20 Biggest Regrets Of MBA Students

Shoshana Seidenfeld, UCLA (Anderson)

7) Get Out of the B-School Bubble: “I wish I took more time for myself during the first semester. I was swept up into the tides of ‘FOMO’ and felt an inexplicable urge to be everywhere at all times. This took a toll on my energy level over time; in the process, I lost a bit of my own personality and sense of self. I was able to regroup after winter break and came back much more focused on my priorities, from staying in touch with my family to carving out time for yoga. Learning to say no has helped me find balance in an exciting yet occasionally chaotic two-year period.”
Teddy Shih, Wharton School

8) Let Go of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): “So, you know the phrase “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach?” I experienced this phenomenon immensely when I attended my first club fair at Anderson. I was SO excited by all of the diverse clubs and opportunities that I signed up for literally everything, even clubs that didn’t align directly with my career path or interests. I think it was a real case of FOMO playing itself out on the business school level. Due to those decisions, there are many clubs I’m signed up for that I never really had a chance to interact with or provide value back to. In hindsight, I think I would have approached my club memberships a little more intentionally and invested in a smaller number of clubs in a more tangible and sustainable way (and also save some money on dues!).”
Shoshana Seidenfeld, UCLA (Anderson)

Stacy Tubonemi, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

9) Stop Pressuring Yourself: “Looking back, one thing I probably would do differently is not be as stressed out as I was during my first year. I think coming in, especially during my first year, I put a lot of my pressure on myself in regards to getting the perfect grades and the perfect job — so much so that I didn’t really enjoy the experience of being in business school. I think it’s something most of us initially face, because business school is somewhat of a competitive environment, and we all want to come out on top and be the best. If I could do it all over, I would take more time to enjoy the ride of being in business school and remind myself that even the difficult stages of business school are all temporary and that everything always works out for the best. No matter what, I will eventually be fine.”
Stacy C. Tubonemi, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

10) Socialize More: “If I could have done one thing different during my MBA experience, I would have spent more time socializing with my cohort during my first semester. Collectively, we were under the impression that we had to put our heads down during the first semester because of the difficulty of our introductory courses. Also, former students said that during the second year, we would have plenty of time to socialize with our cohort because of the more relaxed nature of elective courses. COVID-19, of course, reversed this trend for our class with social distancing. It would have been great to get to know more members of my cohort outside of the academic setting.”
Andrew J. Marshall, Penn State (Smeal)

“I wouldn’t have taken my core (first) semester so seriously, especially knowing that a pandemic was to come that would completely alter our social lives as we knew it. The pressure to do well academically, make friends, find a job, and stay healthy can be a lot to adjust to in the first semester. Ultimately, it is the relationships and memories that matter most. If I could time travel back to fall 2019, I would tell myself that it is okay to sacrifice on some MBA goals in the name of finding balance.”
Anupama Tadanki, Emory University (Goizueta)

“My answer here is a bit biased due to the fact that the latter two thirds of my MBA experience were virtual. Still, I would have attended more social events during my first year. I was initially so overwhelmed by the combination of academics and internship recruiting that I put off attending social events and told myself, “I’ll go to more events once classes settle down and I have an internship.” And then by March, in-person events were no longer a possibility. A huge part of the MBA experience centers around connecting with your classmates — and I have some truly amazing classmates with a huge variety of life experiences. Since shifting to a virtual MBA experience, I’ve had to become a bit more deliberate when it comes to connecting with my classmates. Now, I spend time reaching out via Slack to catch up and making sure I team up with different members of my cohort in every class.”
Claire Herting, University of Washington (Foster)

11) Taken More Risks: “I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and taken more Finance classes. Before Booth, I had never taken a single Finance class. Even though I knew it was a myth that Booth was a “Finance school”, I was still intimidated. I definitely played it safe with classes for my first few quarters because of this. However, after taking Investments, I realized that I did enjoy the subject matter and now regret not taking some of the Finance classes that Booth is most well known for.”
Tess Belton, University of Chicago (Booth)

Malvi Hemani, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

12) Say “No” More Often and Sooner: “I have no regrets doing all the things I did – socially, academically, professionally – but I do wish that I could have had more balance and some more time for myself to really enjoy everything I was doing. Looking back, I wanted to say “yes” to every social gathering, every request to help out the community, every club that had an open leadership position, every panel to speak on, or every group project task that wasn’t assigned.

