If you have considered leaving the workforce to pursue your MBA, you have undoubtedly thought about diving down deep into the dreaded H-word. Homework…. But, fear not! There is plenty of time to get all of it done without sacrificing your social life.
Unlike many of my classmates, I did not venture into the work world before applying to Freeman. As a JD/MBA student, and a college student immediately before that, I have been in school since pretty much the beginning of time. However, the transition from my first two years of law school into the unknown world of the MBA was a little daunting.
In law school, each semester is an upward sloping curve with little urgency at the beginning and frantic exam preparation in the last four weeks. Words like “homework” and “studying” are replaced with “briefing” and “outlining,” and your exposure to “teamwork” is limited to intramural softball games. When I began the MBA program at Freeman, I was both nervous and excited for the challenge ahead. As I look back on that transition, I can point to four things that got me through:
1) Find Your Own Balance
Business school, especially at Freeman, is as much about socializing as it is about academics. In two short years, your classmates will become your colleagues in the business world. Don’t lose yourself in academics. The relationships that you build while at Freeman are every bit as important as what you learn in the classroom.
2) Business Hours are for Business
Everyone has his or her own style for getting work done. What I have found most effective is treating business school like a job. Plan to be on (or near) campus from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for classes, group assignments, club meetings, etc. If you are productive during those hours, you can generally relax and enjoy yourself in the evening. Of course, some weeks will be busier than others, and you will likely have to work late a few nights each semester.
3) Ask for Help
Everyone enters business school with different strengths and weaknesses. Working with classmates who complement your skill set can take the edge off of working tedious problem sets and increase your understanding of the underlying concepts. Comparing answers with classmates can also be a great way to find gaps in your knowledge or improve your communication skills by explaining how you approached a particular problem. If all else fails, office hours are a great way to tie up loose ends.
4) Networking is Part of Your Homework
Finally, make networking part of your daily routine. By building and maintaining your professional network from day one, you will increase your industry knowledge and will drastically improve your job prospects later on. Go to any conferences, job fairs, and informational meetings that remotely pique your interest. Always follow up with a thank you note or an email, and even consider setting up an informational interview. As far as the job search goes, you make your own fate, and laying the groundwork early will save you a lot of stress later on. Never ask for a job, and if you take networking seriously, you won’t ever have to.
Mary Doris Reggie, JD/MBA