First Semester at the WSB: A First-Year Perspective
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By Cassandra Nissi
My first semester as a MBA in the Center for Brand & Product Management at the Wisconsin School of Business has been a whirlwind. It doesn’t seem that long ago that my fellow first-years and I were tackling our first team assignment, with little else on our plates at the time. Now, as I’m writing this, I’m looking at my calendar and realizing that the main thing that everyone told me back when I was naïve – that the first semester is full-on – is really coming to fruition. I’m sure that the close of the semester won’t hit me until I’ve woken up from a long nap on my parents’ couch back home in Massachusetts.
Once I’ve recuperated a bit, I’ll be visiting with friends and family over the holidays. I’m already prepared to answer the question, “What’s been the best thing about the Wisconsin School of Business so far?” And the answer, for me, will be easy. It’s been the people. Having graduated from Pennsylvania State University not too long ago in 2014, I was originally concerned about being one of the youngest students in my class. I also didn’t know what to expect in terms of MBAs from different specializations spending time together both inside and outside of Grainger. My class has gone above and beyond in putting those concerns to rest quickly. Starting with the MBA Experience, I was blown away by how friendly and willing to engage everyone was. The second years were just as welcoming and I think my entire class is grateful to them for all the feedback they gave on their experiences last year to make ours even better. Mark Matosian and Blair Sanford did an incredible job in organizing an orientation that allowed us to get to know our fellow classmates and start bonding as a group. I was also proud of my classmates during that week. At sessions and lunches, we all sat with different people each time – there were no cliques to be found.
This camaraderie among our class has continued throughout the semester. We message with each other almost every day. We wish each other happy birthdays, send each other last minute reminders before exams and celebrate each other’s achievements. It’s not uncommon for someone to throw out an invite to the whole class to go see a band play or for some other get-together.
For me, this has really been the cherry on top of a great experience at WSB so far. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the CBPM because the opportunities we’re afforded are really second to none. With all the experiences we’ve had (info sessions, applied learnings, overnight trips, etc.), I’ve come to know my fellow CBPM classmates especially well. That’s why I think it’s such a testament to our class that I feel just as close to several of my classmates outside of CBPM.
I think some of the best highlights of the semester have been a result of the strong sense of community within our class. Class discussions (especially in Jan Heide’s Marketing Management course!) have been one of my favorite parts of the semester. Other highlights included GBA Tailgates, International Student Night and the GBA Halloween party. Of course, the biggest challenge has been time management – juggling class, internship search, student organization activities and social events is no joke. I would be lying if I said there haven’t been stressful times. My classmates and I are all on this amazing journey together, though. We help each other through the stressful times and celebrate with each other when we succeed. I’m looking forward to an even better second semester!