MBA Orientation Off to a Great Start


All’s well at Cass. Yesterday was my first day in the program with the typical meet and greet coffee hour and introductions to the library, IT department, program staff, etc. While an exhausting and somewhat long school day (9-9), it was relatively painless. Also yesterday, we selected our own learning groups — a group of 6-7 people that will complete the group projects together. Choosing groups on the first day is always a bit daunting because you (honestly) have absolutely no idea of who folks are or what they may offer. First impressions are very good and all’s going swimmingly so far. Today, we broke into our learning groups for an entire day of “team building” exercises to help discect our group’s natural interactions so that we can head-off any potential problems at the pass. I have to give Cass credit — they brought in wonderful experts from the HR industry to act as objective facilitators for our groups for the day and the activities were very “meaty” — we got a lot of great input and we all felt much more cohesive as a result of the day.

I’m in for a very LONG and stressful year. It’s clear that I won’t have as much free time as we had once anticipated. While my hours in advertising were long much of the time, it’s likely that this course will match or exceed them.

Here’s basically how the first term works:

Now through Sept. 22. Orientation. Mixed lot of days and activities. Range of hours — generally 9-6 or 9-9.

Sept. 25 – late October. Taking 9 complete course hours (3 classes) in one month.

late October – late November. Taking the second set of 9 (I think?) course hours (3 classes) in one month.

November – March. Group project — working with outside firm.

I believe that the majority of my first term exams are in December — I will take all 6 exams for my first block classes in one week at the end of block two (I think?).

It’s going to be crazy, but worth it. I’ve already picked up a few valuable tidbits and we’re only on day 2. I have a feeling that the program will be the equivalent of 3-5 years business experience, helping to supercharge things as I move forward in my career. Ultimately a good move.

The most notable impression to share is the amazing impact that such a multi-national mix of students will (and has) made on group dynamics. I’m learning, not only, about general business practices, but also from my peers on how customs vary from culture to culture. There are 64 students in all within my program here and they represent a number of industries (almost no one is from the same one) and countries:US, UK, India, South Africa, France, Morocco, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Caribbean, a small island country near Madagascar (can’t remember its name), China, Russia, Czech… the list goes on and on.

In addition to academic lessons, I’ve also picked up:

Jelly is Jello here. Our US Jelly is “Jam”.

Of course the Brits call cookies biscuits, but they’re very unfamiliar with our sorts of biscuits… quite intrigued, in fact.

Pants mean underwear here. US Pants are trousers, instead (interesting story there…)

“Hairy Fairy” is a slang term… anyone know what it means? I’m still trying to figure that one out…

This weekend is our orientation getaway in Portsmouth (Southwest of London). We’re taking part in a sinking ship exercise at the Royal Naval Academy there. We’ll be having meals in the officer’s clubs on site and actually sleeping in bunks there, as well… apparently over 500 gallons of water storm into the ship and we, as a team, have to figure out how to right the boat. It’s a training exercise used by all members of the Royal Navy. No worries, I’m guaranteed to survive… I’ll be waterlogged and cold, but no worse for the wear… so they say.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be while working with such a diverse group? Customs or Communication?

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