Sometimes, it can be difficult as a prospective student to get a feel for the day-to-day life of a business school student. When I was first visiting schools, info sessions seemed to deliver similar messages, yet it was still hard to fully visualize. The most useful moments, for me, were when I had the opportunity to speak with current students about their background, daily life as a student, and students’ future plans.
With that in mind, here are some adjustments in lifestyle I’ve experienced since starting business school at Columbia Business School (CBS) about six weeks ago:
Carrying a backpack, having a locker, using pen-and-paper to take notes again
During the first week of orientation, we received our CBS-issued book bags, nametags, and notebooks. Going from working in a corporate environment to carrying a backpack was a bit of a shock. As was sitting in class for hours at a time. With all the applications, networking, and happy hours, I’d nearly forgotten what business school is –an academic experience taught by leading business minds and area experts, and filled with textbooks, assignments, and study sessions.
Networking, networking, networking
We hear so much about the importance of networks coming into school. We are issued official nametags during orientation, and use these nearly every day. We’ve had opportunities to meet with such leading business names as entrepreneur and venture capitalists, CEOs of major banks, and many more. For example, Peter Thiel was on campus my first month on campus.
One great benefit to being a business school student is that you have access to a business network simply because you are a student. Use this to your advantage.
Meeting many smart, motivated people every day
It starts the day you are accepted –you are instantly are connected to a fantastic, dynamic, friendly and successful group of your peers. Every person has a fascinating story. You travel together, eat together, room together, and search for career paths together. As a business school student, much of the work you do will be team-based. This includes group projects, case competitions, business competitions, and if you are entrepreneurial, perhaps your future startup business.
Calendar/email overload and #fomo
Business school opens many doors and provides many opportunities. Many, many opportunities. More opportunities than there are hours in a day. My suggestion is to stay focused on what you enjoy and what will be most helpful to your chosen career path. Even with careful selection, expect your days to be packed. For example, my most recent Thursday looked something like this:
7:00am – 8:00am –Morning coffee chat
8:00am – 9:00am –Networking breakfast
10:45am – 12:15pm: Strategy Class
12:30 – 2:00pm: Company info session/lunch
2:15pm – 3:45pm: Accounting Class
5pm –6pm: Club meeting
6pm – 7pm: Team meeting
7pm –9pm: Recruiting event
9pm – 11pm: Happy hour
There will be days that you may spend hours sorting through your emails, there will be days you wish you could be in three places at once. Embrace this.
Happy hours. Social Events.
Business school is fun!! You may have heard that business school students have a reputation for drinking and happy hours –and from what I’ve experienced, this reputation is built on some solid evidence. The first several weeks of school, we had happy hours nearly every day. For some, who may not have come from happy-hour-heavy work backgrounds, there may be a bit of a transition/lifestyle change. However, again, it is more opportunity to immerse yourself in the business school environment, to spend time with and bond with your classmates, and to make the most of what may be one of the best two years of your life.
Natalie Baer is an MBA Student at Columbia Business School and Forté Fellow Class of 2016.