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class of 2022

First-Year MBAs Open Up About Second-Semester Challenges, Balancing Extracurriculars and Coursework

With the second semester at its halfway point, first-year MBAs are becoming masters of time management as they explore their unique business interests while engaging in extracurriculars and assuming leadership roles on campus.

We recently checked in with members of The Consortium’s class of 2022 to see how the second semester is going. MBAs Whitney Pollard, Alyssa Buchanan, Bryan Shepherd and Chumar Williams share how the second semester is living up to their expectations, what they’ve learned about themselves and what they are most looking forward to in the weeks ahead. 

Bryan Shepherd
Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Bryan ShepherdThe spring semester is something I have been looking forward to since early in the fall! Jokes aside, it is a relief to be done with virtually all of our core classes, as I now have a solid foundation from which to dive into the electives that best fit my goals. Goizueta matches students to a semester-long client project where we are given an opportunity to solve a real business problem. My own project is focused on strategic management — an engaging challenge both in a traditional, cognitive sense and from an emotional intelligence perspective.

I must admit that I have had to better manage my expectations, as I did expect the spring semester to be a bit less time-intensive than the fall, but it feels like core semester 2.0 so far. While this is a bit of my own doing, as I have picked up an extra class and have dove into opportunities on campus, I choose to view a hard schedule as a chance to increase my capacity and efficiency as I look to build habits that will sustain a 30-year career in strategy consulting. To that point, feeling confident in my career goals and priorities before starting business school has been tremendously helpful — both from a recruiting and personal development standpoint. Clear goals in mind, I’m focused on strategy and economics classes this spring. This fills gaps in my business acumen so that I can better communicate with colleagues, while exposing me to the tactical analysis skills I need to improve to generate empirical support for strategy decisions. I strongly believe that strategy leaders have an opportunity to help businesses understand the interconnected nature of value creation and growth with diversity, equity and inclusion and sustainability.

Lastly, I have tried to remain outside of my comfort zone and involve myself on campus wherever possible in order to add value. In the fall, I was selected by my peers to serve as the first-year representative for our consulting club and as co-chair for our diversity recruitment weekend. Recently, I was also elected vice president of diversity and inclusion for our Graduate Business Association. I want to help position diversity and inclusion as a strategic advantage for my program and something that improves the experience for all students.

Whitney Pollard
University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Whitney Pollard“To whom much is given much is required.” That quote has definitely been top of mind as I have gone through this semester. The new year started, and I found myself struggling to keep my head above water.  I thought the first quarter of my MBA year would be the most difficult. However, I quickly learned that not only would my second semester be the most challenging so far, it would also be the most rewarding. I found myself trying to balance class and the demands of extracurricular activities. It was the first time I actually had to decide how I would prioritize social, academic and leadership opportunities. 

I came to Ross to make an impact on the student body, develop a strong network and gain the skills to be a leader in human capital. Reflecting on my why allowed me to determine what was important for me to focus on this semester. I was able to take two electives — negotiation and business law — which I really enjoyed. I was also able to plan and lead Diversity Week and was elected as the incoming MBA Council president. 

Your time in business school really goes by fast, and it’s important to remember your goals and use that to manage your time and stay focused.

Alyssa Buchanan
The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Alyssa BuchananHello everyone! I hope life has been treating you well. As I approach mid-semester, I must say that my MBA journey thus far has been unusual. I did not have any expectations for this term, which has helped me navigate through these unprecedented times. Alongside everything else happening in the world, Austin experienced a snowstorm that led to water pipes bursting, power outages and below freezing nights. However humbling the storm may have been, we were all happy to see bright and sunny days once it was over. Once power returned and our classes resumed, we all became a tad more resilient and adaptable. 

First-year student officers are experiencing the joys and triumphs of virtual leadership. For myself, the responsibility has expanded my ways of communicating and taught me how to filter information for the most important details. Having the opportunity to serve in multiple leadership roles is very exciting, yet demanding. 

I would highly recommend strategizing your responsibilities to fit the group dynamic. This tip has helped my teams feel appreciated, supported and encouraged to fulfill the obligations of their roles. I look forward to sharing with you all the many things that are in the works for the fall semester. Hook ’Em!

Chumar Williams
Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Chumar Williams

It’s been a while, but a lot has really fallen into place since my last entry in January. My second semester has gotten off to a much smoother start than the first semester, now that I’m comfortable with the routine and rigor of business school overall. Our class schedule is less condensed than before as well, which has given us a lot more time to focus on recruiting, clubs, networking, etc. One of my favorite things about my newly minted free time has been [more time to] dedicate to our Center for Experiential Learning projects, which simulate real consulting engagements with actual clients throughout the semester. I’ve been working with a local HVAC company to identify and target new markets to enter in the near future, which has been a great intro to high-level consulting leading into my internship this summer.

Speaking of internship, I accepted an offer to join ZS Associates Inc. this summer as a strategy insights & planning associate intern within Business Consulting. Accepting this offer, I felt like a significant weight was lifted off my back because the grind of recruiting, networking, casing and overall interview prep was no joke! I came into Olin hoping to get an intro into the consulting industry, so I am more than happy to see that all coming together. 

Some of my favorite classes here so far have been around the general topics of strategy and marketing, which are two critical functions of my internship that align perfectly. I am more than happy with how

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