It’s been just over a month since I started my post-MBA career, and little over three months since graduation. Two years flew by just like that, with four semesters of classes, a six month internship in Europe, many fabulous trips with my wonderful classmates, and a forty-odd page thesis, the wonderful journey came to an end.
I wanted to take some time before I write about my experience. It wasn’t because of the lack of time that this entry came now, for I certainly had a lot of free time before I started working. Graduation was an emotional time for many of us: it was the culmination of all of our achievements during the two years, as well as the last time some of us may see one another. I wanted some time to be more objective, and not just glorify the entire experience as I surely would have done then.
As I look back now on my journey, I am really glad that I was able to partake in the LGO/MBA experience. These two years helped me become inspired to achieve greater things, allowed me to make many great friends, and ultimately allowed me to pursue my passion.
One of the most impressive things about LGO/MBA program is the people that you get to meet. Were it not for the MBA, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sit in the same room as former executives who helped to price Microsoft Windows, veterans from Iraq/Afghanistan, or the founders of several successful start-ups prior to Sloan. While there are some truths to the fact that bankers and consultants dominate the MBA population, many of them seek to pursue something different than their previous career. Especially at a school like Sloan, almost every other person seemed to be working on a start-up of some kind while they were there, and after a short conversation with them, you want to join them as well. Many of my classmates had a clear goal and were actively working toward it, which in turn inspired me to accomplish more.
For anyone looking to pursue or starting their MBA program, know that all of the options out there are yours, but you must be the one to pursue them. Be inspired, but maintain your focus, for chasing after 10 start-up ideas is as good as chasing after none. Your time is very much limited and between classes, projects and social activities you won’t have that much free time.
Aside from your classmates, another source of inspiration comes from the professors and the school in general. In an environment like MIT, it’s hard to walk around campus without stumbling into someone conducting the latest research in all areas of science and engineering. The Sloan school as well as the institution broadly has vast amounts of resources it provides, anywhere from fellowships and start-up funding to offices dedicated to connecting to alumni and providing access to the top executives at major companies worldwide. Many of the Sloan professors are also working on some very interesting issues, such as Professor Lo’s proposal to utilize financial portfolio management to solve the cancer problem, and many others.
Form great relationships
With this many awesome people with such diverse range of experiences, one cannot help but make some great friendships throughout the two years. Although we’ve had summer teams in LGO and also core teams in our first semester at Sloan, I’ve found that people with similar interests will naturally gravitate towards each other. Some of my good friends are from different oceans, and despite not having many classes together we still find time to hang out and talk about things we’re interested in.
Business school is perhaps the best time to develop relationships with others because most, if not all, of the class comes with an open mind to learn and make friends. However, it still requires time and effort and seeking that balance between networking and the other responsibilities you have as an MBA student.
In a few years (if not sooner) I will have forgotten most of what I learned from the textbooks or course packs of my MBA classes. What will be the most valuable part of the MBA then? The relationships I developed from the two years, as well as the ability to reach out to other alumni and have them give me their open and honest opinions.
Pursue your passion
Everyone comes to business school with a purpose, whether it is to get into a new industry, learning more skills to be promoted to the next level in their current career, or simply to explore options different from the existing career. For me personally it was a way to switch gears and transition myself into operations, something that I’ve always been passionate about. For others it is meeting people who share their vision and want to found a start-up together. Whichever it may be, you are sure to find something you’re passionate about. Take charge, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new methods and ways to do things.
Upon entering business school you will discover that you will always be short on time. The homework and projects notwithstanding, the various mixers and social events can take up a lot of your time, especially if you want to be involved in planning for one. On top of all of those, there are the Sloan clubs as well as MIT-wide organizations you can become involved in, all of which are great ways to form new bonds and further build the relationship you have with your classmates. Balancing that with start-up or research activities on what you’re passionate about can be difficult, and sometimes you have to give up the opportunity to do some things in order to pursue others that you’re more passionate about.
Despite the time constraints, or perhaps because of them, I found my time at business school to be extremely valuable in terms of learning about myself and what I value most. When you have time to do everything prioritization doesn’t seem important, and it is times when you must decide between multiple things you value that you can truly evaluate what’s important and what you can live without. The two years provides many moments for you to take a pause, reflect upon who you are and what you have accomplished so far, and better prepare for yourself for what’s next.
In short, business school is what you make of it. As you prepare to open yourself for this potentially life-changing journey, know who you are and what you want. Even though those things may change over the course of the journey, you cannot pursue your passion if you don’t know what they are, nor are you able to become better than who you were if you aren’t open-minded. There is no such thing as a perfect preparation for business school, so just dive in, “drink from the fire hose”, as we’d like to call it at MIT, and enjoy every moment of the two years. I know I did.