MBA Peregrinations

Charting the course of my travels through the MBA experience.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Master of Bipolarity & Alcoholism

What a busy Saturday I had today. After my public speaking seminar through LEAD, meeting and greeting students during Fall Preview weekend activities for DSAC, and attending an industry panel on VC/PE in Biotech and Pharma at Gleacher, I thought I'd be done for the evening. But no, I just came back from a nightclub. Sometimes, you just need a drink. Or two.

No cause for concern though, there will be no raveningly hammered blogging tonight. Only further reflection on this all-encompassing MBA experience fueled by a few drinks. Speaking with prospective students today, I was reminded of my applications travail from a year ago. It was a grueling process, one that I was very relieved to have completed. I determined last year that the MBA experience makes people bipolar. I kid you not, dear reader. One day, you feel like you're on top of the world - one of the shining stars that belongs in the crème de la crème of the candidates applying to the top schools. You're utterly confident of your abilities to rock the world of Adcom with your accomplishments and winning personality. The next day, you're down in the dumps, second-guessing everything that you've ever written in your applications or communicated to Adcom. No chance in hell of acceptance to the top schools - you just hope that you get into the MBA program at Oatmeal State.

It wasn't just me - I knew quite a few other applicants going through the same ups and downs, confident one day and dejected the next. Perhaps its time for pharma companies to look into the mood stabilizer market for MBA applicants.

There would likely be another segment of this market - the 1st year MBA students, recently matriculated, going through the utter chaos of their first quarter. (Um, can you tell that my Marketing Strategy course has started to kick in?) Remember how relaxed I was a few days ago? Yah, not quite as relaxed on Thursday, the night before my Microeconomics midterm. Rather than rehash the carnage, suffice it to say that the euphoria of my epiphany wore off quickly enough. And today, I'm feelin' okay once again. Perhaps its the drink (or two) that I consumed a little while ago (alcohol is the only substance that has been effective in helping me relax as of late). But more likely its the cyclic nature of the bipolar disorder that kicked in during MBA applications, and just continued on as school started. When you're on a high, you can see the big picture clearly and relax about the insignificant little tasks - piddly nuisances that serve no purpose in your grand scheme to become a rock star and rule the world. When you're on a low, you just feel like you're being shit on left, right, and center with no hope of digging yourself out. With the insanity of classes and company presentations, I'm AFRAID to imagine the level of stress in store for us next quarter during recruitment/interview season for summer internships.

So, we'll end up a bunch of bald, bipolar MBA students with drinking problems. But hey, let's look at the bright side here my friends. At we'll have spring quarter and the summer to catch up on our meds, rogaine, and AA meetings.

*Sigh* At least I can still gain some measure of catharsis by blogging. Speaking of which, I finally added Huckle Cat to my list of links - a longtime Chicago dweller and fellow GSB student who has countless recommendations on places to eat and check out in Chicago. I also recently discovered another very creative and often off-the-wall fellow GSB blogger. Welcome to the jungle!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mary Jane in B-School

This past weekend, a very strange thing happened. It started off pretty poor. Friday night, after 5 hours of meeting with my consulting project group and coming up with our presentation slides, I trudged home at about midnight to sleep for a few hours before heading to Gleacher the next day to present. I spent half the day at Gleacher sitting through presentations - not normally my activity of choice in downtown Chicago on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

I decided to spend some time hanging out that evening with a friend visiting from out of town. We chatted, played games, watched a movie - it was such a welcome break from the constant grind of the past month.

Here's the strange bit. After goofing off on Saturday, I had loads of work to do for Sunday - so much reading to catch up on, so many items on the 'to do' list. But Sunday morning I woke up feeling completely relaxed. I realized that I finally "got" it, and as a result I'm no longer a stresscase about school. No epiphany (or tokes) involved in this transformation, its all common sense. I stopped worrying about the countless little things, and just thought about the few big ones. Marketing study group meeting tonight, Accounting HW to do before tomorrow. Sure, I could get to the other stuff, but only if I have time and energy. If not, oh well. Sound like apathy or just becoming numb to the whole grind? I'm sure there's a bit of that. But mostly, I stopped sweating it all and only felt it necessary to deal with a few key pieces of the puzzle.

The only event that I can attribute to this change is my chill night on Saturday. Until then, I was wound up ridiculously tight - little hamster running in circles nonstop on the big GSB wheel. It took being wound up that tight and a hiatus from the wheel for me to realize that it just wasn't worth it to get back on 24-7. There will be times when I'm running for a while, but taking time off is so key to my happiness and ability to see the forest instead of just the trees. I'm so glad that this happened before company presentations started...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

Long time, no post. I've been submerged in the madness of my schedule. I ended up with 3 classes - should be able to handle it, right? With classes held 3 days a week, there should be plenty of time to read in advance of lecture and finish the problem sets, work on the resume and research companies, as well as get involved in a few student groups. So naive I was. Classtime is only a small piece of the time commitment. Let me break it down for you...

[Start Calculation]
[Start RANT]

- Class ~ 9 hrs/wk: 3 hours of lecture per class, 3 classes
- Class Prep ~ 20 hrs/wk: Doing reading and homework sets or case preparation is variable, but anywhere from 5-10 hours per class. So let's say about 20 hours total for now (just wait until midterms start...).
- Study Groups ~ 6 hrs/wk: Along with each class comes a weekly study group session, usually about 2 hours
- Office Hours ~ 2 hrs/wk: Unlike the geniuses that surround me, I occasionally need to hit office hours or review sessions to go over concepts that don't make sense the first time around.
- Career Prep ~ 5 hrs/wk: Various career services sessions - lectures and presentations, resume review workshops (and companies haven't even started their presentations yet...).
- LEAD ~ 4 hrs/wk: Session time and preparation
- Student Groups ~ 15 hrs/wk: Most events haven't really kicked in yet, but I've signed up for quite a few. The one that will likely take up most of my time is BSG.
- Non-Academics ~10 hrs/wk: Social hours or dinner events, TNDC, LPF - the acronyms are irrelevant, they all translate to 'drink and network'.
- E-mail ~ 7 hrs/wk: It may seem like a silly item, but everyone is feeling overwhelmed with the amount of email from LEAD, Career Services, Student Groups, each other, etc. Now, I am a self-professed internet junkie, but I've found myself lately spending much less time surfing and much more time focused on getting through the inbox.

Grand total = 78 hours per week. Once midterm season comes around and companies start presentations on campus, one can safely assume another 15 hours devoted to this, which makes it a 90+ hour week.

[End Calculation]

Is it ANY WONDER that we're not sleeping enough, or that many bloggers are struggling to post on a regular basis? And for those individuals that were a part of your life before school (significant other, family, friends), its a struggle to maintain contact. I wasn't sure how well I would adjust to life away from my family and friends in California. You'll likely brand me a heartless soul for thinking so, but I honestly haven't had TIME TO MISS them.

Some things have already started to slip (reading has morphed into skimming, pre-work being done 10 minutes before class), and more will slip once recruiters come to town. This is why having a focused career goal before school starts is so darned important - you simply don't have enough time to explore everything under the sun and still attend class/sleep/socialize/e-mail/do whatever else 'needs' to be done. My list of 'needs to be done' is quickly shrinking - most of the items have gone into the 'would be nice to do if I had the time' list.

Notice that 'blogging' didn't figure in the calculations... I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet, but it has been relegated to the 'would be nice to do if I had the time' list.

[End RANT]

In other news, GND (Grade Non-Disclosure) vote is coming up soon for us, and I wanted to point out an articulate post by DirtyC addressing this issue.