Best MBA Traditions At Top Business Schools

“One of my favorite things at Chicago Booth is the frequent talks and seminars we have with our highly-acclaimed faculty and alumni. We recently attended a fireside chat with Professor Eugene Fama (Nobel Prize laureate) and David Booth (namesake of the school). I recall a joke that Professor Fama made about the efficient market theory and the room erupted in laughter. It was my favorite Booth moment by a mile; we shared an understanding that we are casually in the presence of leading academics (and in on the joke with them), which is what makes us proud Boothies.
Joshua Lah, University of Chicago (Booth)


“The Polar Plunge. Every year the MBA program raises money for Special Olympics by jumping in frozen Lake Monona. Everyone dresses up in themed costumes and meets for breakfast beforehand. It’s a fun event for a good cause.”
Kaitlyn Wilchynski, University of Wisconsin


“My favorite event by far is StratSim, the management simulation at the end of the first semester. MBA students are split into teams and each team manages a car manufacturing company during a week-long competitive simulation. The exercise ties together marketing, operations, finance, and teaming into one comprehensive package. It’s a blast! The week reflects the culture of the school. Everyone is playing to win, but it isn’t overly competitive. The teaming element is important. There are so many decisions to make that it is impossible to sort through them all one-by-one as a group. The most effective teams create roles that play to each person’s strengths and build trust with each other before the simulation even begins.”
Pat DeMarle, Boston University (Questrom)


“My favorite MBA event is the Columbia Student Investment Management Association Conference. Being able to hear from some of the best investors out there while asking candid questions really makes the conference stand out from the rest. The investment ideas panel is an exciting opportunity to see how practitioners view companies and identify great bargains.”
Zachary Lopez, Columbia Business School


“A few times every year, the Rotman Student Engagement team partners up with the cultural student clubs within the MBA program to put on what we call Culture Eats. Each Culture Eats is a lunch themed around a specific region’s cuisine and includes music, a short presentation, and stories from home. The lunches they provide to the students are always fun, educational, and offer an important break in the middle of a busy day.

Rotman is a large and extremely diverse program. While students do have the chance to get to know classmates inside the classroom, it is also important to bond outside the classroom as well. Rotman takes this very seriously and gives everyone the chance to share a bit about themselves. Culture Eats is just one example of the many ways Rotman is more than just a school, it is a family.”
Jessica Shannon, University of Toronto (Rotman)


“My favorite event at Darden is Darden Cup. Think of it as Harry Potter Quidditch but within our sections instead of houses and there are different sport and non-sport events alike. I love Darden Cup for three reasons:

1) It gathers all walks of Darden students. The Darden Cup is regularly attended by many students. It is an event that brings our diverse population together where everyone feels welcome and included.

2) People showcase their talents. From basketball and soccer to trivia and the talent show, people can display the brain and brawn we do not see in class. Events like American football and cricket also help bridge cultural gaps.

3) It inspires a competitive spirit in sections. The Darden Cup would not work if people did not take it seriously; that desire to win unites sections (usually) and fosters unlikely relationships over a common bond.”
Vita Wu, University of Virginia (Darden)


“One of my favorite and most memorable traditions at the NUS MBA was the Orientation Team-Building when all MBA candidates go through a number of outdoor activities (such as rock climbing, dragon boating, archery, etc…) together. It was an initiative that strengthened our sense of being one team and we made lasting friendships.

The two-day overnight team-building was followed by an intensive week of highly practical boot camp called Launch Your Transformation, where I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone in dealing with challenging situations (negotiations, discussions, brainstorming, conflict resolution) in multicultural teams. That unparalleled experience gave me an understanding of my personal strengths and weaknesses. It also let me grasp how to deal with people of different nationalities in professional and personal settings.”
Stanislav Borisov, National University of Singapore


“My favorite business school tradition is the annual Blue Cup Tournament that takes place each spring between Kenan-Flagler and our archrival, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. In parallel to the long-standing interschool rivalry that plays out on the NCAA basketball courts each year, business school students are pitted against each other in highly competitive matches of nearly every kind imaginable including football, golf, tennis, and, of course, basketball. It is an incredibly fun series of events that allows us to show our competitive sides while building on the community of MBA students in the Triangle area.”
Owen Waits, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)


