Advice to First Years from the Class of 2016

We’re officially second-years!

Flashback to June 2015: We had just finished final exams and final projects for Spring Quarter…which meant that we were done with the first year of our MBA program. We were officially second years! A couple of students from the Class of 2016 were asked to talk about what the first year of our MBA program was like, and if we had any advice for the Class of 2017.

I had the opportunity to meet many of them when they were prospective students, and I saw that Foster is attracting some truly remarkable people. I strongly believe that it is our role to pass on the lessons that we’ve learned through our career journey. In other words: our ceiling should be their floor. So, it was a no-brainer to help with the video.

It’s September now, and the Class of 2016 is holding on to the last vestiges of the summer break. Most of us are finished with our amazing summer internships, where we applied our hard-earned MBA knowledge in new industries and new careers. At my internship at Nike, I was presented with plenty of business challenges and problems. Prior to the MBA, I would probably have had no idea how to even get started! Instead, I saw a ton of opportunities and solutions, and understood the tradeoffs for each approach. Our class called this the “thank god for (insert Professor’s name here) moment.”

For the last several weeks, the Class of 2017 has been receiving a firehose of information through a bevy of pre-MBA preparation courses. Hard to believe that we were in their shoes a year ago. We were still getting to know each other, spending every night at club happy hours, and meeting our first-quarter teams. I remember having some of the best conversations of my life with my classmates during that time.

In addition to the advice in the video above, I would highly recommend that you read the following letter that’s been passed around Stanford GSB for the past 20 years or so. The advice in this letter holds up over time, and I used it quite a bit to guide my priorities during my first year. Thanks to this letter, I really don’t have any regrets for the first year.

Our first year of the MBA is still fresh in our minds, but we’ve come a long way. The arrival of the new class truly allows us to gauge how much progress we’ve made in just a short amount of time, and reinforces just how valuable this MBA has been for me. Best of luck to the Class of 2017, enjoy the ride!

About the Author

nelson tang portrait Nelson Tang, Class of 2016, is an 8-year Air Force Veteran who is now focusing on marketing and brand/product management. Find out more about Nelson at