6pm Central, Thursday evening – fourth day of summer internship. As I pack my bag, I have already started celebrating that the weekend is here. I recover with a jolt and realize that this is not McCombs. So that means for the next 12 weeks I will have to set a wake up alarm for Friday morning. Ugh! I miss school, the three day weekends, classroom discussions that went off tangentially and not having a boss. But welcome back bi-weekly salary, corporate job, cubicle, free coffee and Macbook Pro. This is a mixed bag!
I have always disliked clichés such as ‘I can hardly believe that the first year is over!’ or ‘How time flies!’ but I can’t help admit that it is so true. The past ten months have blown me away like a blizzard. I lost my evenings to homework assignments, my weekends to course readings and my free time to company meets. Yet I can say without regret that this grueling exercise has made me better prepared to meet challenges, confident of my ability to overcome obstacles and much less diffident a person than what I used to be.
At the end of my first year, if I made a scorecard of my accomplishments, what would be my pain points, or my mitigation plan? What did I have to give up and how has it benefited me?
The Challenges and Did I Really Succeed?
Writing a paper that constituted 30% of the course grade in the last 48 consecutive hours and still coming out of the better side of the grade distribution? Sounds good, but I don’t want to make that a habit. Procrastination has always been my greatest enemy. Appearing for three back to back interviews from 9am – 11:30am and then for a two hour mid-term exam at 12 noon realizing two internship offers and a good grade? This time, I was thoroughly prepared!
Two MBA+ projects in two semesters, attending weekly meetings with the client and visiting the client’s office to provide mid project status reports. I learned a lot about marketing and operations from my projects.
Giving up all Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 6pm to attend a financial modeling training session and then making it back to school on Monday solely on the strength of coffee? Although I was exhausted, I learned so much from the training that I am glad I enrolled for it.
What Did I learn?
My biggest learning has been time management. As one of our career service advisers put it so succinctly, the program is designed to break you down unless you prioritize. To date, I have not seen much of Austin even though I live only 3 miles away from downtown. I have not been to most of the wonderful social events that are organized by the Graduate Business Council. But I learned to manage cooking food, getting groceries, doing laundry alongside being up to speed on homework and readings as much as possible.
Long long ago, I realized that I was not a morning person. This semester, I was careful not to select any 8am classes. That meant I could get as much sleep as I wanted, but I also started my day late and finished late.
One of my core courses was on Strategic Management. At the start of the semester, I had no clue about how to crack a case. At the end of these fourteen weeks, I know more about the tools that I can use to understand a business problem and solve it methodically. I also learned a bit more about the fascinating line of study called Finance. My classmates, many of whom are former investment bankers, have contributed to my knowledge with their valuable insights. The classroom turned out be like a laboratory where I could experiment with ideas and make valuable decisions.