Reflecting on the year while paddling down the Mississippi

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This past week our class had the opportunity to canoe down the Mississippi as a final event before we head off to our internships or to start our new ventures.  One of the things that struck me about the canoe trip was how it was a microcosm of the MBA experience.  You are all in the same boat going down the same river, your teammates’ efforts can have a significant effect on your experience, and once you land everyone goes off to pursue their own adventure.  Canoeing is a perfect analogy to the MBA experience because we are all in business school, our efforts on our core and enterprise teams affect each other, and now that the year is over, we are going off to pursue our passions in our internships or new business ventures.

Besides musing on the similarities between canoeing and business school during my trip down the river, I also had the opportunity to reflect on the year in general – what I’ve learned, what I’ve accomplished, and the friendships I’ve made.  During this reflection, I realized that the first year of business school has been one of the best years of my life.  Nowhere else have I felt as comfortable as I do at Carlson.  Not comfort from a lack of challenge, but comfort from being around people who have similar goals, who have a similar intellectual curiosity, and who desire to make an impact.  Simply put, I couldn’t be in better company.

As for what I’ve accomplished, I’ve participated in several case competitions, led a consulting team on a real project, and secured an internship with one of the world’s premier tech companies.  While I would’ve been able to do several of these things at other schools, I know that Carlson is one of the few places that provides the opportunity to accomplish all of them.  As I look back I can’t believe the number of case competitions we were invited to, the number of Fortune 500s that recruited on campus and the real projects that students had the opportunity to work on – last semester some of my classmates were able to work on a strategy project for a Fortune 20 company!

Concerning the lessons I’ve learned over the past year, some were gained in the classroom while I learned others by way of experience.  In the classroom, I learned how companies need to avoid being everything to everyone and at home I learned that it’s tough to balance time for family, friends, and studying.  I’ve also learned how to look at an ambiguous problem, use a structured process to bring sense to it and ultimately solve it.

Overall, the first year of business school was incredible.  Regardless of the late-night study sessions, the weekends spent locked in a breakout room working on a case or the hours practicing responses to “tell me about a time,” I’ve had a ton of fun and made some great friends along the way.  I am excited for the summer and my next challenge in my internship, but I’m also looking forward to next year and reconnecting with my classmates to face the final year of business school.

Group picture on Mississippi River


Group Photo
Canoes by the Mississippi