One Class To Another: The Best Advice

Northwestern University's Tim Bossidy

Northwestern University’s Tim Bossidy

DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU

When it comes to diving in, the best and brightest have learned success is a matter of strategically mixing depth and breadth. Tim Bossidy, a Kellogg grad ticketed to Goldman Sachs, encourages the next class to meet every classmate in one way or another. “There will probably be a group you go out with more and travel with more,” he concedes, “but getting into here or any business school is an opportunity to meet an absurd amount of dynamic, smart, driven people with an amazing array of backgrounds. Every additional friend I have made here has made my experience more interesting and more valuable.”

Ask anyone: the universal consensus is students should get involved once they hit campus. However, Texas A&M’s Tyler Lorenz, whose star burned brightest deep in the heart of Mays Business School, cautions that students should focus on efforts that make a tangible difference. “Personally, I spread myself across the Finance club and our Governing Board of Advisors. I would pick only one or two groups and truly drive impact in those areas.”

Do you build a network that’s wide or deep? Do you take on responsibility in many areas – or focus on being great in just a few areas? These are just a few of the paradoxical push-pulls that every first year faces.  Not only are they responsible for their success, but they have to define what success really means to them. And it’s not the same for everyone, adds Jen Fischer, a Haas grad who launched the school’s Berkeley Leadership Lab. “People who you know, respect, and love may have influenced you rightly or wrongly to subscribe to some pre-conceived notion of success” Fischer declares. “They will want what they think is best for you, but no one knows that better than you.”

B-SCHOOL REQUIRES OPENNESS — AND FEARLESSNESS

IE Business School's Michelle Beretti

IE Business School’s Michelle Beretti

If there is one piece of advice that unites the 2016 class, it would be this: Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. In doing so, MBA students can better facilitate self-awareness and growth, says IE Business School’s Michelle Beretti, who was chosen by her dean to address the next incoming class. “Come with an open mind, and be prepared to have many of your preconceived beliefs challenged. I am not saying that everyone will come out on the other side a totally different person, everyone is at different stages of their lives, but you will have a much better understanding of who you are, or better yet, who you are becoming.”

Doing that, of course, requires students to live in the moment. Or, more accurately, it demands that students seize the moment implores Duke University’s Jessica Davlin, who worked at the FBI and the White House before joining Team Fuqua. “I’ve found that embracing these two years and being open to whatever comes your way can really make for a transformational experience. Don’t be afraid to take risks – school is a safe environment to challenge yourself.”

And this “carpe diem” mantra doesn’t just apply to what students do in business school, but where they attend school in the first place. “Don’t just stay in your home country,” counters INSEAD’s Tan Wenyou, who has already authored three business books. “Go out and explore markets out of your comfort zone and build up your ability to adapt to different markets across the world. The beauty of the INSEAD program is that the students and their experiences are so diverse that you can practically learn something new within any classroom.”

BE YOURSELF. BE INTENTIONAL. TRUST THE PROCESS”

NYU's Ronica Reddick

NYU’s Ronica Reddick

Beyond that, this year’s best and brightest voiced a series of nuggets that suggested the deep, rich and sometimes painful nature of learning. NYU’s Ronica Reddick, a stage and television actress before business school, urged future students to “assume the best intentions from others.” Haas’ Sarah Tait, architect of this year’s Week Zero, was equally pragmatic. “Reflect often, make decisions deliberately, and schedule as many coffee chats with students, faculty, staff, and alumni as you can handle.” And the sage advice of Duke’s Libby McFarlane’s would make a perfect bumper sticker: “Be yourself. Be intentional. Trust the process.”

Come August, the Class of 2018 will begin descending upon campuses worldwide. They will be among strangers all wondering if they truly belong (and whether they’ll survive Finance I). In those times, they can look at the example of the 2016 class, who entered as gifted and green and left as polished and perceptive. For that, you can thank the foundation of business school: Community.

“Don’t be intimidated,” assuages Carnegie Mellon’s Samantha Grant. “There’s a whole team of professors, faculty, and students who want to see you succeed.”

DON’T MISS: THE BEST ADVICE GRADUATING MBAS HAVE FOR NEW B-SCHOOL APPLICANTS