It’s hard to believe the first year is coming to an end! With just a final exam, a paper, and a presentation left, I am definitely in the home stretch. I wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts from the past year.
1. Business school is full of rejection. I’m not going to lie – my first semester was the four most difficult months of my life. I applied for jobs, went to a national career fair, ran for club positions, tried to get A’s, and tried to act like I had it all together. And I got rejected. From companies, from positions, from top grades… and meanwhile it seemed like everyone around me was doing great without a care in the world. It wasn’t true. The majority of us were are all swimming in our own insecurities and feelings of not being good enough. But you have to keep at it, hold your head up, and realize that you will make it through and it will all be okay. Did you read that? IT WILL ALL BE OKAY. I promise.
2. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to try. You never know who might end up in your study groups, as future colleagues, and as best friends. Besides, when no one else understands what you are going through, your MBA friends will. They will keep you going, build you up, and make sure you succeed.
3. Don’t expect to have a life outside of school. Say goodbye to your pre-MBA friends. Oh and the fact that there is no class on Fridays? The truth is that you will be at school or working on projects or traveling or something. We all thought we would be taking it easy on Fridays, but instead we ended up working harder than we expected.
4. Prepare for school as soon as possible. Review finance, accounting, economics, statistics. Find the syllabus and read what you can early. Make sure you know Excel, Powerpoint, and the power of the Outlook calendar. Then start looking for an internship. Think about where you want to work and start your research. Start networking. You will be drowning as soon as school starts, so get a head start. You think I’m crazy right? You’ll thank me, trust me.
5. Take advantage of everything cool that you can. If you miss something important because you were too worried about studying, then you have missed the point. You may never have the opportunity to have conversations with the people that come to McCombs. I met countless executives this year who have all added some piece of insight and value to my experience here. I don’t regret going to a single event, even if I was bogged down with work.
6. Get to know some second years. It may take effort, but it will be worth it. In addition to my wonderful peer adviser and mentor, I was fortunate enough to get to know some pretty amazing second years from almost day one. Not only were they great friends, but they advised me, talked me off the ledge a few times, eased my fears, and made me feel at home at McCombs. (One year was not enough time with them!)
7. Get to know your professors. You will utilize them long after their classes are over. Plus, there is a reason McCombs is recognized for having top faculty, and it serves you well to get to know them. Besides, they like to get to know us too! Get to know the staff, too. They are equally helpful and can make your life so much easier.
8. Take recruiting seriously from day one. Every contact you make is important. Every chance you have to make an impression is important. Recruiters are paying attention, and it serves you well to step up early. Always be professional, courteous, and follow up. Be prepared. Attend every event you can. It is tedious, time consuming, stressful… and it’s going to help land you a job.
9. Never be afraid to ask for what you want. What’s the worst that can happen? A no? But say you get a yes, then your doors can be open to some incredible experiences and opportunities. (see below!)
10. You will at many times wonder, “why did I think coming back to school was a good idea?” It was. Trust me.
As for me, I would say that everything worked out just as it should. My second semester was absolutely incredible. I finally started getting internship offers. I accepted an offer to intern at the Boston Consulting Group. I went to India for 2 weeks. I applied to study abroad, and was selected to attend ESADE in Barcelona next Spring. I was a teaching assistant for Dr. Vijay Mahajan and had an amazing experience working for a brilliant man. I was selected to be a TA for two classes next semester. I did two real and meaningful projects for Nordstrom and Frito Lay. I heard brilliant speakers. I made brilliant friendships. And I set myself up to have an amazing fall semester.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. When I finished my last exam of fall semester, I went outside and nearly cried. I questioned my intelligence, my value, and my ability. I wondered if I had made the right decision to leave my company, my income, my friends, and my lifestyle to come back to McCombs.
I can tell you now. I did.
Best of luck to all of you!