20 Lessons You Learn in Business School

University of Virginia’s Zane Homsi

5) Put In the Work: “It’s not enough merely to be a good student. You need to be proactive about your learning and development outside the classroom. By participating in internships, you are putting your skills to the test. Being proactive could also be in the form of networking, attending business seminars, or taking on leadership positions in clubs. You need to build up your skillset and resume yourself. Accordingly, it’s important not only to have a vision but also to take complete ownership of your future in the world of business.”
Jenna Florendo, Fordham University (Gabelli)

“Hard work beats talent every single time. When I reflect on my major and think about the students that did the best in the classroom and professionally, it was almost never the smartest student, but the one who wanted it the most. Business taught me to stay hungry.”
Zane Homsi, University of Virginia (McIntire)

“The main separator between students is the will to succeed and sacrifice for the ultimate goal. It was clear from day one that nothing was given, it was earned through time and patience. Trust the process.”
Jeffrey Shanfeldt, Lehigh University

6) Get Comfortable Navigating Gray Areas: “Any problem or obstacle can be analyzed an infinite amount of ways with different perspectives, frameworks, or performance goals, with each method pointing to a different answer. It’s not enough to know the different ways to look at the information. Great decision making requires being able to avoid paralysis from imperfect or conflicting information.”
Isaiah Cyprien, Boston College (Carroll)

7) Don’t Need to Be Perfect: “Business has taught me to prefer iteration over perfection. Data sets will have gaps and statistics will have contradicting interpretations. Ethical questions will have right vs. right answers and legal requirements won’t define what a “reasonable person” means. At the end of the day, the best laid out strategy will encounter challenges in its implementation. After four years at Kelley, I have learned to accept this ambiguity with a calm confidence. The decisions we make as students, analysts, policy-makers and leaders will be based on imperfect information. And that is okay. As long as we think critically about the information we do have and keep an open mind, we can experiment and iterate. We can make decisions and adapt in a way that emphasizes humility because we know that perfection is not really an option.”
Simona Stancov, Indiana University (Kelley)

University of Michigan’s Jack Griffin

8) Look at Problems From Multiple Perspectives: “My teachers have shown me that business issues are so much more than they originally seemed to me. Business decisions do not occur in a vacuum; they represent the culmination of many different and sometimes competing stakeholder concerns and interests. My teachers consistently push us to think about the far-reaching implications of business decisions by asking us things like “How will this affect our consumers? Supply Chain? What are the financial implications? Did you consider the technological requirements of this?” After four years of hearing these questions, I now find it second nature to ask them myself.”
Lauren Nobile, Miami University (Farmer)

9) Be Accountable: “There’s no substitute for identifying a problem and solving it yourself. Whether you’re an employee, a manager, or an entrepreneur, taking the initiative to solve issues big and small yourself rather than pushing it off to someone else speaks volumes to your colleagues. Abandoning the notion of “That’s someone else’s problem” in favor of “I can take care of it” creates a terrifically positive and self-sufficient culture, especially when you take the time to express gratitude for the people who do go beyond their normal duties.”
Jack Griffin, University of Michigan (Ross)

10) Money Isn’t Everything: “Financial return to shareholders is actually only one of the three bottom lines that business should consider. I’ve been able to dive deep into the world of sustainable businesses practices and the view that shareholder return is all that matters is incredibly dated. The next generation of business leaders should be, and I believe will be, considering the social and environmental implications of their decisions on par with pure financial returns. I believe that this is the next big shift in how we do business and we all have the obligation to take the long view in how we want our industries to function.”
Charlie Doherty, Northeastern University (D’Amore McKim)

11) Talk to People: “This will not only help you improve your soft skills, which are of paramount importance in the business world, but also open up countless opportunities for you. From my own experiences, casual conversations at networking events have led to friendships and job interviews. Do not be afraid of rejection: those who say something goes further than those who say nothing. Furthermore, speaking to people, in my experience, is the best way to learn about the roles that interest you. If you speak to 10 people and hear patterns in what they tell you about a role, it is most likely something you will experience them once you are in that role.”
Raynier Matias, Rutgers University (Newark)

Villanova University’s Jessica Roberts

12) Don’t Get Complacent: “Stay on your toes. The world is always evolving and demands that we stay ready for anything, especially in business. Whether it’s creating or monitoring future predictions, we have to be prepared for whatever comes next. This level of preparation is needed across industries in order to better serve the world we live in.”
Jessica Roberts, Villanova University

13) Set Priorities: “A common challenge many people experience in business school is the quest to do it all. I also felt the same way. There were many interesting clubs I wanted to join, classes I wanted to take, and initiatives I would have loved to launch. But I soon realized that trying to do it all, only ends in being overstretched and dissatisfied with the results.

To avoid being dissatisfied, I learned to prioritize and be confident in what I prioritized. Being confident in my choices, made me less susceptible to FOMO – the fear of missing out. I have felt more satisfied and impactful when I focused and did less, rather than having done more with less focus.

I prefer to use core and non-core focus areas in relation to strengths and weaknesses. Prioritizing ultimately leads to areas that are non-core. I have found it very helpful and enjoyable to spend time with friends who share a mutual interest, even though that interest is not my core area. I enjoy our time and learn vicariously through their own efforts, and naturally, vice versa.”
Adedotun R. Adejare, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

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