Reflection on My First Semester

This blog courtesy of Guest Blogger and first-year MBA Sarah Nathan, Class of 2013.

First semester officially ended last Friday with the completion of my last final in Marketing Management, and after a whirlwind of weekend celebrations, I’m ready to reflect on my first semester at McCombs. It has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding periods in my life, and while I’m thrilled to have the first semester core classes under my belt, I have to admit that I’m a little sad that 25% of program is (already!) over.

As soon as you are admitted to the program, and when you show up to Orientation, the program staff tries to prepare you for just how busy you will be during your first semester in the program. You get lots of encouragement to try new things, but they also advise you to make sure you keep track of what you’re signing up for and don’t over-commit yourself. For me, I thought I was really good at prioritizing my time and only taking on what I could handle…until I got to McCombs. I wanted to do everything! Clubs! Meeting future employers! Case Challenges! MBA+ Project! Study groups! Happy Hour!

Ninja schedulingI ended up getting involved with the McCombs Admissions Committee and the CleanTech Group, and signed up for an MBA+ Project. I also decided to pursue an internship in Consulting, so I participated in Deloitte’s Consulting Case Challenge and have been attending weekly Brief and Meets and recruiting events with a number of different companies. Coupled with homework, reading, tests, spending time with my husband, and “networking” with my fellow first-years at a variety of local drinking establishments, I really began to appreciate what Program Director Tina Mabley was talking about when she used the term “ninja scheduling.” (For those who missed it, “ninja scheduling” refers to the act of balancing back-to-back-to-back classes, team meetings, and other commitments over the course of your day, all while coordinating with the dozens other people who make up the various groups that you are a part of. It’s really an important skill.)

Thinking back over the semester, a few highlights stand out.

  • Highlight #1: Around 4 a.m. on the night of the Consulting Challenge, when our recommendations finally coalesced and we got the first draft of our presentation put together.
  • Highlight #2: Coming in 2nd place in my Cohort after taking what I had learned about Utilization in my Operations class and using it to maximize profits in a case simulation in my Marketing class.
  • Highlight #3: That moment of clarity in my Valuations class when I finally understood the different methods we had been talking about and how to apply them. (And the relief that that moment came the week BEFORE finals, and not after.)
  • And finally, Highlight #4 isn’t really a single event; it’s the friendships and connections that I’ve made so far. This weekend, as we all celebrated the relief of having survived finals week, I realized just how many people I’ve met in the last few months whom I now consider to be good friends. Turns out, 8 a.m. Accounting class on Monday mornings is a great way to build camaraderie. As are ten-page finance homework assignments, pages and pages of econ reading, and crazy, charismatic professors. I’m glad to say that we all made it through first semester, I’m thrilled to have a few weeks off for Christmas, and I can’t wait to see everything again on the first day of Spring Semester.

McCombs MBA students

 MBAs playing Hangman


Posted in Academics, Full-Time, Student Life, Student Orgs

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