If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now - From the Perspective of a Soon-to-Be Carlson Alumni

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In the last month I finished my last class at the Carlson School of Management.  Taking time to reflect I found the experience very rewarding.  Let me tell you what I did right and also about the opportunities I should have taken advantage of from the start.

What I got right:

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to any prospective student is to spend some time working with your boss and significant other to agree to expectations.  Let me give you my two examples:

When I started the program my wife and I had been married for just over a year.  Before I registered for my first class my wife and I talked about how it would affect our lives.  My wife made one request, no Saturday classes.  I could work on homework or meet a group on the weekend but I should try my best to keep the weekend free for us.  In return my wife has been supportive and helpful through the entire program.  She has helped proofread important papers, been flexible with schedules, and been a sounding board for me to refine my ideas.  That doesn’t even begin to account for how great she has been once our daughter entered our lives.  

What about work?  I had to travel one week a month for work.  My boss allowed me to miss or shorten some of these travel obligations in order to attend more lectures.  I still traveled for work and missed several classes but rarely more than one lecture per class.  You might ask if missing a lecture negatively affected my experience.  Thanks to the great professors at Carlson and the flexibility of the part-time MBA program, it wasn’t an issue.  Maybe this is because I contacted my professors and informed them of my work conflicts as soon as possible, often prior to registering for the class.  It is amazing how flexible and helpful they have all been by simply letting them know of the scheduling conflicts in advance.

How I could have improved my experience:

I wish I spent more time taking advantage of all Carlson has to offer.  

In the part-time MBA program here at Carlson you will meet a ton of smart, hardworking, and friendly people.  It is up to you to make the most of your time at Carlson.  I suggest you try your best to network, host happy hours after tests, and get to know your fellow students.  
Carlson has a lot of ways for you to participate outside of class.  I suggest early on in your studies joining a club. As an example, I wish I joined the Leadership Advisory Board, LAB.  They host a ton of events and work as advocates for the part-time students to help the administration improve the Carlson experience.  I have been in the program for almost five years and many of the options and flexibility that have been added to the program came from LAB.  That being said, it has been a great pleasure serving as an Ambassador for Carlson and it is a great way to meet prospective students and be involved.

Take advantage of the Graduate Business Carrier Center, GBCC and your Academic Advisor.  They can open up new possibilities for you and help you plot a path that will set you up for success.  By talking to a GBCC advisor early on you can establish your career goals and the experience gaps that may hinder you reaching those goals.  You can then talk to your Academic Advisor to get advice on the courses that can help fill those gaps.  GBCC and your Academic Advisor are powerful resources on their own but when utilized together will help you make the most of your Carlson experience.

Norman on a boat group picture