An MBA alumnus from the class of 2019 shares his tips and advice as the current class starts their journey.
Dear Class of 2020,
Congratulations on getting the admit and beginning what I believe to be a “Transformative year”.
Now that you have dived into the rather interesting world of solving cases, storyboarding, T-accounts (No! I’m kidding here), and meeting humanity from different hemispheres. I thought of putting together a rather non-MECE (you will hear this A LOT!), and unstructured rambling of learnings and observations from my own experience. However I do hope that some of this will be useful to anyone who’s beginning their MBA program.
A General Rule:
A big learning that I have come to appreciate even more is the simple yet not obvious distinction between “Facts” and “Opinions”. What I’m saying below, in unequivocal terms, represent my “Opinions” based on my assessment. I speak on behalf of myself. Period! Over this year you might find yourself in situations where Facts and Opinions will be used with great elasticity and interchangeability. It’s an important skill to develop.
Nonetheless, Let’s truck on.
1. First & foremost, remember that you have come here for your own professional and personal development. A person once told me that every single day you get 86,400 seconds credited to your account. Use them wisely.
2. The total cost of program is ~120K CHF and duration is 11 months. Every day you enter the building, you amortize ~360CHF. Financial motivation for those “Bad days”.
3. There will be times when Copying & Pasting will appear to be a promising and time saving strategy for assignments and exams. Don’t DO IT! Remember Point 1
4. Normally, Accounting will feel difficult to significant many. Take full use of the resources at your disposal – E-learning (Khan Academy, YouTube), Batch mates, and extra classes.
5. I found “Strategy” class to be the most challenging and rewarding. If there is one class where you need at least 2 hours of pre-class prep to get the maximum out of the discussion, this is the one!
6. The program has a high academic workload frontloaded on Module-1 which begins to taper off progressively. Sometimes with so much work, it’s natural to feel like you’re going through the motions in module-1 but don’t forget Point-1: Find quiet time to think about your future!
7. Over this year, you’re going to get a lot of feedback from a lot of people both harsh and soft. You will also learn about your inherent biases. The program focuses not only on learning new things but unlearning old ones.
8. You will be writing a lot of new material this year. From analysis of business situations to self-analysis. If you do it properly, you will develop some writing skills which will come in handy during the latter half when drafting your cover letters.
9. An important learning to target this year is being a better “Storyteller”. Make sure you get enough time to practice on the center-stage in front of an audience. The program gives more than enough opportunities and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
1. Initially your colleagues may get “Wow-ed” by your academic, professional, and personal achievements (Maybe you’re an Olympic finalist). However, you will be remembered for your personality, energy, class contributions, eccentricity (applicable to few) and most importantly how you treat others.
2. You might not be able to make great friends with everyone because of various reasons but you can always maintain good relations. As Stephen Covey said friends are similar to “Emotional bank accounts” – The more you invest the more you can gain. This year you have limited time so choose your accounts well.
3. Having said that, if you maintain good relations with everyone you will have a known at basically every continent in the world (not sure if there are MBAs in Antarctica) when you graduate.
4. You might have few or many awkward conversations, because you don’t understand or can’t relate to the culture, the words and the accent of the other person. However, make the effort to engage and break the ice. These people will be your family for 2020.
1. Job Search is going to be easy, and uneventful for some while difficult, exhausting, and draining for others. You won’t know what category you belong to, so better start the efforts now and not wait until June or beyond.
2. One of the things that I wished I had done better was to talk to more people outside of my industry. Conducting informational interviews with people from different industries gives a chance to explore new things that might translate to future interests.
3. I used LinkedIn Premium A LOT! I got my job through LinkedIn. I recommend LinkedIn for InMails, job recommendations, and LinkedIn Learning Job Interview video series
4. The school network opens doors which were previously not accessible. Start early and talk to as many interesting people as possible. I understood what excites me or dulls me not from job descriptions or HR talks but simple conversations with different people.
5. Don’t forget that you have a previous professional and personal network. Make extensive use of everything at your disposal.
6. I favor taking the summers off unless you have an opportunity which can translate to a role in future. Sometimes interesting opportunities may only be open to work permit holders!
7. I found that the alumni to be quite responsive and helpful. I also learnt that it important to briefly introduce yourself and talk about your interests when connecting with them. What is a strict no-no is assuming that alum is obligated to help you!
1. A lot of social bonding will happen over Friday night parties, house parties, MBAT, discovery expedition, and the spur-of-the-moment visits to Lacustre. Go for it!
2. Three books were always discussed in details on many occasions so might be useful to have a look:
- “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
- “How will you measure your life” by Clayton Christensen
- “Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies” by McKinsey
3. Some of you are likely to get addicted to staying in the dungeons after a few months., Make sure you get out of that comfort zone. You can take a walk by the lake, explore the markets or go for one of the hikes (Highly recommend the app Komoot)
As I said, this is by no means an exhaustive list and neither did I intend it to be. Over this year, you will have your own unique experiences and I hope you make the most out of your stay here!
Wish you all the best,
Class of 2019
PS- Feel free to connect with me if you think I’m not all bonkers.