We all have those weeks where we feel like there are more things to do than hours available to do them. That is definitely the case in business school, at least during the first semester (the second years keep telling us it gets easier, but I’m starting to wonder if they tell us that just to keep us from going crazy). For me, the greatest example of just how busy it can get came during the week of finals.
During the first semester at McCombs, we take the majority of our core classes with our cohorts. In order to cover the gamut of major business topics in just 5 months, we take a full set of classes for one half of the semester, and then switch classes halfway through.
This means that we take finals covering the entire material for a course at the same time that we would normally be taking midterms in an undergrad course. Fortunately, they split this out over two weeks and give us the weekend to prepare for the second half of our finals.
So on Saturday, after already finishing two finals, I looked over all I had coming up the week ahead and had no idea how I would be able to finish everything on my plate. Not only did I have two highly quantitative finals, but I had also joined the team that would represent McCombs in a regional case competition at the end of the week. To say that business school forces you to refine your time management skills is a huge understatement. There are times though, like this week, where you just have to put your head down and focus on the task at hand.
I somehow survived the last two finals (the professors are very good at putting your knowledge to the test!), and then it was on to the case challenge. Because the case distribution coincided with studying for finals, my team had only been able to meet a few times prior to the end of finals. We had two days to do a week’s worth of work, so we had no choice but to pull an all-nighter to finish. While it can be draining, the process of working with a team to create a solution to a problem and then clearly and concisely communicate your logic and reasoning is quite fulfilling. In the end, our team didn’t win, but we felt that we represented the school well and took pride in what we accomplished.
Fortunately, there was a reward at the end of this journey: a golf scramble after the presentation complete with a team costume contest, and the weekend to recover. While the MBA program pushes you beyond your perceived limits, they also schedule enough social events that you don’t burn out. Not every week in business school is like this one, but most aren’t far off. However, going through those types of weeks has shown me that I am capable of much more than I thought I was prior to business school.