The Complete MBA Experience: Beyond the Classroom

February 13, 2014
by Kian Salehizadeh

My lifelong dream was to develop a career in the investment industry.  After graduating from UCSD with an undergraduate degree in Management Science, I was fortunate to land a position with Brandes Investment Partners, a behemoth in the financial world at the time.  Within a few years, I had developed many of the critical skills needed to move up in the corporate world, but I was anxious to learn more about every aspect of finance and investments.  I transitioned into an institutional relationship management role with TD Ameritrade, where I interacted with independent investment advisors on a daily basis.  My time at Brandes and TD Ameritrade taught me the inner workings of money management and the Wall Street tricks of the trade.

While I enjoyed working at both firms, I desired to learn even more and to advance even further.  Unfortunately, I also came to the realization that the local investment scene is extremely limited, and I needed more than technical knowledge to succeed – I needed to significantly expand my professional network.  It was at this stage in my career that I also wanted to get back into the academic grind, and the Rady School of Management immediately caught my attention.  Entrepreneurship has always been a passion of mine, and the Rady School presented me with the perfect opportunity to get the complete MBA experience.  Not only could I learn about business and leadership from some of the most renowned professors in the country, but I could also hone my networking abilities by taking advantage of the countless opportunities to meet with recruiters and executives seeking to hire Rady School graduates.

I spent the next two years in the Rady FlexWeekend MBA program, learning as much as possible both inside and outside the classroom.  I attended as many networking events as I could while refining my resume and practicing my interviewing skills.  One year into the program, a former colleague of mine asked me to help him launch a nonprofit to provide solar energy to other nonprofits, and Everybody Solar became my first true foray into the startup world.  I welcomed the challenge and brought my Rady School experiences and knowledge to the organization.  Soon after graduating with my MBA, my persistent networking paid off and I was offered a position at Chandler Asset Management, a local wealth management firm of 20 employees.  Instead of stopping there, I continued to network and to meet with local professionals on a regular basis.  One year later, I harnessed the power of LinkedIn to join the small yet passionate team at Reality Shares, where I currently work as an Analyst.

By immersing myself in everything the Rady School had to offer, I am now simultaneously working for two startups, giving back to the community with one while helping to launch innovative financial products with the other.  Don’t be shy to explore beyond the classroom.

A lifelong Triton, Kian Salehizadeh graduated from the Rady FlexWeekend program in 2011.  He subsequently spent two years on the Rady Alumni Board, and he will always be available as a resource to current and former members of the Rady community.