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Class of 2022 MBAs

First-Year MBAs Share How Connections They’ve Made, Understanding They’ve Gained Is Helping Them Set Goals in 2021

With the first semester complete, first-year MBAs are feeling more confident in their abilities and are looking forward to the semester ahead. Many have already set goals for the new year and are excited about what their second semester will bring. 

We recently checked in with members of The Consortium’s class of 2022 to see how the first semester went. MBAs Whitney Pollard, Alyssa Buchanan, Bryan Shepherd and Chumar Williams shared insights they gained, tips for taking on (and crushing!) finals and what they are looking forward to in the months ahead.

Whitney Pollard
University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Whitney PollardThe first semester of the first year of my MBA is over, and it was definitely an amazing whirlwind. Finals are over, and I am excited to have not only transitioned successfully to student life but to have also performed well in my classes.

 This semester, I really appreciated the intentionality of my professors in incorporating into courses the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to marketing, finance and management. This allowed me to develop deeper connections with my classmates and to have uncomfortable conversations related to race, gender and socioeconomic status. On election night, I was able to host a small gathering with sections mates and discuss the state of our country and how we plan to use business to help bridge the divide that currently exists. 

During this semester, not only did we experience an intense election, but we continued to see our justice system fail black Americans, as the case of Breonna Taylor was not [ruled] a homicide. I was so grateful for my Consortium community during this time as we quickly came together and hosted a Zoom call to provide a safe space to share our feelings. Times such as these are always difficult for me because it reminds me that, as a black American woman, some individuals do not value my life. The men of our Consortium community wanted to make sure we knew we are valued; they presented each of us with a rose and hosted a brunch in our honor. It was a great demonstration of how this community shows up daily in my MBA experience to support me during both the highs and lows. I am very appreciative and excited to continue to build deeper connections with my Consortium family.

This past semester reminded me that although I am currently living in an MBA bubble, it is my responsibility to continue to advocate and fight against the injustices that exist for the black community. This work does not start when I leave b-school but rather now, and I have to continue to be intentional about uplifting underrepresented communities. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “After the Selma movement in 1965, we were able to get a Voting Rights Bill. And all of these things represented strides. But we must see that the struggle today is much more difficult. It’s more difficult today because we are struggling now for genuine equality.” My goal this semester is to plant seeds toward genuine equality.

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

Hello everyone, and happy new year!

Alyssa BuchananI’ve received my grades from last semester, and I’m proud to announce that I’m still here! Prepping for finals can be very stressful when you don’t know what to expect. If you’re lucky, a professor will provide previous exams to help you identify study material. One strategy that I began implementing was carving out time on a daily basis for note review. This ensured that I was familiar with the material prior to finals week. 

Holistically, last semester was super exciting — from start to finish. Despite COVID-19, I’ve been able to build relationships with my classmates and other MBA students within The Consortium. Those relationships have helped me academically and professionally; the community is very much a family. Next semester, I will have a variety of leadership roles in addition to my course load; therefore, my main objective is to be more organized than I was previously. 

If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be: Get organized. There is so much to become involved in that you are always at risk of becoming overwhelmed. But once you have a good system in place, you will execute your tasks seamlessly. My hope for the spring term is that I will be able to explore entrepreneurship and have many more opportunities to work with my classmates. I’m excited for 2021. Hook ‘em!

Bryan Shepherd
Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Happy new year! We’ve just finished one of the most unusual years in my lifetime as we transition into our second semester as full-time MBA students. The break was much needed as I used it to reflect on what went well and how I can be a better teammate, as well as track progress toward my personal goals.Bryan Shepherd

Finals and the end of the fall semester turned out quite well for me. I tried to focus on learning rather than grades. This prioritization of the process as opposed to being solely focused on the outcome allowed me to lean into classes I didn’t think I’d initially like and to learn from professors who I assumed I had little in common with. Talks with Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program Brian Mitchell helped me understand the importance of discussing class content as part of our lives, which helped me develop a deeper understanding of how economics, capital markets and corporate strategy impact our daily decisions. Ultimately, I ended up with grades [either near the top or the average for my classes.] It’s very clear that prioritizing kept me focused. I’m so thankful for the Consortium students, alumni and university professors who reinforced this for me.

Being able to focus on learning instead of going through the motions was only possible because of the early internship offers I received as a result of The Consortium’s Orientation Program & Career Forum back in June. This freed me to focus on academics instead of devoting time to interviewing and researching companies during my core semester. These early offers have also allowed me to serve as a resource to my peers. I’ve been able to speak directly with about 85 percent of my class, largely because I’ve been able to use my additional time to help others with behavioral and case interviews, take on a leadership role within our consulting association and give back to the next round of Goizueta Consortium applicants as co-chair of our diversity-focused recruitment event.

This semester, I want to [continue to step] out of my comfort zone by surrounding myself with second-year students and people who can push me forward. I want to challenge myself to continue to manage my time well. But I must be more intentional about the time I spend on my mental and physical health this spring; my goal is to build the personal habits to sustain a 30-year post-MBA career.

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

Chumar WilliamsAfter completing the first semester of my MBA this past week, I can finally say that this school year has indeed been one for the books thus far. I’ve continued to grow much more than expected in this current climate, and it wouldn’t be possible without The Consortium and the classmates I’m surrounded by. It has been tough operating under a hybrid/online school system at times, but the environment has not delayed the growth and opportunities presented to us here. Whether it’s career-related, academically driven or socially influenced, I’ve found myself on the positive end of the equation when utilizing the resources put forth by both WashU and The Consortium.

Wrapping up the semester with finals already presented a greater demand for efficient time management and communication, but recruiting for consulting made this efficiency even more necessary. Consulting recruiting started to pick up right before finals went live and have continued into the winter break with increased networking, case preparation, interviews and subsequent offers. Throughout all of this, The Consortium has offered me a valuable network of employees with which to connect, students to communicate and case prep with and industry insight that I would not have otherwise had going to the recruiting cycle — and I could not be more thankful.

It has definitely been quite the semester with class and recruiting happening in tandem, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. I’m hoping to turn my lessons from this past semester into even more beneficial experiences inside and outside of the classroom while finalizing an offer in the near future. Plenty will change between now and the next blog posting, and it is all looking more than promising!

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