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It’s Orientation—Just Not How You Think of It

Orientation. The word evokes many images. A couple of tours. A free hat or bag. A couple pamphlets. Those ‘hi, my names is…’ stickers that never stay on your shirt. Maybe even a cup of coffee or two. Get those images out of your head. They are based upon assumptions. And, as future MBA’ers, you will be doing plenty of assuming. Just not now.

Perhaps it’s the terminology that’s confusing. Orientation isn’t quite the right word. Perhaps a different word would better paint the picture. Some terms suggested by my classmates were boot camp, indoctrination and immersion training. Don’t be scared; just don’t assume you know what’s coming.

Except for the coffee, that will be there. And name tags (nice ones too).

Regardless of what you want to call it, this is going to be a unique opportunity for you and your classmates to get a first-rate education. Not an education on statistics, marketing or finance—there will be time for that later—but in the so-called soft skills. If you haven’t heard this term, Google it. Many of these soft skills (communication, networking, interviewing) will help you get a job. Some of them (grit, team building, feedback skills) will make you better at the job you get. But know this: they are all valuable skills. 

“The most valuable part of business school is the network, the students. And, helping your classmates get better helps strengthen that network.”

Some of you may already have extensive experience at using these soft skills. And you may think that three weeks on these skills may be excessive.  If this is the case, I ask you to consider a couple things. It can never hurt to improve these skills. Practicing them at this level, with a group of your peers, all whom have significant skills and motivation of their own, can only make you better. 

Second, the most valuable part of business school is the network, the students. Helping your classmates get better helps strengthen that network, thus making your education more valuable. It’s also a great opportunity for you to bond with your cohort. You will also have the opportunity to meet and present in front of several multinational companies right away. Which is all but unheard of. So come ready to work.

Thus endeth the orientation sermon. 

I hope this will help you have the the proper mindset coming in to orientation. Oh, and if you can help it, don’t make the mistake I did of agreeing to work at your old job during orientation. Don’t assume the workload during orientation is lighter than it is when you start classes. It isn’t. Just different.

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