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Lessons learned - the end of year 1

With the end of the year basically here, I wanted to share some reflections about my first year here at Carlson: specifically, what would I have done differently?

1. Bought more winter gear
A few more hats, a few more gloves, a fleece - it wouldn't have hurt.

2. Took better care of my health
You've heard about the freshman-15? Far more dangerous is the graduate-school-20. This didn't happen to all of us, but I can personally say a lot of my old clothing doesn't seem to quite fit anymore. In fact, I had to go clothes shopping today and it was a depressing experience. It's very hard to keep in shape during school. Between the 12-hour days, the odd schedules, and the cold weather, I neither exercised enough nor took care of my diet. I definitely should have focused more and been more disciplined. But hopefully I can be a bit healthier during the summer and turn things around.

3. Been more pro-active
Don't like that class? Say something. Don't like how Carlson structures the core schedule? Say something. The administration here is really responsive to our concerns and strongly respects student governance. The class of 2014 was able to help make some changes to Carlson's global program and their interactions with first years. My class has been influential in the structure of the ambassador program and will try to build on what the outgoing class created. Either way, it's impressive how the administration listens to our comments and tries to work with us to improve the program.

4. Practiced ping-pong before school starts
Ping-pong is a big deal here at Carlson. There's one ping-pong table in the MBA-lounge and it's a big source of entertainment. The picture below shows the Joel Waldfogel Invitational, a ping-pong tournament sponsored by our economics professor.

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The crowd.

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William Li and Aks Zaheer, our statistics and strategy professor, respectively.

5. Let it go
I tried to do everything: I tried to be superb academically, to be friends with everyone in the class, to impress all of my professors, and to get a dozen internship offers.

That was dumb.

That was dumb because ultimately an MBA program is about choices. You can't do everything. There is always a sacrifice. And if I had been able to prioritize what was important to me, and to let other things go, I would have had a much more productive and healthier first-year. Surprisingly, letting things go is somewhat hard; a lot of us came into this program as fairly high-achievers, have type-A personalities, and are not used to defeat. And some people really do manage to do well in nearly everything.

But when I realized that I don't need to read every class reading, and that recruiters don't really care about my GPA (though its very different for consulting and finance), life got a lot better. Instead of trying to cram every reading, I was able to focus on the things that were important to my life and career: expanding my network, being involved with extracurricular projects, and exploring Minneapolis. And so even though 2nd semester was still incredibly busy, I felt more grounded and much happier.

6. Have a fantastic summer
This really isn't a regret, but rather just a reminder for me in the next few months. Minneapolis apparently has pretty good summers. I can't wait.

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