As the first true summer since my undergraduate degree was coming to an end, it was time to get back into the classroom. I began thinking about buying textbooks and supplies, moving across the country, and completing some prerequisite assignments. But before the school year would officially start, the entire 2019 MBA class of 104 students was about to embark on the MBA Experience; a 10-day comprehensive orientation. I don’t think any of us knew exactly what was in store for us.
Beginning two weeks before our first class, the MBA Experience provided students a chance to meet and interact with their peers, learn more about the Wisconsin School of Business, and become familiar with expectations for the upcoming school year. Leading us throughout the entire process was Mark Matosian, Director of MBA Student Services. On our first day we were introduced to the entire MBA faculty and heard from Blair Sanford, Assistant Dean of the Full-Time MBA program, and Anne Massey, the new Business School Dean. Later, we were introduced to our “core teams” with whom we will work on group projects for the first semester. One of the most entertaining activities of the first week was an improvisation session with Monkey Business Institute, a local comedy improvisation group. We discussed the importance of improvisation in the business world and how we could apply it. We performed skits with some of our peers to again help us get more comfortable with each other. At the end of the first week the MBA class met separately with their specialization groups. We talked with our faculty directors and discussed scheduling. The Real Estate Specialization then went on a tour of Madison viewing various developments. The tour culminated with a look at a development project currently in construction on Capitol Square.
The beginning of the second week focused on working in teams and professional development. We started our Leading and Working in Teams course that runs throughout the first half of the semester and identified team characteristics at both the individual and group level that lead to success. Students also participated in an ice cream social with ice cream from Babcock Dairy, a UW-Madison favorite. To compete the final week, the MBA program got more familiar with Madison by participating in a variety of community outreach activities. Officially named “MBAs With a Heart”, the class was split into smaller groups which volunteered at different organizations around the Madison area. My group went to the Dane Arts Mural Arts center whose purpose is to engage community members throughout Madison in the mural making process. We helped the organization get ready for multiple youth events coming up on their schedule.
Although the MBA Experience Orientation was a whirlwind and, at times, exhausting, I think the entire class appreciated it. A lot of the friendships formed will last well beyond the MBA program. We all came out of it with a better understanding of the UW-Madison Community and were finally ready for classes in our two-year program to officially begin.