As you’re just getting started and maybe already feeling a bit overwhelmed, I wanted to welcome you to an experience that will change your life. I wanted to give you some advice as you get started.
Take time to bond with one another and treat one another with respect. Try to find something you like in every single person and focus on their strengths. At some point you’ll probably look back at this and say that someone has no discernible strengths, but make an effort to draw them out. Be kind to one another – the world is tough enough. You can always agree to disagree and you don’t have to be besties. But if will be much more pleasant for everyone if you can at least be courteous to one another. Trust me, by the middle of the 2nd quarter, the gloves come off.
Some of you will already have a field of interest whether it’s tech, healthcare, non-profits, etc. But look at other options during this time when there’s nothing at stake. You might find something new that is way more exciting just where and when you least expect it.
Driving and parking. If public transit isn’t your thing, there’s a $3/day parking lot underneath 880 at Webster. It’s tricky to get to the first time with one-ways and rush hour traffic, but it’s worth the walk to save money. Use the money to buy anything but a donut. That donut will result in a 30 pound addition you don’t want to have to recover from at the end of the year.
Show up on time every single day, even if you don’t feel like it. I know it seems like no big deal to come in late or skip a class every now and then. But it creates resentment from others and it gives the impression to others that you aren’t taking it seriously.
Don’t work unless you absolutely have to. I was bored after the first two quarters and then took a job. Hah! Those who work find it very hard to be productive teammates and you should really take advantage if you can of having a year of frugality. It builds character! That’s what I told myself…
But be smart with your frugality. Don’t spend $10 on parking, yet turn down a networking event that costs $10. This is your best networking time EVER. When you tell people you’re working on your MBA, they will want to know more and it will open doors to new opportunities in fields you may not have thought of, or thought you weren’t qualified for. Go to those same events as an employee and people don’t show nearly as much interest.
I mentioned networking, but seriously… check out Eventbrite and MeetUp.com. Dare yourself to go to at least one event each week. It’s a worthy investment of your time – almost as much as going to class. (Sometimes you’ll find it more so, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the class.) It’s incredibly hard to go solo, so start by going with a friend or two and build up to going on your own by the end of the year. And don’t just go and sit there. Force yourself to say hello and meet new people. You’ll want to make new friends that aren’t your classmates. Diversify your friends and contacts! I started interning with Keiretsu to see different start-ups pitch their ideas and now I have my own start-up and I’ve met lots of potential investors that never would have talked to me had I not built up that relationship.
Take time to walk through Chinatown at least once. Find the green coconut waffles at the Vietnamese café (there are several on Webster between 9th and 11th).
Take the Free B shuttle up and down Broadway and Telegraph. It’s the green bus.
Take the initiative to organize a speaker to come in – I brought in a serial tech start-up CEO, a venture capitalist, an environmental policy executive… and we went on office visits to Pandora and Autodesk. You wield power as an MBA student, so use it to ask people to come and talk or to go visit their offices. Just having that exposure is useful, even if you don’t see it at that moment.
Gather some friends and head to Jack London Square, the Kaiser Garden, or Lake Merritt for a picnic lunch on a nice day. Take advantage of the nice days early on in the program to form friendships and take in the weather. By February you’ll be missing it. The lack of windows in the classroom can make you a bit crazy, so take precautions.
Watch a business documentary, business-related movie, or TedTalk (YouTube) every week. Here’s a list of ones I recommend:
Indie Game: The Movie
Okay, those are the ones I can think of without going to look, but Frontline shows on PBS.org are also good. I’m sure you’ll find some worthy movies with a tiny bit of effort.
Don’t cheat. Look up the word plagiarism in the dictionary. Be fair to your fellow students. Do you want to run for President 30 years from now and have it come up that you copied something from online? You might think that you’re never going to have to worry about that, but you never know what might be important to others for even the least important job later on down the road. Don’t let something so silly haunt you. Do the work and do you own work.
Alright, I’ve probably taken up a fair amount of your time and your interest is probably waning, but keep this and read it again every now and then. Challenge yourself to do more. Make the most of this investment in your future.