5 Things to Know about Your First Year in B-School

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John Tate and Lindy Keyser, MBA candidates
You’ve been accepted into the MBA program at the Neeley School of Business. Your schedule is set, and you’ve even met some of your professors and fellow MBA candidates.

You may feel well prepared, but do you really know what to expect during your first year as an MBA student? Two Neeley School 2016 MBA candidates, Lindy Keyser and John Tate, share some valuable truths about your first year.

Your MBA experience begins the moment you are accepted.

“Every MBA student begins his or her program in pursuit of personal growth and with sky’s-the-limit goals in mind, so don't wait until you're told to polish your resume and don't hold off until November to start considering the jobs and internships that catch your eye. Read everything, research constantly and get your resume in front of as many people as possible before you step foot onto campus, because believe me, if you don't hit the ground running it'll take you weeks to catch up.” - Lindy Keyser

You will be challenged.

“The first year is intense. Our faculty members are thought leaders in their respective fields and expect the absolute best in terms of quality. When my family asked what the first semester felt like, I compared it to sprinting a marathon. While difficult, reaching the finish line was beyond rewarding.”

With the challenge comes sacrifice. “You will always have opportunity costs. It will take you time to figure out how to balance your priorities. Academics, internship search, extracurricular activities and family life will all be demanding your time. Early on, I struggled to find balance.” - John Tate

It will be competitive, but your peers are not your competition.

“Our culture is such that we compete in everything that we do but support each other through the process. It mimics the competition that we will all face after we finish the program.” - Tate

During the first year, you spend a big portion of every day with the same 40-50 people. You move together from class to class, eat your meals together, etc. In fact, I spent easily as much time with my classmates in the first semester as I did with my one-year-old daughter. Treat one another with kindness and respect. Be friendly, motivating and inclusive. You want each and every one of your peers to be exceptionally successful because it increases the value of your own degree. Furthermore, five and 10 years from now, you'll want them as connections and as references. The students you sit with in class every day are not your competition—they’re your future network. Treat them accordingly.” - Keyser

Use your resources.

“You are returning to school because you are competitive, ambitious and eager to embark on a two-year journey of personal and professional growth. Don't try to make this transformation on your own. You are surrounded by people who are genuinely invested in your success. Use them! Participate in mock interviews, submit your resume until it is perfect, attend C-levels and professional campus visits and travel to career fairs. Make the most of this experience. You get out of it what you put in.” - Keyser

“The first week of classes, I attended a C-Level Confidential with the President of Frito-Lay. The Neeley School has strong ties with industry and you will constantly get access to executives and alumni. Further, you will get to know everyone in your class. That is rare for an MBA program and something that the Neeley School is very intentional about.” - Tate

You CAN do this!

“I entered this program as a single mom with a journalism undergrad and a background in photography and graphic design. Within days I was filled with self-doubt, and in a matter of weeks I had developed a perpetual eye twitch likely triggered by my recent caffeine addiction. Now I am concentrating in investment finance and killing my internship search. The point is that at least once during your first semester you are going to feel defeated, exhausted and overwhelmed. Push through it. You wouldn't be here if you hadn't earned it, and exploring the reasons that you might not belong is a serious waste of time. Our motto this semester was ‘survive and advance,’ that is, take the low test scores and sleepless nights in stride. Keep moving forward. You can do this!” - Keyser

Returning to school for your MBA won’t be a breeze, but the benefits of earning your MBA from a top school such as TCU far outweigh the challenges you will face as an MBA student. Use these tips and take advantage of the advice available from second-year students and alumni, and you will be well-prepared for your first semester and beyond.
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