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Aaron Anderson

Drinking from a Fire Hydrant

by Aaron Anderson, MBA 2013 Monday, October 3, 2011

On August 16, 111 business professionals convened upon Grainger Hall.  Incoming students represent 19 states and come from 8 countries. We were welcomed with breakfast and coffee. The atmosphere was full of energy. It was great hearing everyone’s arrival story. As a Madison native I found myself becoming slightly jealous of all the students that were experiencing Madison for the first time. Many were still getting their bearings of campus and hadn’t yet discovered what Madison has to offer. What I wouldn’t give to be discovering Madison’s treasures all over again: beer at the terrace, lunch on State Street, and sailing on Lake Mendota.

After coffee we were shuffled into the Plenary Room to begin our MBA Experience Orientation. From this point forward the experience was on full throttle. The next two weeks were jam packed with networking sessions, team building activities, social outings, career management coaching and introductions to staff and faculty. The highlight for me was the team-building exercises which included blind-folded truck building, trust falls and a silent minesweeper activity. Throughout the week the camaraderie was amazing. Classmates were eager to explore each other’s backgrounds and make personal connections.

By the end of the week everyone was exhausted; as if we had just run a team marathon. Little did we know the race had just begun.

During orientation Joe Ypma, the Graduate Business Association’s (GBA) President, described the first year experience as a marathon, not a sprint. After experiencing two weeks as a first year, I describe the experience as drinking from a fire hydrant. Cherie Leonard, a Nielsen Center 2nd year student, described the first year more artistically. No matter what analogy you draw the experience is intense.

I attended an mock interview today and was asked to “describe a time when you were juggling multiple projects”.

This is a softball question for all first year students. Here is a list of things first year Nielsen Center Students juggled in the first three weeks of school:

  • First day of graduate level classes
  • Readings
  • Integrated Company Analysis group projects
  • Employer information sessions
  • Student organization welcome meetings
  • Second year lunch and learns
  • Field trips
  • Evening outings

We, first year Nielsen Center students quickly came to two important realizations 1) Our salvation lies in Google Calendar. From orientation alone we had four full pages of important events that included interview dates, group work due dates and information sessions. 2) If second year students survived, so can we. The second years have been wonderful stewards throughout the process offering survival tips, encouragement and career advice.

It’s been a wild ride these first couple weeks and I’m sure the semester will have many more ups and downs.