Two more days until the official start of class (why do quarter systems begin sooo late in the game?) and I wanted to offer my two cents on making the most of my first year. In creating this blog, I noticed that the vast majority of bloggers are full-time MBA students--so, where are the peeps who are doing this part-time? Working, I suspect, and leading super busy lives. Well, I'm no exception, but hopefully, I can encourage others to realize that yes, getting your MBA is important, but don't let it get in the way of your education.
1. Repeat After Me: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
As a working professional MBA candidate, I understand that time is a precious gift---with school, work and family obligations, I can already anticipate the craziness of this juggling act. However, I'm one of the crazies out there who wants to relish in the opportunities that an MBA presents with it. How does one accomplish this? Well, my friend...it's all about networking (or as some like to refer to as "schmoozing").
Case in point: From the moment you begin to think about b-school, reach out to the current students via the school's student clubs. Most schools don't post the current student contact info on their site, but once you browse the student clubs/activities pages, you'll notice a list of emails of their leadership team. I started this process a year ago and I've already befriended a few of the 2nd years. They are a great wealth of knowledge and advice. In fact, they are the ones who introduced me to the Women in Leadership & Net Impact clubs at Davis.
I'd also recommend attending the school's networking receptions. As a prospective and incoming student, I was really able to get a feel for the vibe of my future classmates by attending a good number of these events. Davis really stood out to me as having one of the most chill and down-to-earth group of MBAs who you could really start a good conversation with without having to fake the funk. I'm sure you've been to one of those events where the atmosphere is so uptight that you feel so suffocated and out of your element---the whole time wondering why the heck you signed up to be there when you honestly couldn't picture yourself befriending any of the folks you meet that night. Well, Davis was not like that for me, so I naturally gravitated to this group. In fact, I was just at the Dean's Welcome Reception earlier this week in San Francisco and meet a lot of new faces as well as bumping into a college buddy of mine who is also in same program---what a small world!
2. ATTEND A CONFERENCE
The choice to come to b-school was more than just getting the nice 3 letters after my name, but it had much to do with me hoping to enhance my personal and intellectual growth. Being out of school for 5 years sometimes made me question whether my brain cells were dead or alive. It's so easy to become complacent in our everyday lives and quite honestly, (and I might sound like a major dork for saying this but) I missed the critical thinking component that intrinsically comes with being immersed in academia.
Many moons ago, I blogged about my desire to attend a certain conference this year. Two hours ago, I just finished registering for the Net Impact 2009 Conference . Comprised of the top 30 MBA schools (yes, UC Davis is in the top 30 for CSR!), the conference is possibly the largest gathering for MBA students interested in issues pertaining to corporate social responsibility, sustainability, microfinance, social entrepreneurship and all that other good stuff. This year's theme is centered on advancing sustainable global enterprise. I have no idea what to expect, but from what I've gathered from the 2nd year students, it's a great networking and learning opportunity---so I'm down for anything. And just in case you're wondering, it's also being hosted by the Johnson School of Business at Cornell.
3. GET INVOLVED (somehow)
I know this can be much more difficult to do if you're in a part-time MBA program like myself, but your MBA is what you make of it. If you asked me to look back at my college years and tell you what distinctly stood out in my mind, I would not recount the chemical formula for a periodic element or tell you how to derive the standard deviation for a data set. I would, however, point out the handful of student organizations that elevated my social and political consciousness to help me understand and analyze my own personal and global views. I would point out the thousands of under-resourced public school students I worked with to ensure greater access to higher education and who (I might add) are now becoming the first ones in their families to finish college and also apply to graduate schools. These are the experiences that remain vivid in my mind and I can confidently assure you that the people and experiences I'll embrace in my MBA program will also be the lasting memories I'll have years from now. So, however you choose to get involved, I would encourage folks to really think about how they can make the most of their own MBAs because after all, for many of us, this may be our final foray into academia (at least for a while, right?)
BTW: For those of you who are applying to b-schools, good luck!!!
10 months ago