Awesome MBA Traditions At Top Business Schools

Stanford GSB MBA students gathered together

“By far, my favorite GSB tradition is TALK, a weekly series in which two classmates share extended versions of their personal stories and answer a few questions about their lives. These TALKs allow you to understand your classmates deeply – their challenges and triumphs – shaping who they have become and where they plan to go. In that sense, this tradition embodies the GSB’s emphasis on disclosure, vulnerability, and authenticity.”
Austin Ward, Stanford GSB

“One of my favorite traditions at the Wisconsin School of Business is Thursday After Professional Studies, or what is more commonly referred to as TAPS. Every Thursday, the MBA students make an effort to meet up in a more social setting to help unwind from the week. It encourages students to interact in a less formal environment and to get to know each other outside of our studies. The program has adapted TAPS to the virtual world and created unique events to keep students engaged remotely including a virtual escape room, ugly sweater party, trivia night and charades game night. This tradition really showcases UW’s commitment to building a community amongst the MBA students.”
Natalie Marinello, University of Wisconsin

“It was Voices, which is a nonprofessional club at SOM. Voices is a weekly event comprising two speakers from the student body who share whatever is most important to them, such as their journey to SOM, a difficult life event, or dealing with prejudice. I got a chance to share my Voices earlier this year. Leading up to it, I remember the fear and worry I felt putting my vulnerabilities out for my class to see. However, the experience was like no other: it felt like a cleansing of the past and at the same time a reminder of the progress I’ve made. The amount of support and follow up I received from those around me was overwhelming! Partners, faculty, and staff also partake in Voices periodically, which truly shows the strength of the singular SOM community.”
Adhi Murali, Yale SOM

“The career services team at Scheller has a tradition of Ringing the Bell. After you have accepted an internship/job offer, you ring a bell that is housed in the career services’ office. It is one of those events where the entire career services team, your classmates, members of the faculty, and the program office come together to celebrate your success. As a result of COVID-19, I could not ring the bell in person when I secured in person. However, when we got back from the summer break, the career services team made arrangements to ensure that we could ring the bell virtually. Since I had missed the opportunity to ring the bell when I had secured my internship, the opportunity to ring the bell for my full-time role felt extra special. As the event was conducted online, my friends, and family from around the world could attend the event and celebrate along with me.”
Sachin Suresh Pai, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

“I’ll go with the quintessential Tuck activity—Tripod Hockey. It’s such a great feeling seeing a bunch of collaborative, yet competitive, people attempt to take each other on at a sport they have minimal background in. It leads to a lot of falling, a lot of laughs, and a lot of moments when you celebrate a goal as if you have won the Stanley Cup. There are a ton of phenomenal Tuck traditions, but for the rest you’ll need to come here to see for yourself.”
Teo Gonzalez, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

“At Haas, we have a tradition called Story Salon where several nights each month a couple of students stand up in front of their classmates and tell a personal story. Students are selected through a lottery to speak during Story Salon and are paired with a trained student coach who helps them shape their speech into a compelling story for the audience. Story Salon is one of few events where I do my best to attend each one. The stories shared in Story Salon are often deeply moving and range from extremely vulnerable to light-hearted and funny. I have learned a great deal about my classmates from this tradition and it has helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the tenacity and strength of my peers. I also had the opportunity to share my own story and was moved by the support I felt from my classmates during and after the event.”
Corrine Marquardt, UC Berkeley (Haas)

The Mountain Experience. At the beginning of the year, the school mobilizes all of the students to the snowy Swiss Alps. With the well-designed activities, we reset our mindset and open ourselves to the class. It is the beginning of the bonding process, and it is a wonderful moment to think of afterwards.

The MBA Participants at IMD are generally older than those of other top MBA programs. Each of my colleagues has had unique and successful professional and personal experiences. The Mountain Experience is to remind us to put aside our egos and our past achievements and be open to the present and all the different perspectives.”
Haichen Liu, IMD Business School

“My favorite MBA event at Johnson is our annual Lunar New Year Celebration. We celebrated the Year of the Ox virtually this year given the pandemic, but it was still fun. Faculty—including Dean Mark Nelson and Associate Dean Drew Pascarella—even filmed dance videos for the celebration. Everyone in the community came together to wear red (a must-have color for Lunar New Year and Cornellians). The event featured Asian ensemble dancing, traditional Asian music, cooking demos, and calligraphy. I was so proud that the Johnson community was dedicated to promoting and celebrating cultural diversity. And I couldn’t be happier when my American classmates asked me how to ensure good luck during their Zodiac year—I told them, just wear red all year long!”
Heidi Xu, Cornell University (Johnson)

