I’ve been a Broad full-time MBA student for three months now, and to be honest, I’m still trying to figure it all out. We all are. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this life; it’s chaotic, it’s stressful, it’s emotional, and it’s transformational – in all the best ways. We hit the ground running during August orientation, and it almost feels as though we haven’t yet stopped to catch our breath. An avid reader, I haven’t read a book for pleasure since the beginning of August. I’m also beginning to appreciate the value of time-saving services like Meijer Curbside as I sit here and wonder how I’ll fit in grocery shopping today. I’ve been so focused on efficiently prioritizing my time that I didn’t even realize I made 3 separate to-do lists for this weekend. But, as I think about all that I’ve accomplished in 11 weeks, the strides are unbelievable.
My classmates and I completed 6 courses in our first 8-week module. We balanced our cases, exams, and group projects with the bulk of recruiting season; there was a single night in September that I left campus after midnight due to a networking event. Day in and day out, we were refining our resumes, pulling out hair over accounting, and fretting over how best to impress the corporate recruiters due on campus that evening. Despite having to stay on campus until 10PM for corporate information sessions from companies the likes of GM, Ford, Raytheon, Johnson & Johnson, Intel, TE Connectivity, and Wendy’s (to name a few), classes rolled on and so did our academic responsibilities. Refining your time management skills became almost the number one priority, and stress took on a brand new meaning.
One of the primary reasons I chose to study at Broad was the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. It’s one of the many things that makes a Broad MBA unlike any other MBA – and yet, coincidentally, it’s also one of the greatest challenges (and lessons!) you’ll maneuver during your time at Michigan State. It’s a unique predicament to find yourself thrust into a group of 5 distinctly different personalities; it makes homework more time-consuming, makes for some long nights, and often leads to difficult conversations about shared responsibility and priorities. I have found that the most difficult aspect of this, in my group, is finding a way to work cohesively despite our very different approaches. For instance, some people work best under pressure, waiting until the last minute to finish their work. Others work best by setting strict, proactive deadlines for themselves, and the mere thought of procrastination causes heart palpitations. There are those students who will do absolutely whatever it takes for the 4.0 – and then there are students like myself, who are happy to accept the occasional 3.5 if it means I can go to bed at 10:30PM rather than 2:30AM. Life as a Broad MBA means coming together with each of these types of people – the procrastinator, the rigid planner, the hyper-achiever, and the settler – and learning to excel despite your challenges and differences.
Through it all, despite the stress and chaos, the ups and the downs, there is one constant: your classmates. These 70 people who were complete strangers a mere 3 months ago are now some of your closest friends. You will spend 60+ hours per week with them, and you will know them as if it’s been years rather than weeks. We tailgate together on weekends, and our families gather for community events. In three months, we’ve learned from each other about our respective cultures, and we’ve celebrated everything – from Diwali to Thanksgiving, and every birthday in between. Their successes become your successes; their losses, yours. We push each other outside our comfort zones, and we’re there to support one another whether we fly or fall. Broad MBAs are like family, and while your time here will test you and push you in more ways than you can imagine, it will also come to define who you are – as an individual, a professional, and a leader.