Student Profile: Caleb Downey, University of California, Irvine Paul Merage School of Business

Student Profile: Caleb Downey, University of California, Irvine Paul Merage School of Business main image

Caleb Downey is an MBA student at UC Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business.

Before starting his studies, he worked as an active duty military officer in the United States Air Force, amassing three years of professional experience. He spoke to us about his reasons for undertaking the MBA at UC Irvine and what he’s learned so far on the course.

What were the factors that led to you pursuing a graduate degree?

This was a great opportunity for me to position myself for success after departure from the armed forces. It can be extremely difficult for veterans to translate their military experience into the skills and attributes that will help them be hired.

An MBA was my way of strengthening my business knowledge and building the network I would need to successfully transition from active duty to civilian work.  

What were the tools you used to research programs and universities?

I started by narrowing down my search area into where I would want to live in the future. I then did my due diligence by contacting students and alumni at the schools I was interested in to see which ones would be a good fit.

After applying to a broad swath of schools, the final step was visiting each school to see how well I would fit in with the culture of each location. 

What factored into your final choice of where to study?

Cultural fit, location, and school focus. During my visits to each school I was accepted at, I quickly realized that not all programs had the same collaborative culture as UCI.

I also wanted to make sure the caliber of the students around me would not only challenge me mentally but also allow me to help others grow during their MBA. UCI was not only a perfect fit for culture and location but their focus on strategic decision-making in a digitally driven world tied well into my career plans post-graduation.

What do you most love about the school/program?

The people. I’ve made more good friends through social events and club activities than I had in the 10 years prior to my MBA. I know I now have an entire class of friends I can reach back to in the future and they will help me achieve my personal and professional goals. 

What is your favorite thing about the city/campus?

The proximity to some of the best surfing beaches in the United States has also allowed me to pursue learning how to surf while still being close enough to the ski slopes to do both in one day. Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Beach are all amazing vacation destinations that are only 15 minutes from campus.

What is your best experience on the program to date?

Each year UCI’s charity club “Challenge for Charity” competes with the other west coast MBA programs to see who can have the greatest impact on their local communities through fundraising and volunteering.

The year culminates with an event that brings together 3000+ students. It was amazing to see how well UCI did as a smaller program and the positive impact we were able to make.

Written by Craig OCallaghan

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