There are so many opportunities to get involved in business school. Whether it’s participating in a sanctioned club, joining a startup, or creating your own consulting projects, the opportunities never seem to stop rolling in. To help you decide what you want to pursue, Winnie Tran, a graduate from the University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) shares her lessons learned from her involvement in various clubs and activities as an MBA student.
Name: Winnie Tran
School: University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
Post-Graduation Plans: L’Oreal USA (Finance)
What you need to know:
Prior to arriving at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I was told time and again that I would have to decide among the vast opportunities to get involved. Of course, the first thought I had was it would be easy – I’d only get involved with the clubs or activities I’m passionate about. What I wasn’t told was how amazing and enticing many of the opportunities were and how they all seem to fit in with what I was passionate about. So being the eager first year, I got involved with everything: Legacy Cup Captain, MBA Ambassadors, Carolina Women in Business, and Net Impact. On top of that, I took on a research project to understand UNC’s sustainable investing practices and a role as a Social Startup Consultant with the CUBE, UNC’s social venture incubator. Not to mention, there were many social activities. As a first year, I definitely wanted to be at all the social events to get to know my classmates.
As you can imagine, I was stretched very thin. I found that I did mediocre work for class sometimes and my recruiting process was definitely stalled because I was so focused on what I was involved in. At some point during my second or third quarter of the school year, I realized I was involved with so many things but I wasn’t really focused on developing myself. I finally learned to start saying no to requests if I had to focus on other tasks. My experience in my first year helped shape what I wanted to be involved with in my second year. I decided that my time needed to be allocated evenly between my career, social affairs, and academics. During my second year, I only participated as an MBA Ambassador and served as President of Carolina Women in Business.
The lesson I learned with being so involved was finding the perfect balance that worked for me. Business school is all about three things: social affairs, academic, and career. It’s incredibly important to do well in your academics and find the perfect job but getting involved also helps you develop personally and professionally in ways you would never imagine. I also see it as a way to say thank you and give back to the community that has given me so much.
Picking and choosing clubs can be overwhelming! My best advice would be to ask a lot of questions and ask them often. Meet with second years you’ve met when you were visiting schools to find out how they got involved or pinpoint clubs that you may be interested in and meet with people who are in leadership roles. If you find that there isn’t a club you want to be involved with, start a club or create an event.
Here’s how I’ve thought about extracurriculars:
- Constantly evaluate yourself to see what you need to work on but also leverage your strengths
- Think about ways you can develop yourself and set personal development goals
- Find the clubs or activities that will help you achieve those goals
- Reevaluate every quarter, module, or semester to see your progress or understand what you are missing
Serving as President for Carolina Women in Business has really helped developed me as a leader. When I first took on the role, my intention was to recruit more women to business school. Over the year, I’ve learned that I love working with people and empowering individuals to achieve what they set out to do. It has also taught me how to manage different groups/personalities and collaborate with other student clubs. Most importantly, it gave me the confidence to take the lead when I needed to but also fall back and follow when appropriate