Finally… Living the MBA life…

Before coming for an MBA at Tepper, I was apprehensive of tiring days and long nights. However, Mini 1 didn’t seem as tough as feared. Mini 2 was good too. Mini 3 has turned out to be the actual MBA experience I came looking for. Club activities, Classes, Assignments, Recruiting and Networking. Balancing these 5 elements at MBA is the ultimate skill you can aim for. I am satisfied to see myself progressing in this direction.

One of the most satisfying experiences has been getting the roles that I planned to take at Tepper before coming here. Robber Barons, the weekly student magazine at Tepper, seemed fun ever since I read about it. Now that I take on the chief-editor’s role, I am living a part of my Tepper dream. Similarly, while watching the International Festival 2013 video on YouTube before coming to Tepper, I looked at the emcees and imagined myself hosting the show for the coming year. So far, it looks like it’s going to come true too. I am also involved in the Welcome Weekend committee which is really exciting as I missed out on my Welcome Weekend, being in India. I remember posting a comment on Facebook before the 2013 Welcome Weekend – “Guys, please take a lot of pictures and share with us so that we know what is happening during the Welcome Weekend”. Guess what, that’s what I am going to do in this event. I am going to make sure that all those students who cannot attend the event get a lot of updates, pictures and videos from the event so that they can be a part of it too. I see a lot of my what-if plans and ideas taking shape in the form of actual responsibilities at Tepper. It’s extremely satisfying to say the least.

This experience has made one thing very clear – MBA is not a magic wand. You come here with skills and interests that you have developed for 25-30 years of your life. During the MBA, More than developing new skills and interests, you learn how to transfer them to different environments. And that makes me believe that MBA is more of a transition than a regeneration.

I have finally begun to immerse myself completely in the MBA life and am sure that despite the challenges, it is going to be a terrific experience!

Mini 3 – Intern(al-friend)ship search!

Over the past 7-8 months, I have realized that every mini comes with a characteristic. Every mini can be labeled with a single word. Mini 1 was all about the ‘Learning’. Beginning of everything. New friendship, new place, new people. Learning at every stage. Mini 2 was all about ‘Applying’. More than applying knowledge, it was about applying yourself. Applying yourself to set and get goals. Applying yourself to surge ahead, applying yourself to differentiate yourself.

Mini 3, the toughest mini according to many MBA students at Tepper, is all about the ‘Search’. Searching yourself, searching a place for yourself, searching for ways to attain your goals, searching for answers for the failure that you encounter.
And if you ask first year students for the one word that describes Mini 3, they will say – Internship Search.

But I have realized that it is the most important time of the first year at MBA not because of its importance in the internship search process but because how it separates men from boys and pushes them to endure and continue. This mini can be extremely exhausting and taxing; it can give you sudden joy and break your dreams the next moment. It can motivate you to reach for the sky and before you know leave you on the ground searching for reasons for the great fall. And that’s why this mini is also about how you back yourself, how you motivate yourself, how you bounce back, how you emerge from ashes, how good a friend you are of yourself… This mini which is all about Internship Search is also about Internal Friendship search.

I know for sure that the people who will come out of this phase with flying colors are those who have a great friend rooting for them inside themselves. I wish everyone a great intern(al-friend)ship. Go and find one and the success will follow.

Mini 2 – Diwali Party – Mid-Terms – Thanksgiving

If Mini 1 went like a breeze, Mini 2 is passing like a hailstorm. It’s cold, it’s harsh, it’s fast!

After one month of gap, here comes a mega update with all the events from Mini 2.

Within a week of commencement, mini 2 had people overwhelmed with classes, assignments, networking events and interview preparation. Thanks to the consulting club at Tepper, I can track my growth in terms of interview preparation. It requires significant effort and diligence though.

Some of the people have also been found to be frustrated by the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day… 

Out of all the subjects in Mini 2, Operations and Optimization are my favorite so far. Not because I am from Tepper and I like Quant heavy subjects. Because, I am from Tepper and there are some of the best faculty here in those subjects. You might say what is the difference. There is! Finance is interesting but other than professor’s jokes in the class, there is little that people understand in his class. 

Diwali Party: Recently, we had a Diwali party at professor Kekre’s house. It is one of the most awaited events at Tepper and people fall over each other to make it to the event. The popularity of the event can be judged by this simple fact: when the registration for the event opened, 100 tickets were sold out in 10-15 seconds. People were waiting with a stop watch for the link to be activated. Yes, true story! I didn’t have to worry about it as I was performing in the event. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the number of people who can attend it and many of our classmates missed out on this event. We had cultural events with food, drinks, firecrackers and dance in the party.

