1. There’s a lot of reading, and you’ll probably never get around to having 100% of the information. This is perfectly normal. I think many programs are designed so that you never finish reading and digesting everything you’re assigned to, but that’s just my theory. In the business world, there are some parallels. When do you ever have all the perfect information you need to make a decision on any project? Use your best judgment and prioritize your time.
2. Be a good team member. Show up on time. Get your pieces done and do a hell of a good job. Be someone that others can count on. The friends you make in the program will continue to be a valuable part of your network beyond graduation, and these impressions matter.
3. Step outside of your comfort zone. Experiment whenever possible. Try taking different approaches to leadership and take on projects that are outside of what you normally do. You have more flexibility to test and learn than you might be able to get away with at work. This means different things for different people. For instance, some people are terrified of public speaking, so classes are great venues for you to give presentations and receive feedback.
4. Take any and all experiential courses. I liked all my classes, but the hands-on learning courses were my favorites: negotiations, leadership circles, capstone consulting project for marketing, and more. These classes help you apply your skills.
5. Speak up and ask good questions. There are no dumb questions. Challenge your peers and professors if you have a different opinion. Have those crucial conversations and have the courageous authenticity to voice your thoughts.
6. Be present. Go to class and events. I paid for every penny of my MBA while also paying for my mortgage, bills, and cars. Every class I missed was worth hundreds of $$’s to me, so if I missed a class, I felt like I was throwing money down the drain. Even if your employer gives you tuition reimbursement, actually attend class. This isn’t undergrad, you should really only commit to an MBA if you’re interested in learning. Similarly, attend the events your MBA offers. It's hard to not multitask, but try to minimize that too.
7. If you’re interested in switching careers or want some advice, take people out to coffee or lunch. Kelley calls these “informational interviews”. Learn about what they do, what they like about their jobs, what keeps them up at night, how they got to where they are at today. Ask for other connections they might be able to introduce you to, but don’t ask for a job. Also, return this favor once you’ve made the transition and be open to grabbing coffee to learn more about you. Help others around you succeed and be their sounding board for ideas.
What’s next for me? I’d like to channel my energy into something productive, though I haven’t figured out exactly what that means for me yet. I’m still fairly new to my current role, so I have lots to learn and enough to keep me busy. I also plan to start reading again (for leisure) and brush up on my French and maybe start learning Spanish one of these days. For now, I’m taking it easy and hoping the weather gets better so that I can enjoy the great outdoors with my pups and husband.
To learn more about Chrissy, check out her Kelley School feature here.