I’m so close to graduating from EMBA and wanted to share three areas of the program that I underrated in the first 18 months.
#1 TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY OFFERINGS
What? I know, you’re thinking, “How could you be serious?!?” There are literally daily opportunities to go to different events, watch others present (like TVL and MSTC), network or volunteer. “My brain is completely saturated and the email invitations are too long!” Now, I’m not saying that everyone can do everything or that everyone will enjoy everything, but there is something for everyone. Not only will this expand your experience in the program, remember – it builds your network. I always prioritized work and studying before these events and I know I missed out on a few I still regret. Remember, that test is just a single event over the course of your entire career, while the relationships you make in this program can affect you over your lifetime.
#2 YOUR PROFESSORS ARE THERE FOR YOU
Scared, intimidated, maybe even ignorant – I’m not sure what the word is, but I did not leverage my professors enough. Sometimes I felt like my question or concern was not significant enough to mention, so I opted not to and that was a mistake. When I did email them questions after class or met with them, I was always shocked how much energy and vested interest they had in seeing us succeed. Maybe this was obvious to some, but I always doubted myself. Reach out to your professors and leverage their wealth of knowledge and commitment to the program and its students.
#3 TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
This sounds like motherly advice. I know. “You don’t know what works until you try.” Maybe it is. But I know it is easy to fall back into what we are comfortable with, what has worked for us before and what we have enjoyed in the past. Frankly, it’s the smart, efficient thing to do when you are strapped for time and have so many demands on it. But I’d argue, that I got a lot more value from pushing myself out of my comfort zone than I would have expected. Trying something new can be anything – a new study method, a way of communicating, collaborating on a deliverable, whatever. Under the stress of working and attending this program, it is easy to fall back into your old haunts and how you operate “normally.” Then again, didn’t most of us come here to reinvent ourselves in some form or fashion? The only way you can do that is to push the envelope. Sometimes it is scary, awkward or even a huge flop, but often you learn more from failure, so take advantage of it. Don’t forget that the EMBA program is truly a safe vacuum of time where you can fail, without significant repercussions. Go do that thing that immediately evokes the dubious eye squint. Seriously, do it!
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and I hope reminding myself that I underrated these pieces of advice will help my last semester be the best it could ever be.