Woulda, coulda, shoulda
… but they didn’t.
Didn’t know. Didn’t try. Didn’t focus.
Call them missed opportunities: the passions they didn’t pursue or the time they threw away. As graduation approaches, the Class of 2023 is naturally looking back on what could’ve been: the friendships they didn’t nurture, the memories they didn’t create, and the goals they didn’t achieve.
IT ALL WORKS OUT
On the surface, you won’t find this year’s Best & Brightest Business Majors dwelling much on the past. Over their four years, they learned, led, and loved. In the process, they grew into elite professionals poised to make an impact in the world’s top companies. Looking back, many wish they could’ve done more. Take Carmen Gomez, who’ll shortly earn her Business Administration degree from the University of San Diego’s Knauss School. The co-president of the school’s Women in Business Club and academic chair for the Alpha Pi Sigma Sorority, Gomez kept plenty busy as a campus leader and dean’s list mainstay. Reflecting on her college experience, she regrets not exploring a minor sooner.
“As a fourth year, you’re more limited with what classes you can take because you’re trying to meet your final degree requirements and match them with the available classes,” Gomez tells P&Q. “I initially thought I would focus on one specific aspect of marketing. However, I found myself more interested in other areas. I wish I could have continued my exploration.”
Delaney Walsh also believes that she could’ve invested her time better. A Business Administration major at the University of Michigan’s Ross School, Walsh spent too much time worrying about her choices. In hindsight, Procter & Gamble brand manager realizes that everything works out how it is meant to be.
“I spent a lot of time stressing about whether I was taking the right classes, joining the right clubs, meeting the right people, and living in the right part of campus,” Walsh explains. “I gave myself strict deadlines for when I thought I should have the perfect job and the ideal social life. But things really started falling into place for me the moment that I let go of these expectations. I think I would have saved myself a lot of energy if I had understood that I would find success and satisfaction in my experiences when the time was right.”
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
After graduation, Alex Firestine will head to Ireland to pursue a Master of Science degree in Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security. Before that, the University of Pittsburgh senior had completed internships with BDO Global, Deloitte, and KPMG – not counting running two clubs and starting a venture. Despite this, Firestine believes he held himself back by often measuring himself against what his classmates had achieved.
“Early on, I believe I fell victim to comparison, always striving to get the best, most prestigious internship in order to keep up with my peers,” he recalls. “I quickly learned that everyone has their own path, and comparison is the thief of joy. Business school is the perfect opportunity to find your own unique path and pursue it.”
What are other pitfalls that swallowed up time, energy, and focus from top business graduates? As part of the Best & Brightest selection process, P&Q asked students to share their biggest regret over the past four years. From self-doubt to fear of missing out, here are 10 mistakes that the Class of 2023 hopes future business majors avoid.
1) Focused On Grades: “I often viewed school solely as a commitment – my job in Ithaca, New York was to fulfill that commitment to the very best of my ability. This attitude often meant that I prioritized my grades and extracurriculars over other very important aspects of life, such as time with friends and overall health. I now see business school as a commitment to more than just the classroom. If I had a chance to do things differently, I would be more intentional about making the most of business school as the life-changing experience that it can be rather than solely as a commitment or job.”
Andrew Darby, Cornell University (Dyson)
2) Doubted Myself: “As a first-generation student, I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, and I often dealt with imposter syndrome. One thing I would do differently in business school is go back and tell myself that I belong here. I would have had so much more confidence in myself earlier on, but nevertheless I am grateful for the experiences I have had that have made me the woman I am today.”
Alexia Esquivel, University of Arizona (Eller)
“Overall, I’m really grateful for the experiences and relationships I’ve been able to make in my time at business school. However, if I could do one thing differently, I would have more confidence in myself earlier in my academic career. I came into Ross as the only student from my high school and not knowing anything about how vast business is, so I felt really self-conscious about my lack of knowledge. I realized later on that not only did my voice deserve to be heard, but that it was okay to lack knowledge. It was actually a huge contradiction. That’s because while I felt that I needed to have all this knowledge to “catch up” to my peers, the whole purpose of me being in business school was to learn and explore my interests. So, I would have preferred to have realized that sooner because it would have saved me a lot of stress and doubt about myself!”
Karyn King, University of Michigan (Ross)
3) Avoided Technical Topics: “One thing I would do differently in business school if I had the chance to start over would be to take more technical courses and receive certifications earlier on. There are many programs such as Python, Alteryx, and R that I wish I had spent more time on earlier in my college career. I believe the more technical skills or certifications a student can receive, the better positioned they will be for an internship or career, and to begin to build their professional brand as well.”
Emily Winn, University of Denver (Daniels)
4) Pursued Perfection: “My time in business school has fostered immense personal, professional, and academic growth. Although I would not make any dramatic changes to my experience, I would tell my freshman self not to shy away from failure or be afraid of making mistakes. As a perfectionist, I often poured hours into schoolwork and paid meticulous attention to every detail to prevent failing or making a mistake. From all the lectures I have attended and books I have read, I have learned the most from the mistakes I have made. As such, I would advise myself to reframe failure and mistakes as incredible learning opportunities rather than something to fear.”
Ben Boxell, University of Denver (Daniels)
Next Page: Always saying yes and not getting involved soon enough.
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.