By: Mike Weppler
As the new year arrived, I was prompted to reflect on 2016, highlighted by my experience as a one-year Notre Dame MBA student. It has been intense and challenging, yet fun and rewarding. I have learned the ABCs of surviving and thriving in the MBA world, and I hope these lessons will help you to succeed in your Notre Dame MBA experience:
A for Academics: Wanting to take every course is natural. Unfortunately, that leaves little time for anything else. To focus, I asked these questions: What is most important to learn for my career? How do I supplement my strengths? How do I shore up my weaknesses? What will be an interesting experience to cement valuable skills in my mind?
B for Being: Rule No. 1 is to own your well-being. The most critical error in my first seven months here was not regularly scheduling time to maintain my personal well-being. Life in a top-tier MBA program means an unusually diverse array of opportunities in your inbox. Saying “no” is a struggle but necessary to survive.
C for Career: While you do not want to neglect job opportunities, you also want to stay true to your purpose for earning an MBA. I came to school singularly focused on a career transition into consulting. Though I was tempted to apply for other roles, I recognized that was not why I came to Notre Dame. Meanwhile, a good friend started out focused on consulting yet open to other opportunities. He has since discovered he is a much better fit on another career track.
D for Deep Friendships: Cultivating valued friendships adds depth to the MBA experience. Seven months after arriving on campus, I know each of my one-year classmates on a first-name basis, and many I now consider friends. Though B-school acquaintances are often considered for their networking value, I have found the greatest value in selecting a few close friendships.
E for Extracurriculars: Selecting activities that both aid in career preparation and enhance the overall MBA experience can be challenging. Limiting your number of activities to two or three gives you greater motivation to succeed in each one and enhances the power of extracurricular-related stories you tell in job interviews.
Mike lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, prior to business school. He is concentrating in consulting and business leadership, and attended Miami University (Ohio) for his undergraduate studies. His favorite Notre Dame memory is working with peer teams to come up with creative solutions to “live” cases. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.