Finishing the First Semester: Top 5 Things I Needed

Monday, February 2, 2015

First semester: complete. It was a wild four months–full of long days, even longer nights, and many self-deprecating moments where it seemed like everyone else was discovering the secret key to life…and I just felt lucky to find the keys to my apartment. 

However, as with all of life’s biggest moments, hindsight grants you a completely new perspective. It allows you to step back, re-watch the events unfold (maybe see some replays you wished you could fast-forward), and come to the conclusion that it wasn’t all that bad. Admittedly, it was tough, but it was rewarding. I did a lot of great things and met a lot of amazing people.

Along with a lengthy amount of reflection, the end of such momentous events also provides for the basis of one of my favorite things in life: “end-of lists.” (You know you like them too!)  So, without further ado, I present to you the top 5 items I didn’t realize how much I’d need (but I’m glad I had) during my first semester of the MBA program. 

In no particular order:

1) Flexibility.

Starting an MBA program can be a big decision, and I experienced some difficult days. That being said, a lot of those days ended in me returning home, checking my email, and seeing that I had the opportunity to tour Target Field that week or visit the 3M Innovation Center the following Friday. It would have been easy to pass up some of these events to dedicate more time to school or career development–but in the end, these experiences proved to be just as valuable and unique in different ways. Being flexible with my time and commitments was unexpectedly important in maximizing my personal success this past semester.

2) Something fun that I did for myself.

Before starting the MBA program, I had committed to running the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in October. Training became harder after school started, but it became a required activity that forced me to find time for myself. It was an amazing stress-reliever and gave me more balance and discipline in my life. 

3) A great backpack.

Some days I was only a full-time MBA student. However, most days, I was a full-time MBA student, a business professional involved in networking and career development, and a person who needed to find time to eat, work out, be at school for an event, purchase a birthday gift for a family member, meet a friend for dinner, and pick up milk before going home. Having a great backpack to store the necessities of my many personas – as well as strong organizational and time management skills–was crucial during my first semester.

4) Extra Shampoo. 

There are going to be weeks where it’s just not the best time to have to make an unplanned trip to the store. Unfailingly, during one of those weeks, you will run out of shampoo (I’ve been there!). Do your future self a favor and buy an extra bottle before the semester starts. It sounds silly, but I guarantee you’ll do a little dance when you need a new bottle and find its shiny label in the back of the cabinet. 

5) A strong support system.

I don’t think a lot of explanation is required here. You are probably wondering why this is on the list, or more specifically, why I didn’t realize how much I’d need this. Well, I’ve always prided myself on being able to tackle tough issues and thrive in stressful situations (anyone interested in getting an MBA is like this, I’m pretty sure). It turns out, though, that it’s much easier to thrive and be happy when you have your own set of personal cheerleaders. My friends and family were amazing–always willing to listen and help out if possible. Without them, I would have reached the finish line, but with them, the distance was much easier to cover.

Now–on to a new year and a new semester! As I continue through the MBA program, I am not exactly sure how this list will change. One thing I do know is that I’m excited to find out.