A Welcome Letter to All MBA Students

We want to welcome new MBA and graduate students starting today along with those coming back for their second or third year!

Did you know money can buy happiness? The more money you make, the happier you will be, but only up to $75,000 a year as mentioned in this study conducted by Princeton University. After that, it has been proven more money will not make you happier. You may have already been at that level before starting your MBA and if not then this degree will likely allow you to get there.

If you want deeper happiness you need to figure out what drives you, what is your why and purpose in life. These next two years will be the perfect time to discover your purpose. Explore as much as you can, take those classes that seem interesting, go to networking events and talk to strangers, do a study abroad, or whatever it takes to put yourself out of your comfort zone.

Playing the “MBA student card” is something you will be able to do only for the next two or three years, use that power wisely by trying as many things as you can. Having a short stint of jobs in 2-3 completely different industries may not normally look good on a resume, but as a student it can be a great thing. This is your one chance, make the most out of it.

To First Year Students

Alejandro: Congratulations! Go out and celebrate, just by entering an MBA or a graduate program you are already in the top 8% of educated individuals in the United States. And if you consider the world you are even higher. This means you are already successful, take the time to celebrate.

One thing high performers don’t do well is to enjoy their successes, to be mindful and appreciate every step in the journey. Work on getting better at that as quick as possible, in this short video Tim Ferriss shares a great technique to get better at celebrating the small wins.

As an international student, I was worried about the academic and language challenges. If I could go back I would tell myself to take it easy. I didn’t have to dedicate that much time to the academics to do well. I wish I would’ve started building meaningful connections earlier and taken the time to have fun with my classmates.

The best thing you can do, so that you can relax a bit, is to take the first couple of week to understand yourself, and the process and workflow that allows you to perform at your best. Are you more creative and a better writer at night? Do you like to wake up early and do all your assignments and have nights free to go out? Figure out what works best for you as quick as possible and then just keep doing that.

Another thing I would do is to reach out to as many 2nd year students, faculty, and advisors as possible. Many people have traveled the same route you are about to start, much of the tools and resources that worked for them will work for you. Save time by reaching out and learning from their experience. A 10-15 minute coffee chat can save you hours. That’s the goal of Your MBA Purpose, to help you work smart and hard right off the bat.

Here are some helpful resources:

Matt: I have to admit as much I enjoyed my MBA, I am excited that I am not going back to class today.  My program at Bauer elevated me to new heights and changed my perspective on both work and life.  However, I enjoy not having hours of accounting homework.  

There is one thing I do wish I could go back and do though as I think of my MBA, I should have relaxed my first year.  I was so worried about grades, events, networking, internships, and more that I did not really enjoy my first semester.  

I distinctly remember one weekend doing a marathon homework session.  My son, at the time less than a year old, was crying in the background, my in-laws showed up and were asking me about school, and the TV was on some irrelevant show.  I thought the pressure was going to make me explode.  Yet, why was I worried?  

I knew I would get through the class.  My classmates and I had such a good relationship that we helped each other out with homework.  I should have simply relaxed.

I know you are thinking, “I can’t relax there is too much to do!”  You are correct there is a lot you must accomplish your first semester; however, many of those things you must do can easily be learned.  Just look at all the information Alejandro and I have put together on tools for a successful MBA and more.  

The soft- and hard-skills will come with time and experience.  Do not worry about those aspects of a program as many people guide you through coursework, networking, and applying for internships.

What those people can’t do is teach you how to relax.  

That is a choice you must make on your own.  Your first semester will be tough, accept it and move on to a state of relaxation.  Take on challenges as they come and do not become stressed out about the mountain of obstacles coming your way, you will take them on one step at a time.

To Second and Third Year Students

Alejandro: Graduation is right around the corner. Are you taking the steps needed to achieve your goal by graduation time? As students, we are here because we want to take our career to the next level, we don’t just want a job. That goal and career will look different for everyone, and that is excellent. But be sure that you have a clear picture of what it takes to get where you want to be.

Something I would recommend is to get a feel of life as an alumni. I recently went to the Bauer Alumni meeting, and I understood that graduation is just the beginning of my life as a Coog and Bauer alum. There are so many opportunities to give back to your school and community, start discovering those and planning how those contributions will look like for you. Just participating in the events will add value, and will allow you to keep building meaningful connections. Here is a great opportunity to meet Bauer and UH Alumni on September 17th.

During the alumni meeting, I learned that the University of Houston has invested $1 billion in the campus and by staying only in the business school buildings I’m missing most of it. So one of my goals for this second year is to take the time to visit the whole campus (but when the heat goes down a little bit).

Matt: In your second or third year of your MBA program you can see the finish line!  You will have made it through countless hours of studying, networking events, and practicing your perfect interview responses.  There is a really practical insight I want to share with you instead of the more technical advice which you will learn, for example, how to land a job, nail the interview, or figure out how to only be on campus one hour a week your last semester (guilty!).

Here is the practical advice . . . enjoy your last year!

Seriously, take the time to look around when you are on campus.  You are in an MBA program!  

Millions of people around the world do not have the opportunity to attend such a program due to third-world infrastructures, political instability, war, or inequality.  For many of you, just a few decades ago you would not be where you are because of your ethnicity, nationality, or gender.  

Realize the opportunity you have been given and enjoy it.  Many people worked and sacrificed over the years for you to attend an MBA program.  

Think about that for a minute.  Even coming from a middle-class family, I am the first in my immediate family with an advanced degree because of sacrifices that I can trace for generations.  I should have enjoyed my MBA more instead of being worried about the future.

As you go into your final year, take time throughout your weeks to stop worrying about that finance test, job interview, or upcoming event.  Look around and take in where you are.  There will likely never be another time in your life where you learn as fast, meet as many amazing people, or are able to test your mental limits.  Enjoy it!

Summary

Alejandro is beginning his final year and I recently graduated.  Our advice comes from experience and is intended for you to think of aspects of your MBA outside of the technical skills.  There are numerous resources for those items within your program and on our blog.

What you will rarely hear is to simply relax, explore your campus, think of life as an alum, and enjoy your experience.  

Those are aspects that most people miss.  They go through their program worried to the point their education becomes the largest stressor in their life.  As said above, throughout your program take moments to stop and be still.  Think of the sacrifices you and your family have overcome for you to be in an MBA program.  You have already done so much and will leave as one of the most educated people in the world.

Enjoy that feeling and move forward to do something amazing in your program.

Connect with Alejandro and myself, we enjoy hearing your story of success.

This is a series of articles by Alejandro I. Sanoja and Matt Avery