During the recent orientation for full-time MBA students, six recent NC State Jenkins MBA alumni joined the class of 2018 to share tidbits of wisdom. Panelists included Tyler Bassett, Will Bernholz, Scott Bolin, Gizem Cetgin, Darshana Paithankar and Marko Zivkovic.
Doug Mayes, Associate Director of the Graduate Career Center, introduced the panel saying the panelists had free reign to be honest, transparent and speak their minds.
“We don’t manage messages here,” said Mayes.
The alumni answered questions about their experiences, current careers and dished out some slightly-solicited advice. Recurring themes included the benefits of networking, importance of not overwhelming yourself, and of keeping an open mind.
Tyler’s advice centered around the MBA experience as a whole, as he encouraged students to get involved in all aspects of the community.
“Don’t be afraid to get to know your professors,” said Tyler. “Get engaged with their research, companies they’ve worked with,” which he emphasized is a good way to network, and to take your learning beyond the classroom.
When asked what surprised them the most about their MBA experience, our alumni offered varying thoughts.
Will, if he could re-do his MBA, would keep an open mind about people, and told our first-years to “cherish and foster those relationships.”
Scott expanded on Will’s experience, emphasizing that unexpected connections can sometimes be the most fulfilling.
While the Jenkins MBA has plenty of concentrations, our panel cautioned the class of 2018 from biting off more than they can chew, urging them to focus on the overall MBA experience over specialities like finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, etc.
Key takeaway from each panelist:
Tyler, on the MBA experience as a whole: “Your second year you realize it’s about the material, not your grades. Experience the program. Get involved with projects. Develop relationships with your peers.”
Will, on group work and stress: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. At the end of the day, you’re gonna get through it.”
Scott, on leadership: “In the startup world [an MBA] can be a double-edged sword. Execution is everything and that’s where leadership comes into play.”
Gizem, on leadership: “If there’s an opportunity [to show your skills and leadership], definitely take it.”
Darshana, on group work: “It’s about being patient. Give each other some time to settle down and build those team dynamics. Sometimes it’s okay to take a step back.”
Marko, on developing community outside of the classroom: “Hang out with each other here as a group. Go to a happy hour.”