Welcome to a top MBA program — “You might die”

2 09 2012

I’ve now been in Pittsburgh a little over a month and am getting used to it here. I must say, Pittsburgh’s transportation system needs some help. I mean, let’s put a mobile phone app together and know where the busses are at what time. If they’re late, at least you know and aren’t standing there for 30 minutes wondering if it’s coming. It’s really not that hard. Out of all the brilliant CMU and Tepper students here in Pittsburgh, I’m shocked that something like this hasn’t been created. Maybe I have found my calling.

Needless to say, I’ve been walking a lot. I may end up with grey hair at the end of this program, but at least I’ll have nice calves. Hopefully I’ll still be alive by the end of it.

This was the first week of classes. We really jumped in quickly. I’ve been on campus studying until 9pm at least 3 nights this week. After the second day of class when I hadn’t eaten dinner at home yet that week, I was started to get a little scared. Tepper likes to have us work in teams, which is good. Sometimes I’d rather do things on my own, however, when you have homework this difficult, it’s great to be able to be a part of a team and all go through it together. A team of us spent about 5 hours in the library working through Managerial Economics problems. There were only three questions (they were multi-part questions, but still!).

When I taught my Management Information Systems class at Biola University, I made it a lot more difficult than it had previously been. I wanted the students at Biola in the Crowell School of Business to have to work hard and spend a lot of time understanding these concepts that were important for business. I required and expected a lot from my students. Now, going through classes that are this difficult at Tepper, I don’t feel bad at all about the difficulty level that I had my students do for MIS at Biola! You have to prepare somehow for crazy work! If only they knew what a top MBA program required! Oye. This is going to be a tough year.

I understand that it’s important to have an integrated view of business, but it’s difficult for me to take statistics, economics, and accounting (again! since I took them in undergrad) and view how the specifics of it will be beneficial for me as an IT leader. Yes, I know it’s important to understand the broad picture of how they all work, but I won’t be figuring out Stats formulas. That’s why I’m not a statistician! I will have someone who’s pulling those numbers for me and telling me what I should do based off of their findings. You have to understand enough to analyze it, but I don’t feel like the nitty-gritty is that crucial. It’s discouraging also to have done this work as an undergrad, but still have it be difficult. I haven’t done any math for the past 7-ish years. When you’re in the field working, you are specializing in what you do best (for me that was IT server learning). Your brain only has so much real estate space, right? What doesn’t get used frequently tends to slip out and not be remembered to make way for the more important things that you do need to use daily.

A lot of students at Tepper are “Career Switchers”, meaning that they were engineers or artists before and now want to be finance or marketing gurus. Sure, if you’ve not been in a business role/field, it’s important for you to understand these intro/overview classes so that you know what’s going on in business. But for someone who wants to continue on in their current field, but with more experience and knowledge, it makes it difficult.

A little frustrating also is the fact that we start working on career prep and job searching so early on in the program. I didn’t want to look for new jobs. I wanted to grow in my knowledge and then at the end move on to a new job. My goal in being in school is to LEARN not to get a job. (Obviously, I’ll need a job at the end of it with all of these loans, but that’s not my focus). This is something that bothers me, especially since I’m someone who is a huge supporter of the actual learning process, and not just the result.

One of the reasons that I really like Tepper though is that you have a lot of smart people without the attitude. People here are very friendly and willing to help out. I don’t think in B-school that this is always the case. I think its pretty unique to Tepper that there’s such a  good community! I really value that, because it’s something that’s important to me personally, and something that was very strong at Biola too (both in the staff and student areas).

Other updates:

My church (Bellefield Presbyterian Church) is awesome and I’ve met some great people there already. I’ve also decided to be a part of the InterVarsity Grad Christian Fellowship group on campus at CMU and have been a part of a Bible Study there. My roommates are awesome and we’ve been having a fun time together.

Fun things over the week:

Celebrated Yelena’s (my roommate) birthday, so made gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes! So good. We enjoyed them throughout the week.

Visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house a little outside of Pittsburgh with Jim and Ashely. Had a great time seeing the intricacies of architecture and how everything he did in the house was tied together and had a theme.

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