The time has finally come to reflect – one last time – on my four years at the Ross School of Business.
As I am about to graduate, I wanted to take time to truly reflect on all the knowledge I acquired during my time in business school. Sure, I was taught how to run a linear regression in my business analytics class and about internal branding in marketing capstone class. But I have also learned so much beyond the classroom.
I have a better understanding of the kind of business leader I want to be and the values I want to embody. I have come to realize the importance of mentorship and networking; taking on new challenges and discovering new passions, and even embracing my Asian-American identity.
In this column, I’ll be sharing my five biggest takeaways of business school and offer advice for prospective students based on my experiences at Michigan Ross.
1) It’s Important To Keep An Open Mind
College is truly a time for exploration. For the first time in your life, you have the opportunity to take classes that actually interest you. Here, you can make your curriculum uniquely your own.
I love being enrolled in the BBA program at Michigan Ross because of the flexibility of the curriculum. Business is everywhere and a BBA is such a broad degree that I am grateful to have earned. Additionally, I enjoyed taking non-business classes, such as my Buddhism classes, which led me to pursue my Religion minor. My minor allowed me to have a more philosophical approach to my business classes.
I also really learned to appreciate the breadth of opportunities available to students at a top-tier business school.
Advice: I would recommend students to attend BBA Meet the Clubs and school-wide events.
During my first semester of my first year at Ross, I applied to a few consulting clubs after learning more about them at BBA Meet the Clubs. After going through the interview process for these clubs and attending case workshops, I realized that consulting was not for me. However, I don’t regret applying to these clubs and attending meetings because I got to meet many of my peers through this process.
Flash forward to sophomore year. I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I continued to have an open mind. I never thought that I would be interested in pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Then I attended Lilly Discovery Day, which is a conference for sophomores interested in a career in pharma. When I attended the conference, I was able to meet other college students from all across the country who were also interested in pharma.
I found that I really connected with everyone I met at the conference. I believed in the company’s mission (which is similar to the one at Michigan Ross: using business to create a positive difference in the world) and saw how it was exemplified in their employees through the interactions and conversations I had. It has come full circle as I will be working at Eli Lilly after graduation!
2) It’s Okay To Ask For Help
I know most of us believe that we are so capable of accomplishing tasks on our own. After all, we are the “leaders and the best” who attend a top-ranked business school. But we didn’t get here all by ourselves.
I’ve learned that you can’t do everything alone. In fact, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it’s a sign of strength because you recognize that you’re struggling and need assistance.
Advice: I would recommend students utilize the resources at your school. Chances are, they have a lot.
In terms of academics, I went to a lot of office hours. Many classes offer office hours for both the professors and teaching assistants. I liked the option of having both types of office hours to attend. Sometimes having a peer explain a concept to me was more helpful than directly asking the professor for help.
Also, going to office hours was a bonding experience in itself. Students who are struggling on a topic can actually help each other out. You also are able to meet students from different sections and you can end up making new friends.
One time, I went to office hours, where a student from another section was explaining a concept from TO 313: Operations Management to a group of students – including myself. Before he left, he offered to give everyone his phone number in case we had more questions to ask him. I found it refreshing that he was willing to go out of his way and help us even outside of office hours. This experience dispelled the myth of business school being competitive and cutthroat.
Career-wise, I would recommend utilizing the Career Development Office (CDO). CDO Peer Coaches were extremely helpful for mock interviews because they had prior experience interviewing for companies where I wanted to work. During my sophomore year, I would repeatedly make appointments with one upperclassman in particular because I felt comfortable with her and trusted her judgement. Eventually, we became friends because of how often we met.