I have been a severely negligent blogger over the past year, and I accept that. Acceptance is Step One. I think Step Two is eating ice cream and watching an entire season of Game of Thrones in one sitting. If that’s true then I’m on to Step Three, which I believe involves drinking a cocktail with your MBA friends while blithely throwing around words like “ROI,” “arbitrage,” and “white space” while strangers around you roll their eyes in disgust.
It’s good to be an MBA.
You know what’s even better then being an MBA? Being a second year MBA. Being a second year means you survived your first year, but still have time left to act like a student before you are thrown back into the daily drudgery of the 9-to-5. Not to discourage any incoming first years. We’ve all done it, we’ve all survived. And you will too! I’ve never heard of a student dying of stress in the first year. There was that one guy who broke down sobbing in the middle of an Accounting final…but we don’t speak of that.
To finally come to the point, I thought it would be nice to wrap up my first year with a retrospective blog. A “lessons learned” edition, if you will. It will be a nice conclusion to a year of headaches, and hopefully make up for the fact that I haven’t written a blog post since March.
So here we go!
What I Learned in the First Year of my MBA
- It’s hard. Harder than you ever imagined. Remember how hard it was to study for the GMAT, hound your managers for recommendations, and write those personal statements? Your first year is slightly more soul-crushing than that. Because now you’re being cold called in class to analyze a case you kind of skimmed while brushing your teeth that morning because you were up late reading for another class, formatting a PowerPoint deck for a case competition, and prepping for an internship interview you really, really want to ace. But don’t panic, because…
- It’s extremely rewarding. You will never grow so much in the course of 9 months as you will in your first year of b-school. You will become a case-devouring, presentation-giving, networking, interviewing, buzz-word-spewing, resume-building machine, and you won’t even notice how much you’ve changed until you see the blank looks in the eyes of your non-MBA friends as you explain how you spent your summer analyzing the strategic implications of rolling out an ERP globally given the current competitive landscape and regulatory environment in the APAC region.
- You will change your mind about what you want to do. Perhaps more than once. When consulting doesn’t pan out, you will suddenly discover an abiding passion for product marketing, and that’s OK. The whole point of the MBA experience is self-discovery and self-improvement, so embrace it. Try some things outside of your comfort zone. Take that class in Corporate Entrepreneurship or Operational Strategery. Who knows? You just might find your calling.
- Some of your classmates are capable of drinking much more than should be physically possible. Don’t be frightened. Just keep your camera phone at the ready.
- Exercise. Sleep. Home-cooked meals. You may forget what these things are in the thick of studying for finals.
- As much as you may come to adore/loath/obsess over your classmates, remember that you have other relationships outside of business school. These people will be your anchor to the outside world. Don’t neglect them! Also, you will inevitably neglect them. Just apologize profusely and buy them dinner once the year is over. (Unless it’s your significant other, in which case DO NOT NEGLECT THEM unless you want to find yourself single by Winter Break.)
- It goes by fast. Scary fast. The only thing to do is strap yourself in, keep your LinkedIn profile updated, and buy lots of school-branded merchandise. It will never be this exhausting/crazy/awesome again.
For the incoming class of 2016, good luck and happy studying!