May 19, 2023 • By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business
The Merage School will host the 2023 Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders, contributing to the systemwide effort from University of California business schools to better reflect the diversity of the state and increase enrollment for minority groups.
Launched in 2012, the SIEML program offers an immersive business and leadership experience to prospective graduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Hispanic Serving Institutions. Students learn about business and entrepreneurship, build analytical, technical and management skills, and gain opportunities to pursue a graduate degree in business.
SIEML students are also eligible to receive up to a year of full fee and tuition fellowships at any of the six UC graduate business schools. The program provides vital information and guidance to students and increases the UC system’s access to talented individuals from a wide array of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
Sainna Christian, who attended the program at UC Davis in 2020, believes the SIEML program is invaluable because it gives minority students the chance to be better prepared for graduate school.
“Graduate school is expensive, and when you take into account the fact that students who are a part of minority groups do not have the same access to resources, having a program that's strictly dedicated to preparing us for graduate programs and to be able to get these degrees at no cost is definitely needed,” she said.
Christian entered the program during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, so the summer program was held virtually. Yet, she still had a very positive experience. She will earn her master’s degree in Business Analytics from UC Irvine in June.
“It was really an amazing experience,” she said. “I didn't have that in-person experience that previous years had but I found that they were still able to give us the same sort of experience. We learned a lot of valuable information about all the different UC business schools, we did a case competition, and met some amazing people who I'm still in contact with to this day.”
Christian originally heard about the program while attending LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically Black college in Memphis. Since the program specifically aims to help minority students, she felt it was a valuable opportunity to prepare for post-collegiate life.
“I was coming up on graduation and trying to figure out what's next,” she said. “I was asking myself, ‘Do I want to try to get into this turbulent job market, or should I just go ahead and go straight for a master's degree?’ I hadn't previously looked into any schools, so this was an amazing first step for me to learn more about graduate life.”
While the summer program touched on many useful topics, Christian said she particularly appreciated learning more about the graduate admissions process. It provided her with a sense of what the UCs were looking for in an applicant.
The program also connected students with industry leaders and UC business school alumni, provided training in business analytics and negotiation, and helped students develop better communication skills.
The program also featured a workshop that helped Christian map out her current skill set and goals, so that she could choose a school that would better equip her for working in the specific field she desires. The case study also provided an important exercise in working with others and creating important relationships.
“I was able to work in a small group with people who brought various things to the table and building out solutions was a fun part of the process,” Christian said.
Christian ended up choosing the Merage School for her degree because she learned that it has a flexible MSBA program that allowed her to focus on more than just data analytics. The program allows students to customize their Business Analytics degree with three tracks: marketing analytics, data analytics, and operations analytics.
Christian discovered that she has a passion for marketing and she’s hoping to work in either tech or retail after she graduates in a few months. Coming from a small, close-knit college, Christian has also enjoyed the supportive community at UC Irvine.
Without the guidance she received at the SIEML program, she may not have ended up in a program that’s so well suited for her.
“There hasn't been any point where I didn't feel supported,” Christian said of her time at the Merage School. “I haven’t felt like I’m on my own, or that I couldn’t manage the workload. I’ve made good connections and I have felt so supported by fellow students, teaching assistants, and professors.”
For more information about the SIEML program, visit https://sieml.universityofcalifornia.edu/index.html.