Why Carlson Needs a Sorting Hat

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fans of the Harry Potter series know what I’m referring to, but for anyone else who is confused about what a sorting hat is, I’ll take a moment to explain.  In the world of Harry Potter, specifically at the school that Harry Potter attends, there are different houses to which students belong.  The sorting hat comes into the picture because instead of choosing a house, students try on the hat, which then decides for the student.  The reason I think Carlson needs a sorting hat is that for some (myself included), the decision of what enterprise to preference is almost as hard as the decision of what school to attend.

One of the major reasons I chose Carlson was the strength of the enterprise program, and how well it applies the concepts learned in the classroom to the problems faced by real companies.  The enterprise also serves as a platform to build experiences that prepare students for their future careers. As a career changer, the experience of the enterprise, and therefore, the selection of the enterprise is of utmost importance to my MBA experience.  Because of the gravity of the decision, for students that are conflicted (like myself), the magic of a sorting hat is extremely appealing.

After speaking with Student Affairs and discovering that sorting hats are not a budgeted item for this fiscal year, I decided to go through the process of finding the right enterprise.  That process started with identifying where I wanted my career to go and what experiences I needed now to help me accelerate my journey.  With that step, I narrowed my options from four to three.  

The next step I took was to schedule meetings with each of the enterprise directors and find out more about them and their vision for their respective enterprises.  While I would love to say that those meetings clarified things for me, they actually confused me even more.  Not because of anything that was wrong with the three directors, but because of everything that was right!  I could see myself developing different, but equally valuable skillsets in the three organizations and getting unique experiences that would propel my career forward.

Following my meetings with the enterprise directors, the next step in my process was to have conversations with second year students.  I asked them about their projects, their teammates and their directors.  Everyone was extremely happy with their choice, but also made it clear that any of the three enterprises that I was interested in would be great for my Carlson experience.  In fact, a number of the students I spoke with were confused as to why I was putting so much effort to choose between three great options.

After speaking with several second years, I took the advice of one of them and looked at where my first year classmates were going.  One of my classmates had already anticipated the importance of working with friends in an enterprise, so she created a spreadsheet for people to list their preferences. With that information in hand, the decision was…still just as tough as when I started, as all of my classmates have amazing qualities/experiences and their selection was evenly split among all the enterprises.  

In the end, I took all the information I had gathered and made a decision based on my gut.  I made the decision based on intuition because after conducting all of my research, I realized that any choice I made would result in a great experience – so coming up with an excel model with perfect weightings and ratings was not worth the effort.  I’m extremely happy with my choice and know that even though I didn’t have the benefit of a sorting hat, it was still the right choice for me.