I have a friend who is currently getting his PHD in mathematics at Vanderbilt University. One day I asked him how things were going and he replied “just less than more than I can handle”. After thinking about it I realized that with all his “less than/more than” talk I could have rearranged his response using math symbols (how appropriate). Well, now that I’m almost 2 months into my MBA program at Michigan State I can appreciate his response even more. I’ve realized that the beauty in challenging yourself through an advanced degree program is that you are forcing yourself to operate at this threshold of performance, and it is at this threshold where you discover just what you’re made of, and most importantly it makes life more interesting. So, I attempted to develop my own personal responses to the same question of “how are things going?” I’ve jargonized (made this word up) my responses to fit into the various business functions based on the coursework I’ve experienced to date, so that I can appropriately tailor my response to the interests of the individual who might be asking me this question. So here we go:
A Student concentrating in Supply Chain Management: “How are things going for you?”
Jared’s response: “I’m operating at capacity right now, with a constant eye towards continuous improvement, looking for ways to reduce current time management and performance bottlenecks”.
An HR focused professional/student asks: “How is the MBA program going?”
Jared’s response: “Well I have found that building relationships with fellow classmates to be an integral part of my current experience, where I’ve had to leverage the skills and experiences of others on my team (and others in the program) to help drive the results of my own success, as well as the success of my team”.
A Marketing minded individual asks: “So what do you think about the program so far?”
Jared’s response: “It’s amazing how my own personal brand equity has improved in just two short months; I am more marketable to employers now than what I have ever been.”
A finance guru poses a similar question: “What are your thoughts on the MBA experience thus far?”
Jared’s response: “Well it’s funny you asked that, I actually performed an NPV calculation the other day, using my tuition and books for the total two years as the initial cash outflow at Time Zero, and my future earnings as the cash inflows (estimating a 2% salary increase each year, a 10 year time horizon and a 10% cost of capital) and I came up with an NPV of over $366,000, assuming my calculations were correct, that is one outstanding investment don’t you think?”
An extroverted accounting students comes up to me and asks: “What is your impression of the program?”
Jared’s response: “Well I have found that the key to my success thus far has been to ensure that I keep everything in balance, so balancing my school work, internship/job search, team assignments, and time with my wife, etc. It is when these things become out of balance that I find reason for concern.”
So what IS my impression so far? Well, my response would be that it is truly a collection of what I stated above, I have pushed myself to capacity, I have met engaging individuals who I’ve been able to learn from, I have had a number of interview opportunities to date, I cannot underscore enough how great of an investment this has already been, and there is more to an MBA program than books and exams, I have engaged my wife into my student life, finding out quickly that working hard and playing hard are not mutually exclusive activities.
It has been a pleasure sharing my thoughts with you. More later.
Jared P. Stratton