Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Welcome MBA Class of 2010!

Living right at Kendall Square, I feel and see all the energy emanating from the new class of 2010. I've met several of the first-year Sloanies. Without sounding too bogus and pompous, I wanted to share some tips on "must-have" experience out of b-school.

Meet LOTS of people. And I mean this. All b-schools put tremendous effort on bringing the top talents from all over the place with different experience, age, culture, language, wealth, etc. I'm not even going to claim that they'll be your best friends, but try to make yourself their good friends at least. You never know how they will help you (and you need to help them). The trick here is not to be prescriptive in getting to know people. Put all your bias aside as you meet new people. Get to know them from scratch. Be nice and say lots and lots of smart/stupid things. You'll be surprised how little you knew.

Don't compromise with jobs. I really mean this. I can't even count how many times I've seen people settling in with some random job because they just want some life security. Spend the first-year and summer internship to figure out what you really really want to do, and go for the big game during the second-year. By the way, statistically, people leaving the first job out of school in two years are most likely to be the people who accepted the offer too early.

Move out of comfort zone. For the first few months, you will feel a little uncomfortable getting situated into the whole b-school environment. Then, you feel like you found the comfort zone and settle in. Seriously, try to move out of comfort zone in all dimensions. Take classes that you have no clue about but feel like they'll be fun. Chat with people that you may not have much interest (at least initially). Pick up the phone and call up alumni and professionals. Ask them to buy you (poor debt-ridden) MBA students a cheap lunch. The student title gives you incredible ..ummm.. credibility and reasons to be unreasonable at times.

There's a humongous world outside your little world. B-school students get bogged down by puny things like grades, network, jobs, drinking, dating, prestige, etc., not realizing that there's a world outside the little academic tribe. If you are science research looking for the next technology breakthrough in a lab, it's okay to be that way. Realize that you are in a business school. Yes, B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S. One of the best wisdom I heard at Sloan was to be happy and figure out how I fit into the whole big picture in this world.

Oh, yeah, economy sucks. You should also be glad that you are in school and not on Wall Street fiercely competing against thousands of others without a place to hide.