Welcome Back. Now Do Something
I imagine that the Pesach\Easter\Spring break was as welcome for you as it was for this beleaguered correspondent. With sleep quotients back to some level of normalcy, students are ready to hammer out the last of the semester. Just a few weeks folks to do all those things you keep meaning to do.
Which brings me to a conversation with some new students at the last after-party before the break. The fella has an IT background and wondered what major other than IT was good for his career. Well, I’m no career adviser, and with IT, I’m in that special “scarlet letter” category of knowing just enough to be dangerous.
Seriously though, it’s a valid question we all think about — what should I study while I’m in b-school? My own personal opinion (that you should take with a huge shaker of salt) is that students need to do something. Here’s a little secret: studying is nice and so are good grades, but so what. Really. What counts? . . . experience (i.e. doing something.) You can study riding a bike, or cutting people open, but if you want to hire a bike messenger, or have a tumor removed, you want to know how many times they’ve done it before. You want to know their experience.
Okay, okay, I know. It’s a catch-22. You can’t get a job (or promotion) until you have experience, and you can’t get experience until you have a job (or promotion). This is where school comes in. Do I contradict myself? — au contraire mon frère. Yes, you need to study and learn. But, but, you also need to fail.
What? Let me explain. That is fail (and succeed sometimes) while doing ( as an active verb) things. School is where that happens. In addition to studying, we all need do something so that we can fail, make mistakes, royally mess up, and succeed too. Zicklin is a safe environment where that can happen.
I’m not a crack pot, (well maybe I am, sometimes) but some pretty serious people have made good points on this topic. Some, Dean Sheppard of Fuqua, in a McKinsey interview went so far as to say that the inmates (ahem) students should run the asylum (er . . .school). Well within reason of course. Even better, check out the April issue of Harvard Business Review. It’s cover to cover about making boo-boos. Would you prefer to get your early mess-ups in school or in your first job?
The point is that you will only learn 1% (if you’re lucky) of what you need in a job from your classes. (It’s an important 1%). Take action, get involved, become part of club, er . . . make a post on this blog, now that is doing something. You will make mistakes ( as I can personally confirm), but you will truly learn. Moreover, you will have something to talk about in your interview about things you’ve done, things you’ve accomplished (maybe make a few friends in the “trenches”). You will indeed have experience.
So back to our IT friend, he already has plenty of IT experience. He’s looking for an advantage to move to the next level. The advisory office will have lots of good advice on classes and majors. Personally, I would want to buttress any classes with actual accomplishments and efforts — something that combines existing IT experience with management or accounting or sustainability.
So you’re thinking “that’s nice smarty pants, what do I do ?” Now Zicklin is a big, public school. You’re going to have to figure that out for yourself. Nobody will hold your hand or make it easy. Figure it out, but just don’t stand there. Go make some mistakes.
If you need a little help, here are some places to get started: clubs, GSA, the Graduate Baruchian, the Baruch Graduate Socials, case-study competitions, tax-prep help, volunteering, or strike out on your own. This post is a really long way of saying “come on out and play.” Get involved. Start right now. Make a comment on this post and come to the multi-school social this Friday. It will do you some good.