Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inside the MBA: perspectives from an NYU Stern MBA2 - Vol. 4

One of my business school friends started a countdown to graduation on her Facebook status last week. 70 days until May 13, 2010 (eek!). This leaves 70 days, give or take, to cement everything I've learned over the last couple of years and to think about how I can apply those lessons over the course of my career.

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned the classes I'm taking during my last semester that I was really excited about. Well, that list has evolved slightly (that's the beauty of Drop/Add!) but I'm still just as excited because my courses this semester complement each other, and hopefully my skill set, really well. I'm currently studying New Venture Financing, Business Plan Practicum, Corporate Turnarounds, and Restructuring (to name a few). These are all courses that focus on how to take an unstable business - either because it's already failed or because it's not yet proven - and how to make it into a successful one. Through each of these classes, I'm learning to essentially strip through the bad or unpromising, and focus on the viable core or promising opportunity, and develop a strategy for how to make that piece thrive. Sounds fun, right?

Most of you are probably somewhere on the spectrum of either waiting to hear, deciding between business schools, or already preparing for matriculation. More than likely, you've put your essays (and the introspection and the self-analysis that's required) far behind you! But regardless of where you are in the waiting game, the type of self-analysis that goes into a business school application should be an ongoing process. In a way, your current situation can always be viewed as a sort of unsteady state that can be readjusted for even greater success with some modifications. What I've learned through my classes this semester is that what may appear to be steady state can also be opportunity for great success (or failure!) and that sometimes, all it takes is the smallest of catalysts to affect that change. To avoid failure, it helps to have clear insight of the situation and to be prepared to face whatever adverse conditions may come your way.

For those of you waiting for the next step, I'd encourage you to spend some time to keep doing a bit of that self analysis while you wait. Think about what value proposition you offer, why should consumers want your product, what is your viable core, and what you may need to restructure or reassess in order to be as successful as you can be. While it may seem like you just completed this exercise for your application essays, these are questions you should be asking throughout. Spend some time now talking to people whose jobs sound interesting to you and ask them how they got there. Take some time to read through the paper and read up on the companies that catch your eye and think about why they pique your interest. Business school is a rapid two-years and the more that you can do now to prepare for it, the better prepared you'll be and the more efficiently you can spend that valuable time (maybe even to have a little bit more fun!)

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