Student Profile: Jeff Goyer, UC Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business

Student Profile: Jeff Goyer, UC Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business main image

Jeff Goyer is an MBA student at UC Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business.

Born in America, Jeff previously worked for MGM Resorts International as a senior financial analyst and had gained five years of experience before enrolling for his MBA.

Here, he talks to TopMBA about why he chose to study an MBA and how the experience has benefited him so far.

What were you doing before you started your MBA?

I was working as a senior financial analyst for The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. I primarily worked with the Hotel and Food and Beverage divisions on property.

On a monthly basis, I would meet with department heads and directors and review their monthly P&L statements to review their financial results and discuss with them areas where they could improve in the coming months.

That time also served as an opportunity to hear any new ideas they had to improve their operations that they needed assistance with regarding financial projections or modeling.

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

For as long as I could remember, I knew I had wanted to obtain my MBA. Being a first-generation college student, I had always known that I wanted to get an undergraduate degree. However, when I heard about an MBA and what it entailed, I knew that that was the degree I ultimately wanted to receive.

As I got older, I recognized the value of the degree and how it could help me progress in the world of business, which further solidified my decision to pursue one once I had the requisite work experience.

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

In researching schools and universities, I primarily utilized the school websites to get a better idea of what their programs had to offer, whether it was course descriptions, experiential learning opportunities, clubs and organizations, or campus life experiences.

What factored into your final choice of where to study?

There were a few factors I considered in making my final choice on where to study. Staying on the west coast was a big deal for me, as that is where I have been my entire life. I knew going back to school was going to require a big adjustment on my part, and I did not want to make that transition more difficult by going to a part of the country that I was not familiar with.

I also wanted to make sure the structure of the program was something I was comfortable with. I wanted a program that provided flexibility in the courses that were being offered versus a program that essentially put me in a “box” regarding what classes I could and couldn’t take.

Finally, I wanted to go to a place where I really connected with the people I was interacting with during the application process. If I felt they truly cared about the enormity of the decision I was making and did their best to make that decision easier, I knew it would be a place that would take my professional development seriously and do their best to provide me with all the skills and tools necessary to succeed.

Were there any specific classes or areas of focus that attracted you to the program? What are they and why?

UCI’s focus on business strategy was something that really attracted me to the program. In my pre-graduate school role, I was exposed to a lot of numbers and how to use them to make decisions, but I didn’t necessarily know the best way to utilize those numbers to execute high-level business strategies.

I felt that the school’s focus on business strategy, and how those strategies can be utilized in a business environment that is becoming increasingly digitized, could help me fill this knowledge gap.

From a high-level perspective though, I really liked the flexibility built into UCI’s curriculum. We are given the opportunity to take a number of electives without having to worry about staying within a singular concentration.

That flexibility meant I could take classes that improve skills I’m currently lacking in or take classes that sound genuinely interesting to me.

What do you most love about the school/program?

The thing I love most about UCI’s program is the family atmosphere they’ve created here. From day one, I could tell the faculty, administration, and staff were dedicated to making sure I would succeed in all facets of my graduate school experience.

That attitude was mimicked by my classmates as well. Throughout my time at UCI, my classmates have been supportive inside and outside of the classroom. The entire UCI community has the mindset of helping each other succeed, and that has made the experience more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined.

What is your favorite thing about the city/campus?

Having three major beaches within a half hour drive is certainly appealing, while it is close to major cities such as LA and San Diego.

What is your best experience on the program to date?

My best experience from the program so far has been being a member of the Paul Merage Student Ambassadors program. I enjoy being able to share my application story with potential students looking to make a similar decision. I view being Ambassador as a way to give back to the school for everything they have given to me thus far. It is also very rewarding to be able to shape future classes by determining who would be a good fit for the Merage community.

What do you plan to do once you graduate?

When I graduate, I plan to be in a business strategy role for a major hospitality/entertainment organization. I want to be in a role that gives me the opportunity to analyze numbers and to use that analysis to help the organization make business decisions.

What do you think is the biggest myth about applying to business school?

The biggest myth regarding business school is the idea it’s a cutthroat environment where everyone is simply in it for themselves and they’re always looking for a way to gain an advantage over their classmates. Actually, everyone looks to help their fellow students succeed.

What is the one piece of advice you would have for incoming students to your program?

Fully embrace the experience and don’t stress out about landing the perfect internship, being a straight A student, or even being a career/industry switcher.

Being in graduate school is a time to learn from your fellow classmates about their professional experiences, adding tools and knowledge to your professional toolkit, and expanding your professional network. The internship will come in due time and you will eventually figure out what career role or industry you want to be a part of.

The important thing about graduate school is learning the skills that are necessary to succeed in the business world, while learning valuable lessons from others about what they learned on their own paths and how you can utilize those lessons as you begin to go down yours.

Lead image: Winston Chiang (Flickr)


Written by Craig OCallaghan

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