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Wynne Lewis, Copenhagen, Business School, Denmark
After reading Harvard Business Review’s The Making of a Corporate Athlete by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, I should have guessed what was coming. Our professor transformed into a drill sergeant. He made us complete three circuits of 10 high-intensity workouts ending in a “super plank” that was, indeed, super painful. He then reminded us that class resumed in 10 minutes. We changed out of our soaking athletic wear and got to class. Then the lesson ensued: sometimes you do not have much time in between your responsibilities, but maintaining your body is essential to maintaining your leadership stamina. This was not the lesson plan I was expecting in my first week, but it was the lesson I needed.
Critics are wrong
Alex Singleton, Surrey Business School, UK
I have little doubt the experience of doing an MBA will be very positive for me and those I work with. The syllabus rightly prioritises subjects that matter in companies, such as finance and driving innovation, but are actually hard to pick up. Yes, soft skills are important. Books like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People have made me a better person to work with, but this is surely the sort of material MBA students should be reading in their spare time. Besides, managers study MBAs not just for the content but also for the credibility. People tell me I do not need to do an MBA — it is easier to “wing it”. But we live in a credential-based society. MBA graduates, like everyone, will always be fallible but employing managers with those three letters seems less of a risk.
Tools for online MBAs
Charles Street, Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, UK
As an online MBA student the environment in which I study and engage with students, lecturers and thought leaders relies on technology. Here are some of the basic tools I have found most useful. Adobe Acrobat Reader: used to store an electronic version of the course text for each module. This allows me to read and summarise the material from anywhere, particularly during “dead time” like commuting to and from work. Evernote: this enables me to synchronise and access all the information at anytime, from anywhere, on any device. Digital conversations: Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp. Being able to discuss and debate topics with students globally is a rich experience.
Julia McInnis, Chicago Booth, US
Chicago is a food city and so many of my Booth activities revolve around eating. Chicago is known for its steak houses, Ukrainian and Polish cafés and hot dogs with a dizzying array of toppings. After a year here, I have got my go-to spots for everything from group meetings to networking coffees and Friday night places to celebrate surviving some of Booth’s more exhausting weeks. Food and drink have been at the heart of my best group meetings and the Bongo Room (with two locations in the city) is the perfect place for a long brunch meeting. We usually ditch the laptops, but our notebooks vie for table space with opulent desserts that have been rebranded as breakfast. If cranberry vanilla pancakes can’t bring people with different ideas together, I am not sure anything can.
Internship action plan
Timo Marquez, HEC Paris, France
The search for an internship during an MBA is an important experience for many students. It provides the chance to work in the jobs and places where we see ourselves in the future. During my preparation I took the presentation slides from various career management sessions to develop a “dashboard”, or visual map, with the basic aspects of the process, company details, specific roles and areas for further research and preparation. It has six key blocks: comparison of competencies and skills desired with personal experience; a company’s value and culture, and personal strengths and weaknesses; professional goals related to the company; company information; follow-up questions; general notes.
I filled in a dashboard for every position I was applying for. As I advance in my search for a job, the document will change and improve.