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Preparing for Your First Year of Business School


Posted November 09, 2016 by Hannah DeBevoise - Coordinator, Social Media - AACSB International

The business school process begins before you even step foot on campus or into a classroom. As a future business student, you begin preparing for your business school journey as soon as you start searching for business schools, filling out applications, writing personal essays, and even practicing for business school entrance interviews. These are the stepping stones to getting admitted to the graduate program of your choice; however, once you’re in, it’s just as important to prepare for your first year of graduate school life, which will lay the groundwork for your future career.

Don’t Miss Out on Orientation

Attending orientation events like meet-and-greets, open houses, and other social activities not only gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with campus but also opens doors to networking with your academic peers and instructors. Orientation informs you about the basics of the school you’re attending and helps build a community among students.

If you are planning to complete an online degree and aren’t able to attend in-person events, connect with your school on social media. Join or create an online group for your fellow students and begin to foster conversations.

Keep Your Resume Up to Date

Chances are, before you applied to your top business school choices, you updated your resume for your application. Once you’re accepted, it’s a good idea to make a practice of revisiting your resume and ensuring that it matches your online presence and the professional persona you are trying to achieve.

Further, companies often recruit at college campuses. Find out which organizations recruit from your school and make a short list of those you’re interested in. In preparation for recruitment season and interviews, stay in-the-know with your target companies so you have conversation material for potential interviews and networking opportunities.

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

Old connections are just as important as new ones. While studying in your first year of business school, don’t forget to reach out to old networking contacts, whether a former boss, undergraduate professor, or a friend who has also gone through the graduate school process. Maintaining these connections not only provides great opportunities to share your professional goals but also gives you a cadre of sources for advice during your studies. Business school networking can lead to mutual connections—which can lead to a prospective employer in the future.

Stay Current on Basic Business Skills

Having a solid comfort level with reading, math, and software programs like Excel will help boost your confidence while completing your first year of business school. Many schools offer math camps before the school year begins to help students brush up on basic quantitative skills. If you are feeling a bit behind in the numbers area, attending specialized boot camps or pre-program classes can help in your business school preparation. Invest in a good financial calculator and purchase textbooks in advance to ensure you’re ready for the year ahead.

But don’t neglect the soft skills! Your first year will be packed with reading assignments. If your reading habits stop short at 140-character Tweets, spending some time reading longer pieces, such as long-form articles published in industry magazines, can help you comprehend larger materials that you’ll need to read for class and hone a critical perspective—which will be necessary both in your graduate program and in your post-graduate career.

Take Advantage of Your School’s Resources

Universities are there to help you succeed. If you have questions during your first year in the MBA program or feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take advantage of resources like an academic advisor, a trusted professor, or your MBA peers. Also remember to look outside of your program student groups, dedicated centers, and free services as expanded resources provided by your institution. Financial aid services can help you figure out how to finance your MBA, while tutoring centers can keep you ahead of the class. Reaching out to your school community shows that you not only are comfortable asking for help but are invested in your success. These attributes will serve you well when you graduate feeling confident and ready to take on the business world.

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