“My favorite MBA event is Story Salon. Students come together to listen to a few classmates share personal stories about their lives and what they’ve experienced. My peers support each other when we listen to gut-wrenching stories and cheer each other in the triumphs that immediately follow. I’ve found that these moments are enriching, not only for each individual listening but also to the community as a whole who is now bound by shared experience.”
Geena Haney, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)


“Georgetown McDonough has several traditions and events. However, one that most resonated with me was the Hariri Symposium. It is an annual event that brings together students, faculty, administration, and leaders in business and society. The setting is TED Talk-like, where speakers share ideas and stories on basically any topic. I already love a good TED Talk, but what is fascinating here is that speakers are given an open mic to respond to a call like “Once I was lost” to create a powerful speech. Interestingly, there is an overwhelming perception that MBAs are horrible writers and speakers. Speaking as someone who falls a little more on the poet side than the quant side, there might be some truth to that. However, that belief definitely does not define MBAs as a whole.

Nonetheless, the people I’ve listened to at the Hariri Symposium have impressed me. Whether they delivered grass-to-grace stories or shared ideas for the next big disruption to racially-biased algorithms, I got to know my classmates on a much deeper level. I believe that MBAs are presumed to be Type A, argumentative, impersonal, and ambitious. At McDonough, there is the space and expectation to live beyond yourself. And the Hariri Symposium is a good example of that.”
Nina Vann, Georgetown University (McDonough)


“I am most looking forward to various national weeks that will happen throughout the year. Each National Week is a week-long celebration of cultural traditions of a specific country or region. Entirely organized by students, national weeks offer opportunities to try delicious traditional food, socialize at themed events, and attend panel discussions on topics related to that country.

National weeks are just one snapshot of how diverse the INSEAD student population is. They also show how much the school values diversity. Inside and outside classrooms, we are constantly inspired to learn everyone’s unique backgrounds and appreciate different cultures.”
Jiwon Kang, INSEAD


“My favorite MBA event at MSU was the Football Tailgates. These were set times when students could take a break from stresses of school work, support MSU sports, and get to know peers on a deeper level; all while enjoying good food, music, and an incredible campus-wide atmosphere. All tailgates consisted of MSU alumni and corporate representatives ready to discuss life-changing career opportunities. To me, this reflects one of the tremendous features of an MBA from MSU. The alumni base is so vast and active and MSU attracts the best companies in the world. MSU tailgates provided me with an opportunity to connect deeper with peers, constantly grow my MSU network base, and potentially receive a job from an amazing company, just like MSU promised.”
Jamari Brooks, Michigan State (Broad)


“Besides MBAT, which I organized but didn’t get a chance to enjoy, the Saint Cyr Leadership Seminar was my favorite MBA tradition at HEC Paris. For two days, we visited a French military school at Saint Cyr and were divided into groups of 10 to accomplish increasingly difficult field exercises under the supervision of a military-trained mentor. Together with teammates, we ran a crisis center, walked the tightrope, and even built a bridge! With various leadership skills learned from the two-day training, there’s no doubt that HEC Paris was preparing us to become business leaders of tomorrow’s world.”
Oliver Chen, HEC Paris


“Every Thursday night, the Yale School of Management community gets together over drinks, food, and sometimes music to catch up at what we call Closing Bell. Often these events are “sponsored” by the various student-run clubs that we have. I love Closing Bell as it provides the whole school community – students, partners, administrators, and even faculty – an opportunity to socialize in a pressure-free environment and get to know each other. A particular highlight was this year’s Diwali Celebration that was sponsored by the South Asian Club. I was part of a student group that performed a Bollywood dance number, something that was very much outside of my comfort zone given that I have two left feet, but which put a massive smile on everyone’s face.”
Tony Senanayake, Yale SOM


Go to next page for favorite traditions from Wharton, Northwestern Kellogg, Dartmouth Tuck, and NYU Stern.

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