About the Past 3 Months

So…a lot of time went by fast, huh?

I’m not going to lie, it has not been sunshine and rainbows. Between being really overwhelmed by school, internship searching, and general personal stuff, there wasn’t a whole lot I wanted to share here for the past few months. Hindsight really does wonders, though. Now that I have emerged from the other side of everything, I have new appreciation for some of those rough patches.

I was bumming hard about school for a while. Not so much about the classes themselves, although I was taking a really challenging stats course that consumed a lot of my time, but more about everyone’s general attitude toward them. I’m in a program that really touted itself on academics as a differentiator – I was led to believe that at this business school, the experience is not just about fluffy stuff like expanding your network, but about actually learning something. And I think this is still true if you put in the effort to get that experience (read: be a nerd), but I’ve been a little disappointed in that I don’t think the classroom is as different from other business schools as they seem to want everyone to believe. I have a lot of classmates who skip classes, shirk group work responsibilities, and are outspoken about how little they care about the curriculum. I’m not saying that I want to be stuck studying and doing homework 24/7, but part of the reason I’m doing this whole business school thing is that I really want to learn new things and I take that seriously. It can just be a lot tougher to do when no one around you seems interested.

nerd alert

Thankfully, a lot of my experience seems to have been driven by the types of classes I’ve been taking, which were largely curriculum requirements. I’ve taken a few now that have been incredibly engaging and helpful to me, and – finally! – I’ve taken them with other like-minded students. Even that super hard stats course was worth it as it has super-prepared me for another stats-based class I’m taking now. I must be pretty dorky for complaining about how classes aren’t cool enough here, but it really was a downer for a while and I’m glad things are looking up on that front now.

all nerds

In terms of the other stuff, I’m happy to say that all that dreadful interview prep is over and paid off! I’m sticking around Chicago for the summer, working in brand management for a great company that I’ve admired as long as I’ve lived here. I’m very excited about it – Fingers crossed that all goes well! I will definitely recap my recruiting experience at some point, because it’s just too weird not to write about.

step brothers earnin

A much-needed spring break mid-March was about the last push I needed to bring me out of my funk. I got to escape the midwestern winter blues and head to the west coast to visit some family. It was glorious, and here are some pics:

Here’s to finishing year one of b-school strong!

 

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First Quarter Review

And…Monday has returned. Back to the real world, people. I hope the shock is not too bad.

I mainly spent the weekend recovering from NYE and nursing a runny nose 😦  However, I did remember one major thing I forgot to mention in my catching up post: I completed my first quarter of business school!

It’s hard to believe, but I start my second quarter tomorrow (No Monday or Friday classes for this girl)! With that in mind, here are some reflections on what I’ve learned about a few things (of course, bearing in mind that every school and every student is different), with one sixth of my MBA complete:

  • Classes, part 1 – They mean everything!: Maybe it was the shock of having to study and do homework again after 5 years of…not doing those things. Maybe higher-degree classes are, as one would expect, extra challenging. Either way, class-related stuff felt the most overwhelming to me. Not that I was slaving away on classwork all the time, but it was probably the majority of my anxiety over the past few months. I constantly felt like I was working on a problem set or a project or a reading or otherwise preparing for my next class. This went a zillion times more during midterm and final exams. Brutal.

finals

  • Classes, part 2 – They mean nothing!: Despite how overwhelming classroom stuff felt, I was shocked by how little they seemed to really matter in terms of most students’ priorities. It seemed like everyone placed more importance on networking in order to land a summer internship. Most of my time spent on campus was at recruitment events, rather than in a lecture. I had so many company functions to attend during my midterm week, when asked about one of my exams afterward, I had actually forgotten that I had taken it. Is this a good or bad thing? I haven’t really decided.

grades

  • Socializing: I kept making the same mistake over and over this past quarter. I would happily accept invites to social events (parties, pre-games, etc.) days or weeks ahead of time, but by the night of the event, I always wanted to bail. I have never been more aware of my introversion than when I started this program, that’s for sure. I’m not totally sure what it was, because I always knew that at some point, I thought each event would be fun or else I wouldn’t have accepted the invite in the first place. I think that this is the first time that I have felt really forced to socialize (for recruiting reasons), that given the choice to do it voluntarily, I preferred to opt out.

