The starting gun has fired. That is the best way to sum up our first week as Broad MBAs. I’d like to take a short trip down memory lane, back to the first few days of my undergrad experience. There was lots of back patting, hugging, and kisses goodbye. Undergrad orientation is about giving you time to acclimate to a new setting and little is really accomplished other than figuring out where to get food and hang out. Professors have very low expectations of the productivity of the first week, but as you gain your bearings, the program picks up. This was not that type of orientation week. If you are not familiar with adventure racing, orienteering may be a word you have never heard. To sum it up, you are put in a wilderness situation where there are no marked paths and the environment is totally foreign. You are given the coordinates of some checkpoints and the location of your final destination and told “good luck”. MBA orientation is like the first stage of an orienteering exercise. When we walked in the door that Monday morning, we toed the line in an endurance event.
Although this situation appears intimidating, Career Services and the Admissions Staff have been steadily preparing us for it. We are constantly reminded by the faculty and staff that as concerned as we may be about the rigors of the program, we are well prepared for it; otherwise we would not have been selected to join the Broad MBA program. But we are all still a little concerned. Time already seems short, but I am encouraged by the strength we have already shown as individuals and teams.
So, what about the actual orientation events? I would personally suggest a few months of strength training for all the hand shaking. Beyond the networking events, we heard from speakers from all of the major concentrations. Each one gave us a preview of the days to come. No big surprises here. Career Services also spoke with us on numerous occasions to be certain their message was securely imprinted in our memory. We were fed hearty meals and snacks during the breaks, causing me to recall the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, where the children are fattened up to be cooked. The major challenge of orientation was the newest addition to the program, the case competition. The administration threw down the gauntlet and said, “Ok, show us what you’ve got”. I can only describe the way the class of 2010 rose to the occasion as impressive. Although this competition added a significant amount of stress and obligation to the first week, we all benefited from the experience tremendously. Teamwork is a fundamental principle of the Broad MBA experience and orientation follows the same framework. The class, cohorts, and individual teams each developed and began laying the framework for the collaborative efforts to come. During this week the bonds of friendship and professional respect have already begun to form.
Orientation has just ended and classes begin tomorrow. There are many names to remember, many skills to be developed, many tasks to complete, and many goals to achieve in the next 21 months, and we are now ready to begin.