Written by Shannon Alexander, MBA ‘23:
The other day as I was getting ready for school, I found myself lost in thought worrying about an upcoming school deadline. Then a thought shook me out of my anxious trance. I thought about how different my life was this time last year. Last year, I felt stuck at a job that I had outgrown. I had been accepted to the UB MBA program, but it felt like a distant concept as I struggled to feel motivated at work before the program began. Suddenly my homework anxiety didn’t seem that bad.
A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined my life as it is now. In a few weeks, I will have completed my first year of the MBA program. I’m so grateful that I decided to embark on this journey. In only a few short months I’ve expanded my knowledge, faced and overcome challenges, made new friends, and transformed as a person.
Here are five of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far in the program.
- Strive for learning not perfection.
I’ve heard this a lot from the professors in the program. It’s easy to agree with this in theory, but I will admit it can be challenging in practice. For all my educational career, I’ve prided myself on being the overachieving straight “A” student. I had to let go of this. Of course, grades still matter, but challenging yourself and learning are far more important to me now. After graduating, I will forget the grades I made. I will, however, use the concepts and skills I learned in my professional life far beyond my time at school.
- Carve out moments that will allow you to celebrate your strengths.
While I enjoy challenging myself, I sometimes become impatient if I don’t think I am progressing quickly enough. I find that it’s important to do an activity that I enjoy and feel effortlessly good at. I like to sing or practice yoga. It feels easy for me now, but there was a time when I was a beginner. It’s a nice reminder that you must begin somewhere and, with time and hard work, you can master any skill.
- Learn to live with the guilt and make peace with it.
Attempting to devote equal time to all my classes, my partner, parents, siblings, and friends is difficult. I find myself feeling guilty all the time. If I’m working on a homework assignment for one class, I feel guilty I’m not spending time on another class. When I’m working on homework, I’m neglecting the people in my life. Then when I’m spending time with those people, I’m guilty that I’m not doing homework. I found that there’s no way to avoid the guilt, so instead I’ve decided to make peace with it.
- Work hard and leave your self-judgement at the door.
I take great satisfaction in knowing that I’ve worked hard and done my best. That’s all you can do. If after all of that I don’t make an A-plus or get the internship I applied for, I know that I did all that was within my power in that situation. Self-judgment won’t achieve a different outcome.
- Lean on your classmates for support (they are going through the same things as you!)
Every time I confide in a classmate about feeling drained after a particularly grueling week or hard exam, I find that at least one classmate, if not multiple classmates, are feeling the same way. This reminds me that I’m not struggling alone. I have classmates going through the same things as me.
These lessons are still a work-in-progress for me, but I appreciate the opportunity for growth. As I close out this first year of the program on a high note, I look forward to whatever the second year will bring.
BIO – Shannon is a second-year MBA student concentrating in marketing and consulting. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, Shannon has over eight years of professional work experience. Her unique background as a musician has taught her to be an adaptable and creative problem-solver and has fine-tuned her collaboration skills and attention to detail. She is the director of marketing and recruitment for the UB Consulting Group, where she hopes to create value for the Buffalo community and the University by further developing the group’s brand awareness and recruiting top-tier MBA talent to the group.