“You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you chose”
After talking to several alumni, I’ve decided condense their lessons into short list mixed with my own philosophy of how I want to spend these next two years. A while back, my aunt gave me “Oh, the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss. At that time, it didn’t make as much sense as it does now. As I prepare to start my MBA, I’ve reread it as it is filled with truthful and relatable messages.
A lot. Apparently first year is the most intense year, it’s like the Group of Death in the World Cup. The grading is based on a curve system; therefore your grades depend on the grades your classmates receive. Your readings might be up to two hundred pages a night. It will be a lot of work so it’s crucial for you to know your study styles, brush up on readings and use your resources.
Read your case studies and discuss them with your group. Use your group to support you in areas that you need reinforcement and take your time to explain topics you understand best. Take advantage also of your housemates and good friends to create a support network. There will be good time and bad times, both you should share. Go knock on your professor’s door. Ask them questions about class and ask for advice.
I’ve heard it is typical to stay up until midnight or one in the morning reading. But I also heard that if you are a bit more organized with your time and read between classes, you can go to bed by 10pm and get up at 6am to do exercise. That sounds like a plan, particularly, since I tend to go to bed early.
Although free time will be limited (not as much if its used wisely), it is super important to nurture your passions and try something new. Students usually create their own extracurricular activities. For example, football is always popular. Students also organize tennis, chess and poker tournaments and if it all goes as planned, this year I might start a swimming club. Use your free time to learn other skills, maybe a sport you’ve always postponed or learn how to cook traditional dishes from your housemates countries.
Be sure to also learn what is going on at INCAE. Reach out to your professors and take time to know staff. Just like the student body, faculty and staff have loads of international experience. If you are interested in a particular subject, research which professor has experience on it and ask him or her for feedback. There are also a several research centers on campus that have done pretty amazing consultancies. Go knock on doors and broaden your horizon.
Try to keep your life balance. Easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. There will be a lot of stress and pressure and you will need to learn how to handle it. Try to have a few outlets, whether its exercising, watching your favorite TV series, playing music, reading, anything that helps keep your stress levels under control.
Your workload will be highly demanding and you will need to take a break. Fortunately, you are surrounded by a group of super talented and diverse international students who will also need a break. Take a couple of weekends to travel and get to know the surrounding environment and its people. From my experience, when you get to know a team in an informal setting, it improves the working environment.
School pressure will still be around, but take at least one day off and make it sacred. “You don’t want to burn out”, a couple of alumni told me. Remember that the MBA is two whole years and you need to take care of you well-being in the meantime.
In conclusion, Dr. Seuss says it best: “So be sure when you step. Step with great care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right food with your left.”