“I loved the simple First Coffee sessions in the morning. It is a 35-minute break between classes, but one that attracts students, staff, and faculty to a common area. First Coffee is ideal to meet or catch-up with people. I enjoyed discussing weekend plans, thought-provoking cases, and even challenging recruitment activities. It is a key pillar of the Darden community and helps build relationships across cohorts.”
Prateek Sinha, University of Virginia (Darden)

Foster Idol is my favorite tradition. It’s a community event hosted by Foster Creative and Challenge 4 Charity (C4C) where students share their creative talents, like musical performance, dancing, and comedy. Audience members then “tip” the performers via donations to C4C. Seeing everyone cheer the performers on, whether the performers are new to their art or actual professionals, illustrates the supportive and joyful community we have at Foster. I hope to dust off my trumpet and participate as a performer in the next Foster Idol and I know that my classmates will cheer me on if I do.”
Claire Herting, University of Washington (Foster)

“The most iconic tradition at Texas A&M, and my favorite, is that of the Aggie Ring. The Aggie Ring has a history dating back to 1889 and represents a connection to the over 500,000 living alumni all around the world. As the class of 2021, we were presented our Aggie Rings at the beginning of our final semester. When first receiving the ring, it is tradition to wear the graduating class year facing in, signifying that our time at Texas A&M is not yet complete. At our commencement ceremony, as a class we flipped our rings to have the graduating class year face outwards, signifying that we were also ready to face the world with our newfound skills and knowledge.”
Nicole Streifert, Texas A&M (Mays)

“The C4C Charity Auction! The event, which is celebrating its 16th year, brings together Full-Time, Part-Time, and Executive MBA students along with the school’s alumni and faculty, to support local causes. Since the event’s inception in 2005, it has benefitted 17 charitable organizations, raising more than $390,000. The event is beautifully run, winning multiple student awards, including Club of the Year and the People’s Choice Fun Event awards of 2020. It’s the highlight of our year!
Jeffrey Merkel, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

“Our Karaoke Competition is hands-down my favorite MBA tradition at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Each legacy (or cohort) spends months rehearsing two songs to perform at the competition in December. Students from each legacy volunteer to sing and perform a fully choreographed dance for each song. It is such a blast to watch our classmates get up on stage and let loose a little after working so hard during the fall semester. As it turned out, many of our classmates are very talented singers and dancers! As Legacy Cup Captain, I choreographed the dances for our cohort, and our rendition of Lady Marmalade actually won last year! The event was postponed this year due to the pandemic, but I have no doubt that it will be back in full force when it’s safe to do so.”
Claire Boston, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

“A unique tradition of the Notre Dame MBA program is MBA Mass and Brunch. At least once a semester, members of the MBA student body attend Sunday Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart together. If Notre Dame Stadium is the “heart” of campus, the Basilica is its “soul.” The Basilica is a gorgeous neo-gothic church with antique stained-glass windows, murals of religious scenes and saints on the walls, and a painted night sky with gold-leaf stars on the ceiling. Student choirs offer angelic music at each Mass. Attending Mass with classmates forms a special spiritual bond. Afterward, the MBA Association pays for brunch at North Dining Hall, which looks like the Great Hall in Harry Potter. This tradition reflects the deep Catholic roots of Notre Dame and the MBA program. Faith, Religion, and Spirituality are all fair game for discussion here`!”
Eric Sweeney, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

“The Smith community’s greatest strength lies in our earnest embrace of and excitement about international culture. Every fall, we celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Despite not having heard of Diwali prior to my first semester, the celebration has become my favorite event. Diwali Night represents a true celebration of the rich diversity represented in the Smith community.

My first Diwali, Indian students choreographed several dances for international and domestic students alike. I was grateful for the way domestic students were invited to join the celebration and to learn about the festival’s significance. I danced alongside three other students who had never previously celebrated Diwali, all of us dressed in traditional Indian clothing. The evening represented a blend of cultures and traditions among the Smith community. Even though our celebrations transitioned to a virtual environment this year, the Smith community remained just as excited to celebrate Diwali. Our International MBA Association created an impactful evening for the entire student body — complete with dancing, a drum performance, and a candle-lighting ceremony. More than ever, our festival of lights provided a much-needed celebration for the Smith community.”
Virginia Pierrie, University of Maryland (Smith)

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