Three Lessons I Have Learned from the Emory MSBA Program
What a year it has been. MSBA 2021 cohorts went through a year that no other cohorts had or will probably go through. I remember how excited I was coming into this program. I knew how much I would learn from this experience as I became more familiar with different programming languages and analytical algorithms. I would execute hands-on projects, translating class lessons into practical applications.
Upon graduation, I feel indescribably excited and bittersweet about how I am finally done. I am grateful for how much I have learned. There is a night and day difference between when I started the program and graduation. I had to pay the price of 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. (even during the weekends), constantly under pressure to juggle different class homework, capstone projects, and expectations from the clients.
As a person who can only do one thing at a time, I found adapting to this new normal a challenging and painful process. However, it is important to look at these seemingly negative experiences in a different light as well. Growth can happen from the seeds of painful experiences.
That said, I would like to share the three big lessons I have learned so that incoming cohorts and prospective applicants to this program can get a better sense of what to expect.
1. Getting along with everyone in your cohort is helpful, but what helped me the most is finding a couple of ‘real’ friends who can support me emotionally and academically.
I believe that learning can be accelerated through a collaborative environment with people who want to see each other succeed. Even though grades in a graduate school don’t play a significant role as compared to the grades for undergraduates, everyone aspires to get the best grade that they can. Grades can act as an indicator to an employer regarding future performance. I focused on finding two or three classmates who were willing to share resources and support when things get tough. So, my advice to upcoming MSBA cohorts is to focus on making a couple of ‘real’ friends rather than trying to make shallow friendships with all the students in the cohort. Remember that teamwork makes the dream work!
2. Be crystal clear on your strengths and weakness when embarking on a group project, including capstone projects.
When doing the group projects, one person is likely writing code; another person is creating a presentable and professional deck. This often requires team members to be crystal clear about what each person is good at and feels comfortable doing. To make sure that time and resources are allocated in the best way possible, it is pertinent that you know what your strengths are and give your time and resources accordingly to make sure that the team can finish the project on time. To figure out one’s strengths and weaknesses, it helps to get involved on every level of the project, from understanding the business problem and data, to writing code, to creating a presentation deck. I would recommend that people get early exposure to the whole project lifecycle and figure out what they are good at and where they feel comfortable executing.
3. There will be no more weekends, but it is still important to carve out time for the self-care routine and maintain willpower and discipline to keep your diet and sleeping schedule in check.
Coming from a nutrition undergraduate background, I understand the importance of a self-care routine, regular exercise, and proper nutrition to fuel the brain and body to push through long hours of work. However, during the second semester that involves working with clients on a capstone project, I failed to take care of myself. The capstone project required me to put in an additional 20-30 hours along with 30-40 hours of solid studying time for other classes. I am the type of person who cannot control my appetite and I tend to have uncontrollable sugar cravings when I am under pressure or stressed.
Though I still maintained my regular exercise routine, I couldn’t get a solid grip on my eating habits and sleeping schedules. This created a vicious cycle in which my stress (cortisol) levels were elevated due to lack of sleep, which in turn messed up my Ghrelin and Leptin hormones (also known as hunger and satiety hormones, respectively). As a result, I gained 30 pounds in a matter of four months because I failed to take care of myself. Looking back, I could still have achieved the same amount of workload without sacrificing my sleep and eating junk food. While it is true that it was super challenging to maintain a healthy routine since I used all my willpower for the schoolwork, I should have put more effort into maintaining my health no matter how stressed and busy I was at those times.
I hope you find these lessons helpful as you embark on your Goizueta and MSBA journey. I am happy to schedule a one-on-one call if you would like to know more about the program from a student perspective. Connect with Sean on LinkedIn.