It’s no secret that Business school can be a career and life changing experience for MBA students. In such an intense and rapid 2-year period, students have the chance to gain experiences; opportunities and lessons that can change thinking, deepen expertise, and facilitate growth.
While many students talk about how much they’ve learned or grown from their MBA experience, I wanted to get specific lessons and tails from the students themselves, and decided to interview four 2015 MBA Graduates about what they’ve learned in business school.
Push yourself to the limits
As the President of the Management Consulting Club, Blake Koch (Kenan-Flagler, ’15) took on a significant leadership role in helping his fellow classmates explore careers and opportunities in management consulting. While Blake had taken on leadership experiences in the past, he found the experience to be worthwhile and meaningful because and enjoyed pushing himself to the limit, inside and outside of the classroom. Blake said, “I learned how much I enjoy being challenged and pushed to my limit. Prior to business school, I’d never been intellectually challenged. It was thrilling to encounter a seemingly impossible problem or question and spend time to understand it then solve it.”
Blake’s pursuit of intellectual curiosity led him to believe in the power of asking thoughtful questions. He said, “It was interesting to learn how powerful thoughtful questions can be. Whether it was classes like Sales, Project Management, or Leading as a middle manager, or, in working on a consulting project for a global food and beverage company, it was interesting to see how powerful asking the right questions could be.”
Be Okay with not being okay
Willy Chu (Haas, ’15) spent his time at Haas exploring his interest in entrepreneurship and financial tech. After doing two internships with Credit Karma and Kiva, Willy joined WeFinance as a Co-Founder, and worked full-time in addition to pursuing a full course load at Haas. Willy’s experience at Haas helped him land his role at WeFinance, but it also gave him time to reflect and understand he can ask for help and rely on others. Willy said, “I’ve learned that I don’t need to be in control of everything. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the go-to guy that people can rely on to be available, dependable, and most of all, happy. Over time, it added more pressure for me to live up to that image and only put that part of me on display. Juggling what was at times too much to handle taught me that it’s okay not to be okay and to ask for help along the way.”
Our differences make us stronger
Before Dave Rokeach (Fuqua, ’15) entered Fuqua in 2013, he was already a veteran when it came to working on teams. Between playing college football and working for Senator Jon Kyl, Dave knew what he needed to do in order to help his team achieve success. What he learned at Fuqua was not only does he care about collective success of the team, but also the individual people that he works with. Dave said, “the most important lesson I learned was how deeply I care about and rely on people to enrich my life. The value of the experiences I had was intricately dependent on the people with whom I shared them. Traveling the world, grinding it out in team rooms, pursuing a challenging recruiting path, were all made richer by my partner Meaghan, my classmates, professors, and the administration.
At Fuqua, Dave was surrounded by diverse groups of people, and constantly pushed himself to try new things and make himself uncomfortable. Through this, he also learned the importance of having an open mind and fresh perspective. He said, “Having an open mind is critical to living a rich and fulfilling life. Countless experiences in business school test your ability to take on new challenges, get out of your comfort zone, and challenge previous way of thinking. From learning about new cultures through hundreds of international classmates, to traveling to foreign countries, to taking courses that were not in my wheelhouse, business school helped me deeply appreciate diversity, in all respects. Diversity makes teams stronger, experiences more fulfilling, and life more interesting.
Tenacity leads to breakthrough
When Jack Mara (Darden, ’15) entered business school, he knew he had the entrepreneurship bug and made it a point to exhaust all the opportunities possible to light this passion. After a number of tries, he landed on founding 10Thoughts.com – a content platform that provides people with recommended articles on key topics. During his relentless pursuit of founding a business while at Darden, Jack learned the importance of tenacity that founders must have to see their vision come to reality. Jack said, “The most important thing I learned in business school is the importance of tenacity. We are all going through things for the first time in our careers and “figuring things out” as we go. The people who I see as most successful are those that have incredible tenacity. They may not understand how to do something right away but they will not stop until they figure it out and they will learn quick – they simply won’t accept failure.”