Although each activity or task was not exhausting in silo, compiling them all together was not helping anyone. It would have been more prudent to evaluate everything on my plate in a given time period and be more intentional about saying no or scheduling it for a later date if I was already fully occupied. Trying to do everything and do it all well was not possible — we’re only human after all.”
Malvi Hemani, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

13) Reach Out To More Alumni: “I would have networked with alumni much earlier and more consistently during my MBA. The few alumni I reached out to were universally willing to speak with me and were very generous with their time. I regret not having spoken with more people to learn more about their individual professional paths. I feel I could have gained more nuanced, first-hand insight into different sectors, firms, and roles.”
Michael Venditto, HEC Paris

14) Test Out More Career Paths: “I would embrace more curiosity about potential career paths and resist the temptation to jump at the first thing that sounds interesting. I remember the summer before I started at Darden, I was so worried about knowing what I wanted to do and hitting the ground running with recruiting when I arrived first-year. This anxiety resulted in me picking the first career option that seemed to fit and forcing myself onto a path that ultimately wasn’t right for me. Thankfully, Darden is incredibly intentional about opening people’s eyes to multiple possible career pathways right from the beginning. With that guidance, I was able to realize my mistake and pivot quickly. However, I like to think if I’d been more open-minded and reflective about opportunities over the summer, I might have realized I was heading down a wrong path earlier.”
Katie Cech, University of Virginia (Darden)

David Bolivar, UC Berkeley (Haas)

15) Network More with Faculty: “I believe professors are a very underutilized resource for students at IESE. In the first and second terms, I didn’t really engage with professors outside of the classroom. I had so many other things to do and when I networked, I only thought about networking with fellow classmates, alumni, or other people on LinkedIn. To my own surprise, there was another great resource for MBA students right in front of them all along: the professors. They have incredible and insightful knowledge of the topics they teach and often boast a great network of companies and alumni. I learned a lot from the conversations I had with them after class or when going for a coffee or lunch. More than once, they helped me reach a certain goal or introduce me to someone helpful, with relevant experience or understanding.”
Christian Bopp, IESE Business School

16) Spend Time Around People Different Than You: “As I wrap up my MBA experience and reflect on the relationships I have forged, I’ve noticed that my circle of friends includes mainly Latin Americans. As Cameron Anderson teaches us in his Power & Politics class, we tend to create more ties with people with whom we have similarities, which applies to my case. It was easier for me to forge friendships with those who spoke Spanish and shared similar cultural tendencies. I ended up staying mostly in that circle. My advice is to step out of your comfort zone and open up to classmates from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. I have started being more intentional with this in my last semester with the Bay Area reopening. Still, it is definitely something I would have liked to have done earlier in my MBA experience.”
David Bolívar, UC Berkeley (Haas)

17) Travel Early and Often: “Like many in the class of 2021, a number of my planned international trips, including a class in China, were cancelled due to the pandemic. I didn’t travel as much during my first fall of my MBA because I was focused on getting back into student life with classes and recruiting. Now, I really savor some of those 3-day weekend trips, case competitions, and conferences. I just wish I could have traveled more!”
Kaitlyn Barrett Wilson, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

18) Job Hunting Isn’t Everything: “I think there’s a profound atrium effect at business school (not least at Kellogg, because we have a rather magnificent atrium) to try and get summer internship offers as quickly as possible. This feeling started for me within a few months of the start of the academic year. I would see students in the Hub wearing suits because of an interview they had that day, and I would immediately feel like I was dramatically behind in my own job search. The truth is that business school is an amazing opportunity for career networking and self-exploration – and since it’s two whole years, it’s silly not to use all of that time to explore as much as possible.

If I could redo my MBA, I’d try to relax my career anxieties, and instead focusing on asking hard and important questions of myself: what roles and industries do I want to explore next? How do I get there? Who else should I talk with, to learn more? What does my one, unique path look like? What’s the right fit, for me?”
Josh Nathan, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Andrea Polie, University of Toronto (Rotman)

19) Prepare More for Finance and Accounting Before School Starts: “I did stats and some data analysis during my undergrad and grad school, but Finance was like learning a new language. Rotman has a summer pre-program that’s designed to support students who aren’t from traditionally corporate or quantitative backgrounds (like me). But even with that support, going from square one to proficient in seven weeks was like drinking from a firehose.

Looking back, I’m proud of how hard I worked, and I don’t regret prioritizing rest and self-care before what I knew would be an action-packed year. But did I make my life harder than it had to be? Probably. If I could have gone into first year with more of a foundation— perhaps taking a CFA Level 1 course or hiring a tutor over the spring and summer — I would have gotten more out of the courses. I definitely would have been less stressed.”
Andrea Poile, University of Toronto (Rotman)

20) Don’t Work During School: “If I were to do it again, I would have left my job before I started the first quarter, rather than continuing part-time, (I ended up quitting after the first academic quarter anyway). Being a full-time student brings with it so many opportunities and scholastic responsibilities. The best way to take advantage of those is to be on campus as much as you can. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, what insights you’ll glean (even simply from water cooler conversations with your classmates). You are only in business school once and (provided you are able) you should do your best to allow yourself to take full advantage of these opportunities.”
Daniel Henderson, UC San Diego (Rady)





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