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”Taking the time to learn about your classmates requires effort”
Entering business school last September, 10 days after my daughter was born, b-school represented change. Going to the Foster School of Business was a big step, a step so high that I was apprehensive as to whether I would ever be able to see over it. I was fortunate though to have a daughter and wife to help distract me while I was at home. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of my family's role in my success and survival. Not to go without mention are the other 117 students that faced the same scholastic challenges I did, day in and day out.
One of the overlooked benefits of attending a smaller business school is you have the opportunity to meet everyone in your program. However, despite the intimacy offered by a smaller program, one sometimes forgets to take the time to get to know one's peers. Shortly before school was out for the summer, friends departed, and internships started. I learned something new about a classmate that he experienced at the beginning of the year.
This man lost a family member and got married in the same quarter. I attributed his exhaustion to a combination of his getting married and the additional hours foreign students need to spend studying in a non-native language. I did not think that there was something else contributing to his sleeplessness. After learning this piece of information I realized I was not taking advantage of the relationship-building opportunities that my program offers.
Asking the Stupid Questions
While growing up and during my adult life I have heard many different arguments as to whether there is such a thing as a stupid question. I won't try to end the debate here, but I will confess that I learned it is not a wise decision to leave important questions unexplored.
It is very important to ask questions and to be involved in daily class discussions, speak your mind, and clarify misunderstandings. In business school you are preparing for a career where you will set the bar for success quite high. In order to reach your goals, you will need to constantly learn, identify problems, establish objectives, recommend, and then implement solutions—which is everything we practice in our classes as well.
My point, though it might not be obvious, is that you will be doing these things your entire career, but you will only be sitting next to Steven in Finance, Sarah in Marketing, or Ben in Operations Management while you are in school. Make sure to learn about them now because you will not be able to once school is over.
Make Meeting People a Priority
Taking the time to learn about your classmates requires effort. I realize now that I have not put forth the effort required to really get to know my peers. I can relate to many of my classmates and I know about them. But I do not really know them as individuals.
Meeting new people was not one of my reasons for attending business school. But it should have been. With a nod to my finance professor, I hope to spend my next year getting to know my classmates—while I still have the chance.