While many MBA programs last two full years, the first week back at school is one of the most important stretches business school students will experience. Sure, there are no exams and the hard work hasn’t really begun, but week-one is when you set yourself up for success through networking.
But there are also a few less obvious things that you should during your first week as an MBA. We talked to a few anonymous business school grads and asked for some tips. Here’s what they said. If you are starting in January, or if you’re just applying for the fall, take heed.
Schedule the right courses
Recruiting starts extremely early at most top schools, particularly by consulting firms. If you don’t come from a strict finance background, get your core courses – accounting, statistics, strategy etc. – scheduled for the first semester so that you can talk-the-talk during interviews and networking sessions.
In fact, one MBA we talked to suggests taking an online finance course before the program begins to re-familiarize yourself with the concepts, particularly if you’ve been out of school for sometime and have an atypical career path. Taking a class in Excel is also highly advisable.
Stop by the career center
Though it’s clearly too early to get any real help from the career center during your first week, introducing yourself as possible is advisable. “These people have power and are usually easily sold with a smile. There is no reason not to get on their radar as a go-getter and better understand how they work,” said one recent MBA.
Understand the library and printing center
“AKA your happy place,” said another MBA. You are going to be spending a lot of time in these places so it’s best to understand where they are and how the whole system works.
“Once school gets going, everyone will be freaking out and you will be sorted, because you know you need a printing card and that the back corner is always empty so you can dip while you study,” he said.
Judge your peers
You’ll need friends, or at least allies, if you want the MBA experience to not be a complete headache. Share on twitter “Most work is done in groups , so its ‘s good to know what your are getting into because you will have to deal with all these personalities,” one MBA said.
“Find out who’s smart – be aggressive and ask to be in their group,” added another. “If you aren’t smart enough, become the organizer.”
Be organized but don’t go crazy
Like any other level of school, some students come in day-one armed to the teeth with enough supplies to sink a ship. Don’t bother, says one MBA.
“See what the requirements are then hit the bookstore,” he said. “Don’t be the guy who comes in the first day with five-star, five subject notebooks and a pack of 100 red pens, before the professor says ‘no red pens’.”