calendar

I will be honest – Overall, I felt a bit meh about the start of business school. In my head, I know how good this will all be for me, both personally and professionally. It is forcing me to meet new people and friends, learn a little bit, and leave my comfort zone. My career goals as I see them now wouldn’t be attainable in a reasonable amount of time without this degree. But the lifestyle shift has affected me more than I thought it would, which made it difficult to stay enthusiastic about everything during the past few weeks.

But new year! New attitude! I expect things will improve naturally over the next quarter as I begin taking classes I’m actually interested in, now that my requirements are out of the way. And I actually have a good grasp for what my new life is like now, which definitely helps. Mainly, I know that there are lots of free food opportunities, so this can’t be all bad.

free food

Great motivator for staying positive 🙂

Lost Time

Well, that went by quickly. A belated Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to all!

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Our apartment Christmas tree, complete with manger/menagerie.

 

I thought part of the appeal of going back to school full-time was a beautiful, flexible, non-9-to-5 schedule. In some ways, this has been true. With mostly afternoon classes in my first quarter (vs. semester), I technically didn’t have to wake up before noon if I didn’t want to, which was awesome. Making time for exercise was a breeze. And I could never complain about my regular 4-day weekends.

But I miss the definitive end of a typical work day. At least the way I approached my last job, once I left the office, I was done. No work obligations until the next morning. In school, sure I might only have one 3-hour class each day, but once that class ends, I still have homework, study groups, and recruitment activities hanging over my head. I know everyone’s different, but I find it much harder to really “turn off” nowadays. In the most annoying instances, I can’t even watch a TV show without thinking if I should be studying, working on cover letters, or reviewing the next day’s schedule instead. This type of mindset change has really been one of the most sucky parts of my transition to the full-time MBA lifestyle, but one I hope to tolerate better in my second quarter.

happy netflix

Anyway, this is all to say that there’s a reason I haven’t been able to blog over the past few months, and it wasn’t for lack of wanting to. I think it’s healthy, therapeutic, and necessary for my own sanity to maintain some structured hobbies that have little to do with my main source of stress right now. So, I will attempt to not let my documentation of my experiences fall to the wayside. But if it does, please forgive me. I’m probably busy wasting time figuring out how not to waste time.

kim k

Orientating

I am finally, finally at the end of my business school orientation. Hard to believe that it would take almost 3 weeks for 600 adult professionals to get their bearings, but I guess it does.

so hard

As alluded to before, orientation has consisted of lots and lots of meeting new people. I don’t consider myself anti-social, but I am definitely an introvert, as evidenced by the past few weeks. I have no problem hanging out with and getting to know new people, but it’s been super draining, especially after doing it for 7-8 hours non-stop. It doesn’t help that I live in a building mostly filled with fellow classmates and we all end up taking the same train to campus every day. This means that I need to be “on” and ready to mingle almost as soon as I leave my apartment. By the end of the day, I’m just like:

april

If anything, orientation has taught me not to feel weird about randomly talking to a stranger, which I never would have done before.

I’m sure the exasperation with having to constantly small talk will go away once classes begin (again, finally). I’m definitely looking forward to having definite common ground and shared experiences with some of my classmates and allowing friendships to develop more naturally.

ann

Speaking of which, classes officially begin this Thursday. However, I totally lucked out and my personal schedule actually doesn’t start until Monday. Long weekend!

Just kidding, I actually have a few things on deck during the new few days, including writing an outline for a speech, meeting my second-year mentor, and attending a student group fair. Fun things on deck: reunion brunch with Tia & Maya!

Question of the Day: Best school-related memory? Once, Tia and I bought supplies for a get together we were having at our apartment for an outdoor music festival at our college. Our grocery cart was overflowing with alcohol and we were like, “Is it going to be enough?”

ron