Whoever said that studying for an MBA was like drinking from a firehose was lying. It’s more like drinking from two firehoses.
Full of bees.
This week signified the start of the second semester of the MBA. The SMU campus itself is mostly quiet as the undergraduates are still on holidays, but the business students are thrown straight back into the fray as soon as possible. It could be that the few weeks of downtime over December left me over-relaxed, but the first week of classes hit hard.
The schedule this semester may be a contributor. There are a lot of early starts and late finishes; Monday through Wednesday I’m in class from as early as 9am and finishing at 9:30p.m. each night, and that’s not including the time spent on campus beforehand at the gym or the time afterwards at rugby training.
By Wednesday of this first week I was utterly exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally. It seemed that the advice that the first semester was the hardest was wrong. Semester two is harder. The honeymoon period of excitement about being in a new program in a new environment is over, and you’re faced with the steady grind towards the end goal.
The situation probably isn’t helped by the fact that this semester presents a heavy workload for the MA/MBA students (or MAMBAs as they are colloquially known). To get our elective requirements out of the way, some of us are overloading classes, taking five instead of four (and in my case a sixth class in career management). To add to the workload, one of the classes has been compressed from an eight week course to a five week course, meaning an extra lecture per week. Us MAMBAs are rallying together to weather the storm, rotating duties to bring coffee and snacks to keep us fed and caffeinated.
Another thing that has hit us hard is the speed with which assignments have been handed out. Even in the compressed eight week module format, we’re usually given a week to settle in before the assignments start coming. However, this time around we’ve been hit with multiple assignments, including two group assignments, all due next week; the lecturers seem intent on front-loading a lot of the assessment, making for a very busy week.
To top that all off, as part of the MAMBA program we are required to undertake three practical training internships, the first of which takes place this semester. On Thursday I started my internship at the Dallas Opera. I’m working in their development department (in Australian terms that’s the fundraising team), where I’ll be performing data analysis with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of the Dallas Opera’s fundraising work. The first day was relatively straightforward, and I got to meet most of the administrative staff of the company. They’re a great group of people, with a lot of energy and passion. It’s also great to be back at an opera house again, even if it is in the back office and not on the stage.
The intensity of the coursework has meant that it is all the more important to remain focused on the reasons why I’ve chosen to do this program, namely to build the skills required to go out and make an impact in the arts. Getting some time to be involved directly with arts organisations is almost as good as a break. It reinvigorates the passion. Even the effort of dragging one’s tired body to a concert or a play at the end of the day is worth it.
Okay, so I admit the above paragraphs may sound a bit like a whinge (and let’s face it, in some ways it is). It has been a tough week.
However, in the absence of any other reasonable option, you get on and deal with it. When faced with a challenge you up your game to match it.
The background photo on my phone is of a poster by the graphic designer Anthony Burrill, the slogan of which has become a mantra for me:
Work hard and be nice to people.
It’s simple, but effective. And it’s helped me focus on the important things over the past six months. After this week though, the mantra for this semester has become clear. Semester two, in effect, is the sequel:
Work harder. Be nicer.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a few assignments to finish before tomorrow…
Observations on music, coffee, and the occasional controversial thought.
Copyright © Gerard Atkinson 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the owner is strictly prohibited.