Reflections on my First Year as a MBA Student

If you’re a first year MBA student, there will be much to learn for the future. Read this reflection and  helpful MBA tips for new students and what to expect.

 

As a rising MBA2, this summer has given me the chance to reflect on being a first year MBA student. MBA Orientation was a memorable rush of meeting classmates, getting settled into my new home and keeping insanely busy with pre-recruiting and social activities.  During orientation at the Ross School of Business, first-year students had four days total to ideate, create & build and host a back-to-school fair for Detroit Public School students. When we weren’t working on the fair directly, we were shuttled between wonderful guest speakers and opportunities to learn more about the day-in-a-life of Detroit public-school students.

Another fun experience was admitted students’ weekend, during which school faculty, staff, alumni and current students get a chance to discuss what makes the MBA program special to them. During my weekend in Ann Arbor for admitted students, there was one student presenter whose story resonated with me. The concise version is that he arrived on campus with the sole goal of securing a job within his desired industry. That meant eschewing out-of-classroom relationship building in order to keep a myopic focus on both academics and recruiting. His outlook did change and by the end of his first year he had a desire to form bonds with both the school and his classmates, leading to greater participation in student-run clubs.

I bring this up because an important takeaway for me is the MBA experience is truly unique to each candidate. Whether I wanted to focus solely on recruiting or desired a more balanced approach, it was up to me.

With that said, I’d like to share what I found to be helpful for me in addition to case competitions, in-class discussions, company coffee chats and club activities:

  •  Meeting with Professors who have experience in my desired industry.
    • Being mindful of their time and visiting with prepared questions and a plan to drive the conversation, I learned a lot about what the faculty member learned while in the industry and was given good advice for how to approach both recruiting and on-the-job behavior.
  • Leveraging the library’s vast volumes of magazines, academic journals and dailies. Also, don’t forget about digital books.
    • I get bad marks on this one but feel I have been making up for time lost as of late.Ency Financial Models
    • While the ample available journals are well known, I was woefully unaware of the wide selection of eBooks that b-schoolers have available to. I read a terrific book on using big data to make better decisions, how to spot red flags in companies’ financial statements and am currently reading about economic bubbles. Accessing the eLibrary is also a nice way to save some money. One book I am (very) slowly working through titled Encyclopedia of Financial Models retails on Amazon for just over $1,000.
  • Calling/emailing alumni to learn more about companies and industries.
    • Calls were such a great way to learn about the history of companies and industries. I assumed calls would feel very formulaic but that certainly was not the case! In fact, during one of my favorite calls this past fall, I got a 40-minute primer on the past 35-years of change in the Oil & Gas industry, the two inflection points that took place in the late 70s and mid-200s and an outlook on industry innovation versus media consensus expectation. While I am not recruiting for Oil & Gas (the call was about another industry), I enjoyed hearing such a passionate account and being a curious person enjoyed learning about a space in which my knowledge base was light.
  • Taking advantage of the other programs on- or off-campus.
    • There is so much outside of the business school that can relate to business.
    • This summer, I am taking a MOOC from University of Michigan Economics Professor Scott Page about using models to help make better-informed decisions. This is the third course I’ve taken outside of the business school and for each class I take the more I can see how business processes develop in different fields.

 

 

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