Mid-Terms: In Mini 2, the mid-term comes before you even learn how to spell the name of some of the professors. We just finished with our mid-term exams. Now if some of you are wondering how does an exam in MBA course looks like, as I used to wonder, let me give you a brief overview: all the exams are pen and paper exams. Most of the subjects are Quantitative, so you will have numerical problems that you will solve on the question paper(with white spaces for answers) itself. Some of the subjects are purely theoretical such as ‘Managing People and Teams’, ‘Corporate Strategy’ etc. for which you will have to either write a case analysis paper or will have to submit regular assignments that are graded. For such subjects, there are no exams. Right now, out of 5 subjects this mini, we have exams for 3 subjects.

Thanksgiving break: Two days from now, we will have a 5-day break for Thanksgiving and before we could start giving-thanks to our stars for such a timely break, we have realized that the resumes for internship positions are due from 1st week of December. Now that means a number of hours in resume preparation and cover letter writing. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving break will help us focus on our internship related work. 

Hopefully, thanksgiving break will also give me a chance to share something outside of the regular stuff about Tepper on this blog. Looking forward to it.

 

Mini 1: Well begun is 1/8th done!

Mini 1, the monster… Mini 1 the Max of the all the Minis… Mini 1 the first and the mightiest blow that will make you stronger… Mini 1 the….

I don’t remember why but before coming to Tepper these metaphors couldn’t even begin to describe the devil that Mini 1 was hoped to be.

Thankfully, all of it was exaggerated. A week back, Mini 1 ended with cheers and smiles all around. After the last exam, everyone looked as happy as guests in a wedding. I am not sure if the smiles were for the easy questions that were asked, the end of exams or the party in the evening!

If you ask me how do I feel after completing 1/8th of my course, I would say – I don’t think I have mastered the subjects like Economics and Accounting, but I now I can understand the jargon (some say that’s what MBA’s are supposed to do). I don’t think I have developed a knack for business strategy, but I can now form an opinion about why a company did something that it did. Not bad after 3 months of MBA!

Right now there is a break and people are on various treks – consulting, finance, business and technology, marketing etc. I didn’t go to the trek, not because I am yet to figure out what I want to do but because I felt the thing that I wanted to do would be helped much better if I stayed back and worked on my interviewing skills. So far, it hasn’t looked like a bad decision.

Mini 2 is supposed to start next week. I can’t wait to attend Professor Kekre’s class. During the base camp, even in a short session he got people excited about ‘operations’. It would be nice to see him in action. If there is one professor that I feel I can mimic the best, it would be him. I just hope I don’t notice his mannerisms so much that I miss what he is saying!

Mini 2 should be a bit different. With little networking that we were supposed to do during Mini 1, it was more about getting good grades. With the networking that we are supposed to do with alums and prospective employers while working on our interviewing skills in the next 2 months, I am sure Mini 2 will take the focus away from grades for some of us (some would say it applied to them in Mini 1 itself!).

Whatever happens, nothing can beat this feeling of getting through mini 1 with good grades (yes, we got the grades!). And right now, people are celebrating the glory by either meeting and partying in Boston, New York, Seattle and other trek locations or having a relaxed time in Pittsburgh; nobody’s complaining!🙂

Mid-Term Madness

If I would ever give a metaphor for Mini 1 it would be a baby throwing blows at you and growing really really fast. Soon, it turns into a young boxer almost knocking you out…

So, mid-term exams are on. Out of 5 subjects, we have 3 subjects for mid-terms. It’s funny how suddenly even after almost 10-15 years of high school, you start worrying about grades, start comparing yourself to others on the basis of the marks that you scored. But, it happens. Right now as I write this, there are so many among us who are discussing their silly mistakes in Probability and Statistics exam or the marking scheme of Managerial Economics.

Despite all this, Mini 1 is not as scary as it sounded before coming to Tepper. And it’s not that I am not loaded with work. Right now, I am working on 2 case studies in parallel, preparing for the mid-term, preparing for Tepper’s Got Talent competition (cultural event), attending all the classes (so far), attending all the club events and corporate presentations. Life is suddenly bubbling with activities and events. But I am not complaining. I had been shit scared of Mini 1 when I read about them on blogs or hear from the seniors. But, that gave me the courage to keep on saying – “This is nothing. Wait for the real one…” I hope the wait of the real one never ends.

All the best to those who are planning to come to Tepper and preparing their applications now!  :-)

Friends, Food, and FOMO

Image

Basecamp finished a few days back and we are attending classes now. The parties that were everywhere during the Basecamp have turned into events organized by various clubs. All these events are supposed to serve two purposes – 

1. Informing the first years about clubs at Tepper

2. Giving them a chance to connect with the second years and learn more about their roles in the club, their internship experience and the right approach for internship.

