Truly a wonder woman in the rude boys paradise, Corinne Martinez recently finished an internship with the Microsoft Corporation in Washington state. Though not terribly far away from her hometown of Winters, California, Martinez says she discovered a brand new world among her fellow interns — all bright MBA students at esteemed universities across the world. This fall she will return to her editor responsibilities at the B-School’s student newspaper, and her studies in strategy and marketing.
Be sure to find your sense of humor. You’re going to need it. School can be a very serious thing, especially at the University of Chicago, which has a very academically rigorous program. Also, remember that the view from the balcony is very different from the view on the dance floor. Try and spend time in both places. Perspective is very important. Remember what’s going on here in the great scheme of things. And then put yourself ten years out and look back on it. You might make some different decisions.
Know Your Herd
The biggest mistake first-year students make is following the herd. If you’re going to run with a herd, make sure you know where it’s headed. Make sure you know what you’re doing. People get caught up in doing something because everyone else is and they forget to take stock of their priorities and their objectives. Sometimes they go down a path that ends up either pushing them into a class that they didn’t need to take, or it has them interviewing for jobs that they really don’t want.
Some people go to school because they want a new job at the end of it, so they are very focused on only two things. First, they attend as many presentations as possible because their objective is to learn about every potential employer. Secondly, they worry about their grades because a GPA is very important in some professions.
However, some people are going to school to learn and to advance their career. The first job they get is not a life or death situation. I would put myself in that category.
Don’t assume someone will let you know that you need to do something. A lot of times, students assume that because they’re coming to this institution, the school will do whatever it takes to make each individual educational process work. Even if your school is guiding your educational process, you might not like what they’re doing. Involve yourself.
Utilize Orientation Time
The University of Chicago has two weeks of mandatory orientation, with a week of optional activities preceding that. During that orientation time, the objective is to meet your fellow classmates and learn all the branches of the school. Learn who Career Services is, who Student Affairs is, and try to get a pulse on the lay of the land.
Once classes start, the priority is time management because you are just bombarded with course work, sometimes even pre-class assignments, which people usually don’t do because they think they are unnecessary. After the first week they realize they’re behind. Also, every student group is pitching you, setting up booths, and organizing events trying to get you to join their group. The company presentations start for recruiting purposes, and there’s an event you could go to every lunch and every dinner every day of the week for probably three weeks.
This is a different type of time management than you would encounter in a work setting, where someone else is dictating your priorities. Once you get to school you need to decide those things yourself. Is it a priority for me to go meet someone from the company doing a presentation today? Or is it more important that I get my homework done?
Fight it Out Together
My classmates all have a great deal of mutual respect for each other’s talents. We try to build the best of what everyone has to offer. Having said that, there are competitive people. Everyone that goes to business school is competitive to some extent, but I never felt like I was competing against another classmate when we were supposed to be working together.
You always compete against them from the standpoint of grades, particularly at Chicago because, unlike some schools, we have a forced grade curve in every class during both years. Someone is going to get a “C,” so from that perspective you feel like you’re competing. But I’ve never felt like people were not sharing information in order to get a leg up.
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