A little over a year ago, I awoke to my first day of classes to start my MBA program. I was nervous, excited, and frantic, all in the same moment. In the blink of an eye, I began my coursework, the internship search, and my involvement in student organizations, attempting to receive the most return for my dollar in my short time here.
Today, I am proud to say I believe I have accomplished my goal and in a short time, I will graduate and enter the professional world. I believe I will come out of my MBA program a more qualified, confident, and complete person, all thanks to some guidelines I adhered to during my educational experience.
1). Network, Network, and Network:
We all hear it: the people you know and the people you connect with can land you opportunities you never knew existed. Though you can be told this, you won’t really believe it until you take on networking at full speed. I decided to try this in my internship search this past spring, reaching out to several contacts I’d made over the previous months.
I first simply desired information about their professional role, and then gradually held conversations pertaining about myself. Over time, a relationship was developed and job opportunities were presented to me without me even asking. Ultimately, I was presented with 2 internship offers without me ever applying to a position formally listed on an HR website. I was also presented with 2 unadvertised full job opportunities, as my contacts reached out to me telling me I may be a good fit for the role.
You never know what conversation or person will lead you to an opportunity. Students, professors, faculty, and contacts made along your journey can all help you achieve your goals. Always keep an open mind and never close any doors on past relationships in your professional world.
2). Engage in Your Classes
Some students are content sitting in class and absorbing the material by taking notes frantically and remaining quiet. Other students raise their hands at every question, dominating the class discussion without much rhyme or reason to what spills out as answers.
I suggest you find the happy medium between these two extremes. I used to be the student that was content to idly absorb the information through note-taking, succeeding in classwork but not ever really asking questions or giving my input in collaborative discussions of topics. Engagement in your classes is imperative to gaining the most value you can out of not only your knowledgeable professors but also your classmates. You should really approach your classes as a full-time job. If that isn’t your priority, perhaps you’ve taken the wrong approach to B-school.
3). Work Hard, Play Hard
Don’t kid yourself: MBA programs are a lot of work. From case studies to group projects in coursework and student organization meetings and job searching, not much free time is available for MBA students. Ensuring you meet your career and academic goals while immersed in the MBA program is a challenge. One of the most important steps in this process, however, is taking some time for you.
Having down time for you allows you to feel recharged and refreshed after a grueling schedule. Even if it’s just for a couple hours, it’s important to step back from your work and enjoy yourself. You are likely in a college town full of opportunities that allow you to escape your hectic schedule for a bit of time. For example, you are sure to be able to attend an student athletic event or you are almost guaranteed to be able to sit down at a local pub and sip a fine brew.
Whatever way you like to relax and/or have fun, make sure you fit in time for it. It is invaluable to start each week refreshed, relaxed, and determined to start your week.
Chris Behrens is a December 2012 Crosby MBA graduate, concentrating in Marketing Analytics. He was on the Crosby Analytics Society executive board, a Crosby Ambassador, and an Honors Graduate in the Crosby MBA program.