew up abroad. My cohort actually achieved gender parity, which was pretty unique for business schools.

Plus, the Orange County location can’t be beat. I knew I probably wanted to stay in medical devices or biotechnology and Orange County is a hot spot for that. But in case I decided to change careers, I wanted to be in a place that had a lot of different industries.

Finally, I chose Merage for its class size and community. At Merage, everyone knows each other and everyone wants to connect with you, it’s this warmth that drew me to this school.


What does the Paul Merage School of Business look for in its MBA candidates?

What’s important to Merage is making sure there’s a two-way fit: that you can contribute to their community, as well as get what you want out of the MBA program.

When you go to an interview, they try to find out how much you can contribute to this community both in the classroom and as part of the Merage lifestyle.

They talk a lot about digital leadership as one of the strengths of our program. One of the essay questions is about digital trends you have experienced in your professional life.


What have been the highlights of the Paul Merage MBA so far?

The large number of opportunities available to you. I am involved in the Women in Business club, the social chair of our student organization and vice-president of the Merage beach and surf club.

The school has several professional networking clubs and some really fun social clubs, it’s indicative of our community.

Academically, I took a course called Competitive Intelligence, which ended with a final that was a nine-hour war game.

It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. We arrived on campus at noon and imagined ourselves as part of the strategy team of a real company.

We received an alert about something happening in the world and we had to change our strategy to respond to it. It was an exciting and challenging thing that I loved because it was so rooted in the real world.


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What is one thing you would change about the Paul Merage MBA?

The perception that we don’t have as strong an alumni network as other schools. Merage is a small school and a small community, so that was something that worried me. But because we have such a small school, we form very deep bonds and have passionate alumni.


Do you feel supported in your career development?

The Career Center knows you by name before you arrive on campus.

They set up virtual workshops in the summer before you register, to understand who you are, what drives you and what excites you.

Merage has ties to some major diversity conferences that take place at the start of the year. Thanks to one of them, I was able to get my internship at Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Devices.

After doing my internship, I got a full-time offer to work in their marketing leadership program, which I’m really excited about.


What is it about UCI Paul Merage that most people wouldn’t know?

I was surprised at how well Merage has adapted in its response to the pandemic.

Covid has really highlighted Merage’s digital leadership capabilities. Our teachers have access to recording studios which they use to create professionally produced course materials and videos.

All of our classrooms are fully integrated with zoom capabilities, touch screen interfaces and they are wired for sound.

It really made blended learning a success, something we can use in the future.


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22 Common MBA Application Questions – Answers

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