Today I, like many others, stood in line to pick up my cap and gown for graduation on Saturday. While waiting for my turn, I thought about all of the things I’ve learned over the past two years and how much I had grown both as a professional and as a person. While two years seem like such a short time, there is a major difference between how I felt two years ago on the first day of orientation and how I feel now, almost ready to graduate. As a result of this, I decided to write my final Student Life blog post on the advice that some of the members of my class have for the incoming MBA class.
The advice of my peers is as follows:
“My advice: 1. Broaden your horizons, while filling skill gaps from the perspective of the person recruiting you for the position/role you want. 2. Business Career Services will not get you your desired internship or full-time job. That's up to you. 3. Take advantage of the flexible curriculum in your second year. 4. Have fun!” —Adam Ratner
"I fear mediocrity. Never sell yourself short. Never let the others tell you what cannot be done, for they just haven't found a way to do it yet. Do not let an opportunity pass you by. Do not shy away from being a club officer, taking an academic overload or joining IBC. Do a non-school related project, something entrepreneurial, something for the community, pick up a part time job, mentor someone, play a sport you love competitively, work out every day, travel to someplace exotic, go to every mug club, run a marathon, do the polar plunge, do all that you ever wanted to do - BUT at the same time, don't cut yourself short because you don't have time, there's always time and this is your time to DO IT ALL.” —Hari Rao
“Two years may seem long when you begin your MBA journey, but it'll fly by quickly! The memories and friendships you build with your peers, however, will last a lifetime. So enjoy your time here as much as you can.” —Jamie Ang
“Prioritize your time but enjoy it. Make a list to start your first year with what you hope to accomplish in your two years. It is easy to stray from your goals when the school year begins because a lot of different things will pull at your time. When you feel overwhelmed or feel you are not getting the results you want in an area, refer back to the list of priorities you set for yourself. As time passes in the program, your priorities may shift and that is fine. The list is a "work in progress." Participate in those things you are passionate about, but will add value in terms of helping you achieve your goals. Your career search will most likely be very busy and stressful. I cannot emphasize enough the power of your network. The two years will fly by so be successful and have fun. Good luck!” —Jill Krivacek.
"Networking is really all about reciprocating favors. Be the first to give. Think more about what you can give to the other person. It takes the stress off the networking. It also helps when you invest in networking way in advance of the time you may need help. Addtionally, start you internship search before you start the program - that will take you way ahead of the curve. Finally, class work is not everything so don't let it get in the way of other very important things. The Illinois MBA has so much to offer; to get the best, put in the best and taste a little of every opportunity." —Olaide Lawal
“Work hard at becoming the professional you imagine yourself being 10 years from now. Invest in yourself by becoming comfortable with unknowns, ambiguity, and change. Learn how to build social capital and manage business relationships with your peers. Practice asking open-ended questions to expand your curiosity and get to know people on a deeper level. Never compromise your integrity; it's never worth the supposed benefit you may see at the moment. Take lots of pictures because the moments will fly by quicker than you realize.” —Tim Kingery
“Pick a few things that you want to get involved in, and really get involved in those activities......it is better to be a club president or key member in one or two clubs/organizations than it is to simply be a member of 10 clubs. Make sure you prioritize the clubs you feel passionate about or ones that will help you in your future career path.” —Colleen Symansky
Finally, I’ll leave you with my advice for the incoming class: While grades are important, they are not everything. The University of Illinois is such a huge school with so many different opportunities available—take advantage of as many as you can. This is your second chance at exploring your interests, learning something new and having fun. If you’ve always wanted to try figure skating, or sky diving, or star in a play or play chess until your heart’s content, there are clubs for all of those things. Quad Day occurs at the beginning of the year, usually on the Friday before school starts. Go to it and see what clubs are out there and what you are interested in. For most of us, this is the last time we will be in a college environment with so many new and exciting ventures at our fingertips. Live your dreams and love the two years you’re here!
Thank you for reading my blogs—have a wonderful and successful future!