Reflections on my first quarter
By Nick Pernisco
As the days shorten and we head into the holiday break, I think that now is a good time to reflect back on my first quarter as an Evening MBA student at Foster. To say that I’ve been challenged in new and interesting ways would be an understatement. I hadn’t been in a degree program in over 10 years and it took some time to adjust, but with the finish line in sight I can say without a doubt that I’ve had an incredible time.
Here are some of the things I learned this quarter.
- Ambiguity is the order of the day. As with life, things are not always clear cut and tidy in business. There’s almost never one right solution or approach, and sometimes you need to make decisions without having all of the relevant information. Our first quarter classes really delivered this message – to succeed, get comfortable with not having all of the answers.
- There’s no “I” in team. Most everything we do is team based – even when you’re not working on a team assignment you study as a team. Reaching consensus in a group of smart and experienced people can be a really difficult task, but my team has been amazing – Aaron, Darius, Pete’ and Bing are the best teammates I could ask for. In fact, most of my classmates love their team as much as I do. We build on each other’s strengths and are better as a team than alone.
- Leading in partnership. My classmates elected me and my classmate Tyson as class representatives, and we’ve had a blast working together to make the MBA experience as amazing as it can be. Two people with different ideas but with a common goal can work together, and thrive.
- Socializing – it’s what’s for dinner. Academics is only about 50% of the MBA. The other 50% is socializing with classmates, alumni, and business leaders. My classmates are going to be my primary professional network for my entire career, and I love getting to know everyone. Happy hours every week, class-sponsored sports, monthly TGs, random trips to the bar after a team meeting, even a scavenger hunt – all necessary if you want to maximize your experience.
- You get what you give. If you’re just there for the piece of paper you get in three years, you’re going to miss out on a lot. The more effort, time, and energy you put into the experience, the more you’ll get out of the program. I made it a point to attend every career management workshop (although I’m not looking for a job), go to as many networking events as possible, join the clubs that looked the most interesting, and connect with people in other classes and programs. The more you put yourself out there, the higher the chances of having a serendipitous encounter that just may change your life.
And here is some advice I received from upperclassman and which I think helped immensely.
- Be sure to make time for yourself. Between family, school, and work, you need to find time to just turn off your brain. Don’t feel guilty taking a weeknight to just veg in front of the TV or play a board game. You’ve earned it.
- Don’t take it so seriously. We are all committed and want to do well, but don’t lose perspective – it’s just school. This is where you can make mistakes with minimal consequences. One low score won’t make or break you. Stop yourself once in a while and make sure you’re enjoying yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to keep your options open. There are so many opportunities in the program, if you close yourself off to new experiences you are selling yourself short. I came in laser-focused on entrepreneurship and global business, and though that’s still my focus I also never thought I’d actually like accounting. I’m also looking forward to learning more about careers in consulting and marketing.
Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience. Yes, I’m exhausted and look forward to the winter break, but I’m also excited about what awaits us in winter quarter.