First set of lessons from the first quarter of the Babson MBA
25 % of my MBA time is over and few lessons have been learned. You can scale technology, operations, a business … but the toughest thing to scale is the human brain. BABSON offers you intelectual transformation, personal transformation, professional transformation.
One of three sections of the Babson MBA Class of 2013
Lesson 1: “Academic success is all about strategy”. Despite the overall satisfaction I have with my academic experience and performance (measured not just by a GPA but by the real skills and vision I’m gaining), I would be lying if I say that I prepared for each and every class the way that I would have wanted. When some of our professors told us that for every academic hour of class they are mandated to give approximately 3 hours of preparation in the form of readings or assignments I just could not believe it – considering that we had 4 hours of class a day! But it turned out to be true for most of the days.
Unlike the way it works in undergrad (at least in mine) at an MBA level preparation is not a “plus” or a “nice to have”. Many students might argue about this, but my personal opinion is that without preparing for class you are on one hand losing money (have you ever calculated how much you pay for a MBA hour of class?) and on the hand you just acquire extra stress and frustration resulting from accumulated material that you never managed to understand. With very few exceptions, if I wanted to be fully immersed in a class, it seemed that there was no option but preparing. So what do you do? It took me few months to realize that it is human not to have the time to cover every reading, every exercise, and that it is all about strategy: a strategy sustained on self-awareness and prioritization. Self-awareness to be objective enough to realize what you are good at and what not good at and thus, devote more time to the latter, replacing procrastination by strategic prioritization. Self-awareness to realize if you are better at participating “live” during classes or rather performing on exams. And so you build your strategy around all those variables.
Easier said than done … I know. I still do not master it, but I guess I still have ¾ of my MBA to do it. “At Babson you earn your degree the old-fashion way, you have to work hard for it” – said our Dean during orientation last August. He was very right.
Lesson 2: “Co-curricular experience is one of the strongest ways to really connect with fellow students”. I must confess that I freak out a bit when I think of all the co-curricular activities I am part of (specially after facing the time scarcity I talked about in Lesson 1!), to the point that I feel compromising my own sanity! I am in leadership team of 5 clubs/groups, plus I have a part time on campus job – and I won’t tell you how many opportunities I forced myself to ignore! Saying “no” has always been one of my top weaknesses. Yet feeling involved in leadership roles and creative initiatives does not only motivate me but also is a wonderful way to mingle with people beyond the classroom. Being part of such groups gives me a sense of legacy for the school and to me this is one of the strongest ways to give back to Babson.
One aspect that also I learned to cultivate and keep cultivating is spiritual life. I am so happy that I could find the service of catholic mass on campus and that (as picky as I am regarding the masses I attend) it meets my criteria for actually returning to a certain church: the priest is a good speaker and they have good music. It seems to me that the Babson multi-faith chapel shall offer the same to practitioners of other religions.
Lesson 3: “It’s never too early to start working systematically on career development”. I know this might sound like a “standard” or even obvious advice, but I just want to ratify it. Building a good relationship to the center of career development of your school as early as possible is crucial; I feel that I could have started earlier as a matter of fact. You might be overwhelmed with classes and exams, but in the end, one of the reasons you are doing an MBA is to find a way to impact society through a successful career, and thus, cultivating your career options also requires time since the very first months. By December 2011 however I have applied to 3 internships for the summer (I know many of my colleges have even applied for more) I totally fell in love with and I am excited to see how those selection processes evolve during early 2012. Babson’s Graduate Center for Career Development is there to help, always, and its personalized approach makes a total difference.
Lesson 4: “Getting proactively involved is the only way to discover opportunities, especially in the No. 1 business school for entrepreneurship”. Being an MBA student in the No. 1 school for entrepreneurship does not make you an entrepreneur by osmosis. Even if the Babson “Entrepreneurial Thought and Action in organizations of all kinds” is immersed in the majority of the academic streams, if you are an entrepreneur you have to proactively search and involve in all opportunities the school offers. I am happy to be part of three which are the Babson Venture Accelerator Program, but specially the CATALYZE CHANGE WORKSHOP SERIES and the Social Innovators’ Action Learning Network, the last two designed and lead by the BABSON LEWIS INSTITUE FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION. I love the experience with the LEWIS INSTITUTE since both of their programs I am part to are focused on myself, as a person, as an individual that plans to start an entrepreneurial venture and that needs to acknowledge her limitations in a genuine way. The cohort of like minded people involved in those programs is amazing and a great source of inspiration. I look forward to tell more about it in a subsequent post.