Yizhong Xu

Sever Institute
Degree pursuing: MS of engineering management
Hometown: China

Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?
University of California, Irvine

What motivated you to earn a graduate engineering degree?
My motivation was to expand my skills beyond the scope of the academic. Academic knowledge is critical for my future growth, but equally important are professional skills such as communication, strategic thinking and leadership. Hard skills set the bottom line of my future career and those soft skills determine the ceiling of it. Another huge reason to pursue this degree is the concept of becoming a full-cycle engineer who knows not only technical terms, but also how to drive revenue from a business perspective.

Why did you pick WashU?
WashU is an inclusive campus that embraces different cultures and celebrates diversity, which is a significant factor for international students. Also, WashU is one of the most prestigious colleges offering a Master of Engineering Management degree. The admission videos created by Professor Peggy Matson clearly communicate the goal and the expectations for the program. I'm happy to see those values align with my personal ones.

Who is your favorite instructor and why?
I actually have two favorite instructors. Professor Peggy Matson was so awesome in the strategy class. She was patient when answering students' questions and always provided insightful feedback. Gary Baker was the co-instructor in that class. His professionalism in finance expanded our horizons and helped us learn more about the business side of a company.

What advice would you give to a new student?
Never be afraid to ask questions, bring up your concerns or ask for help. Instructors are always willing to help with questions, whether it's from the classroom or from a personal perspective. Another piece of advice is to begin planning for your career as soon as possible and use the valuable resources from the Career Center whenever needed.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
Cycling in St. Louis is an awesome experience, especially in Forest Park or around Creve Coeur Lake. You can enjoy the peace by avoiding the traffic while taking challenging routes with climbing and downhill sprinting.

What campus activities or groups would you recommend to a new student?
I would recommend the Career Center to new students if you have any questions or doubts about your career. The one-on-one consulting sessions are extremely helpful, and they have workshop sessions for resume reviewing and other topics that are helpful for someone with limited or no work experience.

Another recommendation is to look up the Technology, Engineering, Information and Management Society. This student organization was created in the summer of 2022 and serves as a bridge between Sever students and the industry to bring industry or career insights to students by inviting industry speakers and organizing career events.

What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to stay in the United States for at least several years to gain some exposure to the industry and work experience. I'm interested in a career in either finance or consulting. Being a management consultant is my current career goal.