Calling it Quits at 18 Hours

How grueling can a day in the life of an MBA be? Honestly, it can be pretty bad. What exactly is “bad”? Here’s a glimpse of what a recent day looked like for me as we approached the end of the quarter and classes were coming to a conclusion.

March 9, 2010

6:00 – 7:30 am – Awake. Ironing. Putting the final touches on several Powerpoint decks I’d be using later in the day.

7:30 – 8:15 am – My carpool picks me up to head from Capitol Hill to campus. It’s a few minutes of peace, chatting with classmates, before a crazy day truly begins.

8:30 to 10:20am – Brand Management class. My team and I presenting our quarter long project results – an analysis of The Gap’s rise and fall as a national brand. 20 minutes of presenting and 15 minutes of questions and we’re done with the class.

10:30 to 12:20 pm – Business Ethics class. My team and I (a different team from the Brand Mangement one) present a proposal for Microsoft’s Corporate Responsibility Program for their operations in Italy. Presentation is 15 minutes in front of the class, professor and the Director of CSR at Microsoft, Dan Bross. Our proposal is followed by 10 minutes of questions and some critical feedback from Dan. Unfortunately, there’s still a take home final for Ethics so we’re not done with this class yet.

12:30 – 1:30 pm – Quick lunch followed by returning emails that have piled up in the inbox all morning.

1:30 – 3:30 pm – Finish a team Investments project that is due at 6pm tonight. Our project is a valuation of Murphy Oil Company and, after all edits, is 42 pages long. At the same time I’m also editing our Powerpoint presentation to be given this evening. After the paper is completed a teammate runs off to print and bind it all at the nearest Kinko’s.

3:30 – 5:30 pm – Head off to a different team meeting, this time with my team working on a social media project with Microsoft. Our final presentation to a roomful of Microsoft executives is less than a week away so we’re still working hard to flush out our ideas and put it all into a cohesive presentation. We’re feeling good but I’m always nervous not knowing who will be in the room and what types of questions we’ll be asked.

5:30 pm – Inhaling a quick dinner and changing into a suit before heading to Investments class.

6:00 – 9:30 pm – After rushing across campus to Mary Gates Hall (15 minute walk from the Business School), I get into the classroom and realize I’ve forgotten our final Powerpoint version on a external jump drive on a chair back in the MBA lounge. Oops! Do I have time to run back and get it? No. What’s the next best solution before we present to a full classroom of students and three professionals from local investment firms? A teammate and I quickly edit the version we have on our computer and  throw it on a borrowed jump drive from a classmate. I have time to take a few deep breaths before heading up to the front of the lecture hall to present our valuation. Even after the presentation there’s aren’t many signs of relief – we still have a closed book final exam next week before being finished with the class.

9:30 pm – The day is finally over and I can head home. As I drive, I’m thankful that not all of my days at Foster are like the one that just ended, but confident that returning to the working world will come with comparable hours and challenges.