Now with every event, there come three things: Friends (peer pressure), Food (free!), and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Here’re all of them in detail:

Friends or Peer pressure : There are a lot of events that you will hear about through word of mouth. No matter how well organized or well connected you are, there are bound to be chunks of information that would fall out of your basket of awareness. Now, one of the downsides of word of mouth is that, they always come with an opinion – the opinion of the informer. So you may often hear sentences like – “Oh yes, it’s a GFA event!!! A must attend for all of us.” or “Uh, it’s a public speaking club event. I would rather attend the corporate presentation happening around that time.” And such comments often lead to peer pressure. At times, when you are confused, when you really can’t tell the difference between two conflicting events, the peer pressure may lead you to one event avoiding the other. Unless you are very sure about your priorities, peer pressure plays an important role in what you may want to attend and what not.

Food : One of the key highlights of these events is free food. For some of the events, especially the ones that are squeezed in the lunch hour, having food makes sense. But there have been events, where food was not absolutely necessary, but was there. I have begun to realize that it might be more for enticing the young ones at Tepper, who still love pizza and the free sodas. Free food is more or less a norm at all the events. 

FOMO : FOMO is one of the most crucial aspects of the MBA life – the Fear Of Missing Out. It pervades the very fabric of your day to day decisions. Thanks to the FOMO syndrome, you are constantly evaluating the worth of a social event with respect to another. Thoughts like “What if I don’t go to the event? Will I miss meeting some of the new people?”, “I may miss the tips and tricks of getting an internship if I don’t go to this club event”, “What if some senior gave a golden trick and I was not there” and so on…

FOMO doesn’t stop at this. In some of the lesser mortals, it transforms into FOSO – Fear Of Successful Others, where you start fearing other’s success more than your own failure. Whether you have FOMO or FOSO, one thing is sure that you are attending more events than you can handle or should attend. 

But as some say, it’s still the first week of first year. Make the best out of it. Go out, meet new people and build a network. The events will come and go, but you have to know how to use them best for your own benefit.

I just have one thing to say – if you decide on attending events based on Friends, Food or FOMO, you don’t deserve to be here! 

Camp Guyasuta

Image

 

Photo: (Courtsey) Jerry Hseih

On a cloudy cold morning our batch boarded the bus and left for Guyasuta. For a person like me who had spent his last 6 years staring at a computer in the office, outdoor adventurous activities can be quite nerve-racking. But that is exactly the idea behind those challenging activities that were planned for us at Camp Guyasuta. The idea was to get out of our comfort zone and try something new, something beyond our perceived ability. Eventually, as I got out of my comfort zone doing those activities, I rediscovered the child in me that used to roam around the hills in the coalfields of eastern India. And it was not just me. There were many among us who caught a glimpse of their childhood that day. It was quite an experience.

Camp Guyasuta is located in Sharpsburg, hardly some distance from Pittsburgh. It was just half an hour drive away from Tepper. It was almost drizzling when we got there. After reaching the camp we were asked to quickly assemble in our teams and start the activities. Almost all of the activities involved teamwork, strategy, communication, and physical and mental strength. This was an opportunity to work with a diverse group of people. I had my reservations about how the activities would turn out to be and how I would work with people that I didn’t know before. But as soon as the first rule for the camp was declared, things fell in place. And the rule was pretty simple – “There is no personal space!!!” It acted as an ice breaker. Our team environment was quite friendly right from the start. And as far as I know, it was true for every other team as well. I realized something important from this experience – when a team is built with people having an open mindset, no matter how diverse they are in their background or outlook, the team environment is extremely positive. I could see that every team member gave his/her 100% to a goal; it was achieved, no matter how intimidating it looked in the beginning. No question asked, no excuse given. Everyone worked towards the goal as a single unit. In the end, though people were exhausted and bruised, they were happy and satisfied. And when someone asked about the experience, it was almost in unison – “Amazing!!!”

I am not sure if this is true for all the high performing teams, but I saw a high performing team that day. A team where people had each other’s backs; where you knew that there is somebody to support you even if you fail; where no one person was the super star and everyone was an achiever; where it was OK to make mistakes while putting in your sincere effort; where people appreciated if you went the extra mile to help the team. And that is the best learning I have taken from the Camp Guyasuta experience. I saw how a team becomes an invincible force when personal agendas are set aside in the interest of the team goal.

I had heard about the strong sense of community among Tepper students, and I am glad that I have begun to see that right in the first month of being here. It’s turning out to be a community that yells right in front of your face – “Go on… Don’t worry… We have got your back!”