March 29, 2010

The Beginning of Lasts

[Posted by Ioli Stathi-Dedaki, MBA in General Management Class of 2010]

In less than 7 weeks the Class of 2010 will walk. And even though Commencement has long been on our Academic Calendars, we, Second Years Students, are unaware. A combination of hectic schedules and denial has caused the “seniors” to not realize that this two-year program is quickly coming to its end. We are officially in the “beginning of lasts” period.

If you open my agenda, you will find an April full of last events - Cheers with Professors, Spring Gala, Celebration Brunch, Student Farewell to Dean Lataif, Talent Show – along with presentations, papers, interviews, and final exams. I have no time to think how quickly two years became two months.

Two years ago I was in my small country - Greece, working for Kraft Foods, getting ready - with a hint of fear – to move to Boston and be part of BU’s MBA program: a life-changing experience far away from home, family and friends. As it turns out, I had no idea what was to come and the reality at BU exceeded my expectations.

There are many unique ways that this program has changed me; but I will mention only one here: my classmates. The ones who helped me learn; who guided me and supported me; who taught me from their prior knowledge. The ones with whom I spent hours working on projects and studying for exams. The people who shared with me this experience and will walk by me on May 14th. My friends.

In this program, I found people from different cultures, speaking different languages; people of all ages; with spouses and kids. People who got married or became parents during the program. From different industries and backgrounds. With unique interests. Passionate and determined to achieve their goals and dreams. I found diversity, but most importantly I found people who were understanding and supportive. My classmates, with whom not only I worked hard, but also I had all the fun in the world.

Now, two years after, I am getting ready once again to move away from home, family and friends. You see, Boston became my home and the people here, family. In less than 7 weeks, the life of 155 MBA students is about to change and I can ensure you that in this bright future we won’t forget the past.

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March 25, 2010

Elections: More than enough work to go around…

[Posted by Betsy Stiles, MS·MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management, Class of 2011]

It’s election season. After Massachusetts went through its own nationally anticipated and tension filled election, similar processes got underway at the business school (though with less national attention).

The turnaround is pretty quick in a two year graduate program. In order to faciliate the smooth turnover of responsibilities for programs, clubs and student government, the second years start bringing on first years early on. Usually at the start of the school year, clubs recruit 1-3 first year representatives to participate in clubs. Each cohort also has a first year representative on the MBA Council. This helps guarantee that at least someone knows what happens behind the closed doors of club/council meetings. Just kidding. Actually, just about every meeting is open to everyone. Any student can go to a council meeting and find out what is going on, what issues are they discussing this week, how does the process work. Club meetings are pretty flexible as well. Because all of us are busy, it isn’t always possible to make every meeting, and students drop in on the club meetings they care about and contribute whenever they can.

However, in order to make sure that the business of the clubs and the council are completed, it is important to have a committed core in every group. Thus, elections are born. Enough effort for candidates to show that they really care about an issue and enough visibility to create some accountability when they take the position on. (That accountability bit works fairly well in small environments, like the more intimate business program at Boston University – sadly not as well for larger contexts like Massachusetts or the United States.) The first year representatives in clubs are often students that seem to have a good sense of their career direction and know early on that they want to commit to a club related to that career – since the clubs really are resources for career growth. Some of the rest of us are still narrowing down our options.

The trick for clubs is to keep everyone engaged throughout the year, providing opportunities to learn about their industry/functional areas, and building up a community of people with common interests. As the rest of the first years sort of settle on our career paths and better define our interests (hopefully by early to mid second semester, in time to pitch ourselves for internship positions), the clubs then have to think about transitioning responsibilities. Which means, about the time you are getting the hang of being a first year student and figuring out your next academic steps, you start getting thrown into leadership positions.

Thankfully, unlike congressional debates on healthcare, we are a congenial bunch and a bit more collaborative as we make plans to take over the business school next year. While, there is some jockeying for positions, there is more than enough work to go around. And because we all have very diverse interests and skills (thanks to the diligent admissions staff), there is usually a position or responsibility that you will find both interesting and helpful to your own career development. MBA Council holds elections first, this year right before Spring Break. Those positions are a big responsibility, and so the students elected to hold them cannot hold elected positions in other groups (though everyone is definitely encouraged to remain active in clubs).

Then the clubs hold their elections, which has resulted in a flurry of emails all month. “Submit your platforms for the MS∙MBA Association!” “The marketing club is looking for nominations for the VP of Finance position.” “ Don’t forget to vote for VP of Marketing for the PNP Club!” It can seem a bit overwhelming, when you are also in the midst of trying to nail your summer internship down. However, slowly those internships are coming in. And, the second years already have one foot out the door (if not more), so they realize they have to get all the information passed along to the next group of leaders. It is a real test of knowledge management. So, amidst career research, internship interviews, homework and team projects, the first years are also meeting as new club leaders to start to plan what the next year will look like. Nothing to it.

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