5 Lessons I Learned During my Core Semester
Since starting business school last August, the time has flown by so fast. It feels like just yesterday my cohort started our Full-Time MBA journey. Throughout my first semester, I was overwhelmed. It felt nearly impossible to effectively manage my time adjusting to academic rigor, establishing new relationships despite social distancing in a global pandemic, and transitioning to a new learning environment, all while maintaining some degree of normalcy in my home life. In the midst of it all, I couldn’t see how I’d be able to get through. Now that I’m on the other side, I feel a huge sense of gratification for the process and fruits of that labor.
The core curriculum is the heart of the Goizueta MBA program. It’s during core where first-year students are thrust into management theory and practice across a range of subjects including analytics, strategy, and managerial finance, just to name a few.
The intensity of our core curriculum focuses on business fundamentals and the leadership, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are critical to success during our summer internships and post-MBA. At Goizueta, “core” is comprised of three blocks jam-packed with ten courses that individually phase in and out after blocks one and two, respectively. “Core” is challenging; however, the beauty in challenges is that they force us to grow, overcome and transform. Here are five lessons I learned during my core semester:
- Give yourself the grace to make mistakes and learn.
Stepping into the MBA classroom is a transition, and you will feel the physical and emotional toll of it. Being surrounded by other smart people can make you feel inadequate, and you can easily fall victim to Imposter Syndrome. It’s completely normal to feel confused and believe that you’re the only person struggling. You’re not. Instead of comparing yourself, use this time to find ways for you to blossom in your own way. You bring value to the table, be confident in that no matter what.
- Understand your “why.”
It’s easy to throw your hands up in defeat when the going gets tough. When you feel backed against a wall in your studies, it’s important to remember why you started this process. I stayed encouraged by remembering the goals I set for myself and trusting that to reach that destination I had to go through some valleys.
- Feedback is a gift.
We heard this saying often during our first semester, and there’s a reason for it. The only way to grow is to increase your self-awareness and recognize areas in which you can improve. An easy way of accomplishing this is through feedback. Ask for it, listen to it, and apply it. After all, feedback truly is a gift.
- Don’t “Smash the Watermelon.”
This saying comes from the Goizueta IMPACT class. One of the key lessons I learned is the importance of asking the right questions. Asking questions helped me not only to understand the subject matter better, but it helped me to think more holistically when trying to solve problems in the business setting. Asking good questions can be the difference between producing good work and high-quality, high-impact work.
- Don’t forget to have fun!
At the end of the day, school is hard work and hard work deserves a reward. Your MBA program will push you to your limits and you need balance to avoid burnout. This is probably the last time you’ll ever be in school with the liberty to explore new experiences in a low-risk environment. Don’t get bogged down by the books, go to conferences, beach week, and ski trips—anything that prioritizes self-care and time to socialize with friends, classmates, and other loved ones.