Peter WierengaOur Center Director (Kristin Branch) has described the A.C. Nielsen Center as a family and I think that description accurately captures what we, the Class 2016, have experienced over the past two years. There is little choice but to get to know each other quickly as we went through a packed orientation, rapid interview prep, and two overnight trips (P&G and General Mills) together during our first semester of the program. We quickly discovered that the best way to face the more than occasional franticness of the MBA program was to rely on each other. From the simple questions like "Where are we supposed to be going right now?" and "When is this assignment due?" to more complicated questions like "How do I record accounts receivable?" and  "What is the net present value of a perpetuity?", we leaned on each other's strengths.

What impressed me most that semester and throughout these two years was the true desire that we had for each other's success. While interviewing for the same jobs and working for grades that were curved could have led to escalated competition, that did not occur. There was certainly a desire for personal excellence but also a desire to help each other do as well as we could.

Beyond helping each other with school, we genuinely enjoyed each other's company which made these past two years more enjoyable and fun than I could have possibly imagined. While I expected an outstanding learning experience, the dinners, hangouts at the terrace, and games of Settlers of Catan have provided memories and bonds that will last a lifetime. For example, we stayed in touch with each other throughout the summer in a group message so we could check in and encourage each other in our internships. When we got back, we all met for dinner to reconnect. These experiences just begin to capture the bonds we have developed during this program.

While we are disappointed to leave the program, we are all excited to head out on to our next adventure! This program has taken nine people from a wide range of professional backgrounds and has turned us all into "Nielsenites" who are fully prepared to be future leaders in the marketing research industry!GatesFoundationTrip