Undercover Ross: Partners On The MBA Trail

Adam and Hannah at Wolverine Wine Club’s Winter Gala

Deciding whether to pursue a full-time MBA is a major life decision.

At the very least, you’re taking a two-year break in your career. That’s two years (mostly) without a salary, while likely taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

You might also be moving. That task is stressful enough, but it’s compounded by weighing which school is the best culture fit and which town will make your experience the most memorable. 

When you’re in a relationship, navigating these challenges can feel even more daunting.

My wife Hannah and I were engaged when I was deciding which school to attend. We were incredibly lucky. She had a job that allowed her to work remotely, meaning she could move with me wherever I chose to go to school.

With that in mind, we were focused on finding a place where partners were an integral part of the business school culture. We found this at Michigan Ross. 

Adam and Hannah celebrating Michigan’s win against Ohio State

PART OF THE COMMUNITY

Students undergo a huge transition at the beginning school. We spend most of our time with our new cohort from the minute we step on campus. Partners aren’t with us for that experience, but Ross is built upon a welcoming culture that brings partners into the fold from the very beginning.

A lot of socializing early on happens with your section. Partners aren’t just invited to these events, but students are encouraged to bring them along. This brings partners into the section and larger Ross community from day one.

My section organized a happy hour at the end of the first week of school before we all made our trip over to Scorekeeper (Skeeps), a Ross favorite every Thursday. The event organizers made it clear that this wasn’t just for our section members, it was also for our partners to get to know each other. This cemented a culture of bringing our partners to everything, providing space early on for partners to get to know everyone – including other partners – in the section as they also transitioned to life in Ann Arbor.

Since that event, it became more noticeable when partners didn’t show up for events than when they decided to come. Hannah and many of the partners in my section seized these opportunities to become part of the fabric of the school. Putting in the effort to build these relationships early on pays off for partners because it gives them a network when students are inevitably busy with recruiting and school work. 

Now, when I go somewhere without my wife, people usually greet me with “where’s Hannah?!” instead of “Hello.”

“Nice to see you too,” I’ve been known to quip, although I’d also probably be more excited to see my wife than myself.

But that interaction always makes me smile because it demonstrates that Hannah and the other partners are such a critical part of our Ross community. 

Partners also go on MBA trips, such as M-Trek (which happens between orientation and the first day of classes), Colombia Trek, ski trips, and the dozens of other formal and informal trips that happen over the course of the year. Hannah and I love to ski, and we went on the ski club’s trips to Aspen and Whistler.

Some of the women in my section organized a trip to Chicago during the first semester of school. I remember getting a text from one of them asking for Hannah’s number to invite her along, and how happy I was that she was included. 

Hannah and some of the other partners were so touched to be invited. They spent the weekend at big dinners, exploring Chicago nightlife and shopping, helping cement some of the closest friendships that Hannah has today with students and partners. 

Adam and Hannah walking their dog, Dory, at Nichols Arboretum

LIFE AT ROSS

Hannah is one of the co-presidents of the Partners Club at Ross (PCAR). The club tries to make the transition to a new city easier for partners through a wide variety of social events.

Ross has five sections that students are broken into, and the partners are often referred to as “Section 6” (I think this nickname demonstrates how embedded partners are in Ross’ culture). This year, PCAR ordered Section 6 hats and sold out in a few days. Partners proudly wear these hats around Ann Arbor to show that they’re part of the Ross community.

PCAR throws great events for students and partners throughout the year, giving partners a space to meet each other and other couples. There were outdoor happy hours when the weather was nice, an apple-picking trip at a nearby orchard, a Bachelor watch party, and, most recently, a Soul Cycle class. For MBA students who are parents, Partners and Littles (PALS) hosts great events for little ones, including trick-or-treating at the business school and holiday parties. 

PCAR and PALS threw a uniquely Ross event this year. They sponsored a tailgate at the Ross Bus, which is where MBAs tailgate before football games, for students, partners, and kids. The tailgate opened early for a kids dance party, a chance to explore the bus and some kid-friendly snacks. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition for future partners and families.

And when you and your partner just want to spend some time together, Ann Arbor offers plenty of restaurants and cocktail bars for a date night. If you have a car, it’s just a short drive to explore all that Detroit has to offer. If you want to spend a night or two away from Ann Arbor, northern Michigan offers a beautiful escape.

Long-distance relationships, of course, require a bit more effort. Even though those partners aren’t around as much, they are also part of the Ross community. They often get a hero’s welcome when they are spotted at the Bus (the Ross tailgate) or out at a social event when they make a return to Ann Arbor.

At Ross, partners aren’t just sitting idly watching the MBA ride, they’re welcomed with open arms to experience the ride. In fact, you could make the case that they’re often having more fun than the students are.  

About Adam: I was born and raised just outside of Detroit and I’m thrilled to be back in Michigan. Prior to Ross, I was working as a political reporter at CBS News. I wanted to take my passion for understanding consumer behavior and apply it to a future career in marketing. I chose to come to Ross because it offers so many hands-on experiences and I’m surrounded by genuine, caring and intellectually curious classmates.

You can connect with Adam on LinkedIn and learn more about him in Poets & Quants’ Meet The Class 2024.

DON’T MISS: UNDERCOVER ROSS: AN ANN ARBOR LOVE STORY

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