Having made it through one year of business school and almost a full 12-week internship, I have definitely learned and grown a lot since I stepped foot into Kelley last July. Hindsight is 20/20, but if I could look back and do it all over again there are a few things I wish I had known from the very beginning:
Going back to school is tough. Attending lectures, late-night study sessions-take a little getting used to. Pick a study style that works for you early. Maybe you like to study in big groups. Maybe you don’t. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to studying; it’s going to take some trial and error to find what works for you. Don’t be worried when you don’t annihilate your first exam…or third. You may have been out of the classroom for a while, so be easy on yourself.
Rest assured though, there will come a time in your internship when you’re combing through data and something from class will click in your brain and help you solve the problem. That’s when you’ll realize it was all worth it.
Leverage your new friendships. In your first couple of weeks of school, you are going to meet more people than you probably have in the last year. These people are here to learn too, but they’re also here to be your support system and sounding board. Take advantage of getting to know your classmates out of the classroom. It can be tempting during the Core to spend all your hours studying and networking, but don’t forget that these new friends are going to be your greatest allies long after the MBA program is over—if you let them.
Try everything you can. You are going to have one million opportunities to try anything and everything you’ve ever dreamed of at Kelley. This sounds like a gross over-exaggeration, but I promise you, it isn’t. There will be different cultural celebrations, speakers, workshops, parties, travel opportunities, and more. Many will require you to get out of your comfort zone, but you won’t regret doing so. It’s going to seem like a lot coupled with your workload and recruiting, but you will never forget these experiences and the balancing act will be worth it.
Use your background to your advantage. I studied vocal performance in my undergrad-this meant that coming into Kelley I felt woefully underprepared. Sure, I had taken the GMAT just like everyone else and even invested in some extra business classes to fully prep for this adventure. However, there was always that voice in the back of my mind that told me I had no right to be there. It wasn’t until I did some self-reflection that I realized my unusual background was actually my greatest asset at Kelley. Whether you studied business in undergrad, engineering, or classical music—when you really hone in on what makes your background unique to you—that is what is going to stand out in recruiting and in the classroom.
Call your mom. Or your dad. Or your siblings. Or your best friend. This is going to be a crazy time in your life. Kelley and Bloomington are going to suck you in as soon as you move in, but don’t forget to keep up with the people who got you here. Chances are they’re pretty proud of you for getting this far and want to hear about your experiences. They also offer a great outside perspective when you have to make tough decisions or when you want an unbiased opinion of whether or not you sound like a robot saying your “Tell Me About Yourself” statement for the 100th time.
Keep these tips in mind as you begin your MBA career. But more importantly, know that you’ll develop and find your own way as you experience your first year as a Kelley MBA.