MBAnalysis Blog: Welcome to Business School! (Finding Success Inside the Classroom)

In our last blog, we talked about how to get the most out of business school on the personal side, in this blog we will cover the professional and academic sides. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. The most important words for business school: I don’t know.

For those of you who were always the smartest in class or for whom academics was a strength (and that’s just about all of you at a top school) those days are long gone. Trust me, you are no longer the smartest guy or gal in the room. In fact, the opposite may be true. Embrace it. Tell your teammates you don’t understand things, tell your professor you don’t know what they are talking about (in a nice way). You are in business school to learn things you have never learned before so get ready with some real questions.

2. Just maybe you do know.

While there is going to be a lot you don’t know in business school, there is a lot you DO know. Be prepared to share it. You only really understand something if you can teach it, so look for opportunities to teach your classmates about things that you have experience with. If you know stats and your teammate doesn’t, jump right on. Because next week they may be teaching you something you have no idea about.

3. It may just be you.

There is an old joke in business school that if you don’t know who the class jerk is after the first two weeks, it may just be you. Don’t let it be you. Instead, sit back, observe and first understand how things are done before you put your toe in the water. This is doubly true if you’ve been out of school for a while. Even in a case-based classroom where participation is graded, everyone gets a pass for the first couple of weeks. Take advantage of the free pass and participate when you are ready and you have something real to say.

4. Recruiting?! Yes, recruiting!

As will quickly become obvious from even before that first day of class, recruiting for summer jobs starts right away at most MBA programs (but not all). Get started before class kicks in. Go to the career office and introduce yourself. Get the resume formatting rules and rework your resume, have you added your school to your LinkedIn profile. If you want to go into consulting, it’s never too early to start prepping the case interview. As someone who has been on both sides of the case interview, the only way to prepare for the case interview is by doing a few hundred cases, so better get started.

5. Go get a drink.

Yes, it is part of the curriculum! Leave the library and go out and have a good time. As we all know, a key part of business school is building relationships. While that is not reflected in your grades, it something that counts, likely even more than classes. So if your choice is spending more time on the problem set or bailing to go to a bar… bail. And by the way, please don’t plan on getting A’s in your classes. If you do, you are working way too hard.

While there is no perfect advice to get you started on the right track for business school, there is one over-arching theme: make connections. Make connections with your classmates, your professors, your club mates, your city, and even with yourself. Now’s the time to explore and have fun, don’t let it pass you by.

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