I vividly remember my first day as an MBA student hearing the Dean say we only have 621 days together as a class. At the time, it seemed like an eternity, but as I got closer to graduation, I realized how quickly my time at Illinois flew by. Incoming students often ask me what they can do to prepare for the Illinois MBA, so here are some tips you can do now to maximize your experience at Illinois:
1. Start now
Don’t wait until orientation to start building your network. Introduce yourself to your future classmates, current students, alumni, faculty and the MBA staff. There are many events throughout the summer designed to foster interactions to others within the Illinois MBA family. If you are unable to attend in person, take advantage of the virtual tools provided by the MBA staff and get to know your classmates.
2. Set some goals
The first semester of the Illinois MBA program can be a hectic time. Between classes, looking for an internship, extracurricular activities and the myriad social events planned for students, your free time may be limited. Now is a good time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish as an Illinois MBA student. For example, if you know you are interested in a certain field or industry, now would be a great time to talking to current students and alumni working or interning in that field. If you are interested in startup companies, read up on the University of Illinois Research Park and maybe even contact a local entrepreneur to learn more about what they do. If you intend to take advantage of the flexible curriculum, now is the time to learn about what classes are available to you.
3. Get used to structured thinking
If someone asked you to estimate the weight of a Boeing 747, you may think it is a silly question and is completely irrelevant to your class work at Illinois. However, in reality, questions like this test structured thinking ability. The ability to understand a problem, develop a plan to solve the problem, analyze available information and make a logical conclusion is an vital skill for MBA students and business leaders. Many of the classes at Illinois involve case analysis and many employers conduct case interviews to identify candidates with superior problem-solving skills.
4. Read a book for fun
It may be the last time you have the opportunity to do so for a while.
The summer is a great time to visit with family and friends, to travel and to relax. You are about to begin an exciting adventure, and it’s best to come in well rested and ready for all you experience in your time at Illinois.