How Undergrad Prepared (and Didn’t Prepare) Me for Business School
It is hard to believe that we are already nearing the end of the academic year here at the GSM. Soon, we will be sending off the graduating Class of 2013, and us first years will be transitioning into our summer internships.
As one of our class’s younger members, my undergraduate studies were not that long ago. I am still well accustomed to the academic lifestyle—in fact, even during my time away from school, I worked as a primary school teacher. In many ways, the MBA student’s lifestyle is similar to that of an undergraduate’s. However, there are several aspects of business school that my undergraduate experiences did not prepare me for.
First, teamwork—lots of teamwork. The focus of learning and evaluation in business school is centered on your ability to work successfully in a variety of teams. Often, more than half of your grade in a class is determined by your team projects and contributions to class discussion. Sometimes you will choose your teams, other times you will not. As a result, it becomes highly important to your academic success to be able to navigate several projects simultaneously, all with different people.
Second, the inability to procrastinate. Both the quantity and depth of learning increase in graduate school. As a result, students are expected to accomplish a larger share of their learning outside the classroom. Though an average MBA student may only be in classes 12-15 hours per week, outside of class commitments are much larger. Team meetings, readings, and of course, networking and the job hunt all take up a great deal of an MBA student’s time outside of class. Falling behind and cramming at the end of the term just does not work any longer. You are accountable every day.
Third, the pace, and therefore, the focus. The MBA curriculum lasts only two years, and the job hunt begins on day 0. Before classes even started this year, our class began networking, seeking out people in our desired fields, and attending leadership trainings. Throughout the year, there are a great deal of student organizations, activities, and social events to get involved with. In this context, time flies extremely quickly. Planning ahead is essential to getting what you want out of the program.