I am writing from the other side. That’s right. I made it. Graduated. Took that MBA bull by the horns and held on tight for two years until the program flung me violently off into the real world – and into my dream job. But that’s beside the point.
After rewarding myself with vacations to Hawaii, Nepal, and Australia along with some much needed relaxation after the grueling and incredible MBA program at Davis, I finally could get some distance and look back at my experience. And I am writing to tell everyone who is lucky enough to still be there that you are doing it all wrong.
Don’t skip class. Seriously, about half of the math nerds in there have done the calculation for how much we are paying for every 15 minutes in the classroom and you don’t want to think about how much you are throwing down the drain if you skip a single one. (Note: I skipped a grand total of 8.) And when you are there, pay attention. Shut the laptop once in a while and take notes by hand. Do whatever you have to do to really listen. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t wish I could pull exactly what my professor said in Strategy out of my sleeve in a meeting, and dear me, I would give anything to go back and master accounting (it is the key to everything in business). And definitely take classes outside your discipline. Make yourself as valuable as you can in your future.
Oh, and while you are at it, please network more. I had an informational interview schedule of at least one every two weeks. I wish I had done three a week minimum. That “MBA halo” doesn’t last forever – and you wouldn’t believe the people you can get to sit down with you while you are in the program.
Now, definitely join a club. Join three! Attend to a club event. Make a difference in your school community. Help set up for an event. Also, make sure you play IM sports – or if that’s not your thing – go cheer on your awesome GSM classmates in the big game. Make a sign! (ASM has all the supplies in the clubroom…)
And play way more. Have a beer with your friends after class. Or red wine, if that’s your druthers. Enjoy the student lifestyle; I can promise you it does not last forever, for better and for worse.
I think what I am saying is: you are probably doing some of this and doing it really well. Do more. You are here for so many reasons – to get a job, to jumpstart your professional life, to meet likeminded motivated individuals, to have unforgettable experiences. You are not actually doing it all wrong, but I guarantee you that you are not taking advantage of all the amazing opportunities that you have in front of you right now.
So, you’re not doing it all wrong at all. You’re doing great. Be present, work hard, and have fun. You’ll be amazed where you end up. I promise.
“Dress (and Research) for Success”
I tapped my toes nervously in the waiting room outside the office where I would shortly be having my interview. I looked down and saw I was wearing neon green spandex running tights, a loose button up shirt, and my slightly scuffed running shoes.
What might have been a nightmare for almost anyone else (equivalent to realizing you went to the interview in your underwear), just reminded me of how thankful I was for the sweat-wicking properties of my interview outfit at that moment.
“Mackenzie?” My interviewer at one of the USA’s major sporting brands stuck her head out of the room. She had a sporty ponytail atop her head hinting she may have gone running that morning and was wearing (similar to my outfit) running tights and a baggy sweater. As I got up and walked through the door into her office, she said with a smile, “Nice tights! You look like you already work here.”
A week later I was suited up head to toe in the most classic corporate America interview wear possible interviewing for a job at a top level insurance company.
While these are two extremes on the spectrum, the lesson is applicable everywhere. Know your industry and know the company culture where you are going to be interviewing. Some more granola or sports oriented companies won’t even consider you if you come dressed in a full suit (“S/he just wouldn’t fit the culture”). Others it would be a seriously bad decision to wear neon green of any kind in the interview.
Before an interview, you should be researching your company extensively online (probably set up Google alerts to know of any recent news), but also talk to as many people as you can who have contact with the culture (second years and peers who have already interviewed, alumni who work in the company, and more).
You only have one chance for a first impression – dress, and research, for success!
Blog by Mackenzie Guinon – Class of 2014