Monday, January 25, 2010

Q1 Complaints

After my last post, several readers asked why I did not liked business school during the first quarter. I will try to sum it up, but because time seems to be a great eraser of discomfort, my memories of exactly why I was so unhappy are getting fuzzier by the day. Let's try a list:

1. Social awkwardness - constantly meeting people and having the same mundane conversations is not only tiring, it is downright depressing. With time comes familiarity and the awkwardness noticeably dissipates.

2. Posturing - it is very hard to get to know anyone and very hard to let your own guard down when you are worried about preserving your personal "brand" as the aloof heir or the high-fashion financier or the plugged-in media guy. Again, time seems to break down personas into real people.

3. Support - there isn't any official support and it can be very isolating and lonely. By second quarter, genuine friends are there for you; plus, Stanford offers stellar back-up in the form of WIM groups, 2nd year coaches, and student activities.

4. Bubbly - first quarter at the GSB covers you in a hard plastic bubble that doesn't let in news from the outside world (say good-bye to all your favorite blogs), friends from the past (even ones who live in the Bay Area), or connections to long-term goals (the one downside of the exclusive academic period).

5. Misaligned expectations - classes and schoolwork are both valuable and time consuming. Don't expect anything else.

6. Herding - MBA1s are pack animals. There is tremendous tension for independent-minded adults to constantly follow the flock or risk feeling left out.

7. Email overload - it's truly overwhelming. It doesn't let up, but you get a bit better at managing it.

8. Weather - Kidding.

I'm sorry for the heaps of negativity in this post. I really am much happier this quarter. In recent news, I applied to a couple summer jobs through on-campus recruiting and have signed up to help manage two activities I think are interesting. I still struggle with the Sunday night blues, but it's not so bad.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

But you don't regret choosing Stanford over HBS right? ...or do you? Did you go to Columbia with the other MBA1's?

Original said...

LOL @ #8...Thanks for sharing your experience. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

As a reader of your blog I find your honesty refreshing. I really appreciate the fact that you're not trying to hype your experience at the GSB. Yes, there are arguably many fantastic things that you will experience as a Stanford MBA but that doesn't mean everything is great all the time. Keep up the good work!

Elizabeth Dark said...

I really empathize with your post here...I think my husband thought that first term was going to be a non-stop party and tons of fun....and it was really kind of a let-down for the most part. Being a student again, meeting all these "personas" (where are the PEOPLE?!), introducing yourself over and over and over again, and feeling separated from the real world (and his real job) were all tough for him - and for me! I'm glad you're feeling better this semester; as soon as this whole recruiting business is over, I anticipate we'll feel better, as well.

Thanks for the honest post!

www.betterorbusinessschool.blogspot.com

Palo Alto for a While said...

No regrets on the Stanford v HBS decision. The only time when I've really wondered whether I would have been happier at HBS was when I've wanted to be more anonymous.

DreamChaser said...

thank you so much for your honest post! I really appreciate the different side of the story as most bloggers focus on the positive side of b-school, but I am sure the negative exists. This really helps me to have a realistic expectation going into b-school. Kudos to you! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm also a fellow MBA1 and I fully agree with many of the things on your list here, especially the lack of official support. I think the GSB prides itself way out of proportion on its academic focus. There's a degree to which they're missing the full picture...

Which is not to say I'd necessarily be happier elsewhere. But I can come up with a laundry list of my own on ways things can be done better 'round here...

Anonymous said...

While on one hand I greatly appreciate your list of what to expect, on the other hand I think you allowed yourself to be a "victim" in Q1 rather than taking ownership and finding solutions.

I'm starting at HBS in a week, and have a plan in place to counter all the issues mentioned above. Yes, there will be many, many sheeple & personas; my plan is to avoid them (if they are incredibly annoying) or challenge their thinking (if I am feeling generous). I will focus my time on the few, sacred authentic people I meet. I will find ways to make introductions interesting. And I have a list of activities that I will be doing with my real-world friends to get out of the bubble. If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Palo Alto for a While said...

Dear anonymous commenter -

Please be sure to let us all know how your plan is shaping up. I am waiting with bated breath.

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