A Day in the Life of a First Year MBA

What does the typical day of an MBA student look like? That’s one of the biggest questions I had as I was preparing to enroll at Fuqua. I had heard snippets from current and past students about what types of activities they were involved in, but I still wasn’t entirely sure how a full day would be. Would I be in a team room most of the day? How much time would be spent networking? What time commitment do classes require?

As I’m preparing to return for my second year at Fuqua, I have a much better understanding of what to expect each day. However, that doesn’t mean that every day is the same – in fact, far from it. The biggest differences I’ve noticed occur from term to term as changes in activities and priorities shift depending on the time of year. For example, in my experience, Fall Term I had a heavier academic focus, and Fall Term II was shifted more to recruiting. Spring Term I allowed me to devote more time to my family and social activities, and Spring Term II was focused on leadership as the mantle for club leadership and Fellow positions shifted from second-year to first-year students. For that reason, I think it’s most helpful to read a variety of “Day in the Life” articles from various students at different times of the year, to better get a sense of what to expect when you arrive.

Here’s what a Tuesday in Spring II looked like for me as a first-year student:

7:15 a.m. – Wake up and get ready for the day. My two-year-old daughter normally gets up around this time too, so I’m able to help get her ready. Like most days, I make breakfast for the family (today is a green smoothie), say goodbye to the wife and kid, and drive to Duke.

8:30 a.m. – I head to the library. I spend the morning responding to emails about group projects and club involvement. I also glance over the case for my Emerging Markets class, to remind myself of the main points of it before class starts. Although I have until Thursday before my other class assignments are due, I also spend this time working on a case for my Decision Models class in preparation for a team meeting later in the day.

10:15 a.m. – Before going to class, I swing by the Admissions lounge to pick up prospective students who are interested in observing a class. First-year students play an important role in the admissions process, by giving campus tours, hosting class visits, serving on Q&A panels, and volunteering at the two Blue Devil Weekends. For prospective students, being able to visit Fuqua and sit in on a live class is an invaluable opportunity to see what an MBA class is like, and determine if Fuqua is the right fit.

10:30 a.m. – Emerging Market Strategy. On Tuesdays and Fridays I only have this class, whereas on Monday and Thursday I have two (Marketing Strategy and Decision Models). In this class session we discuss a case about Vale, a Brazilian diversified metals and mining corporation, and the challenges they recently experienced due to their distance from the Asian market. We also get into a very interesting discussion about the socio-economic trends in China and Brazil, Brazilian politics, and corruption. The class is particularly insightful because it includes a number of students from Brazil. It’s like this for every class. Typically there are multiple students from the country where the case originates — or sometimes even students who know first-hand knowledge about the company — giving additional insights that we might not have considered based on the case materials alone. As an American citizen, I’m definitely in the minority in this class.

12:45 p.m. – I heat some lunch (left-overs from a delicious dinner the night before) and meet up with the other co-president and vice-president of the Latter-day Saint Student Association. All of the club leadership positions are in the process of switching from second-year to first-year students, so this is our kick-off meeting to discuss our goals, plans, budget, and calendar for the upcoming year. Tomorrow we will have a meeting with all of the other club presidents and MBAA cabinet to learn more about our roles in the upcoming year.

2:00 p.m. – Work on Decision Models case. We have our first major case for the class due on Thursday, using decision trees to make a recommendation to a hypothetical client company about whether or not they should sue a competitor or settle out of court. All three of my teammates have prepared beforehand, so we are able to dive right into the analysis stage by weighing the pros and cons of each option and determining where our information might be inaccurate and how that would impact our recommendation. We don’t finish creating the entire PowerPoint presentation, but we assign roles to finish the assignment by our deadline. From here on out, we’ll coordinate through email.

4:30 p.m. – Get home. I’ve made it a goal to be home for dinner, whenever possible. Although there have been some weeks and terms where it’s been much harder to get home for dinner every night, so far the spring has had fewer evening time commitments which means I’m usually home. It’s always nice to walk in the door and hear my daughter shout “Daddy!” as she runs to give me a hug. We spend some time playing together in her room and then the three of us eat the delicious dinner my wife Kelsey prepared. She does an amazing job of holding down the fort, staying active as a co-President of the Fuqua Families club, and supporting me while we’re on this adventure together. After dinner, Kelsey leaves for an event with other friends from Fuqua Partners. I get our daughter ready for bed, do dishes, and clean up.

8:15 p.m. – Call with my Fuqua Buddy. All admitted Fuqua students are assigned a current first-year student as their Fuqua Buddy, who serves as a resource to answer questions and help them make the transition to Duke. With the recent Round 2 admits, I received two buddies to contact, and had set up a phone call with one of them. On the call I answer questions about life as a first-year student and how I made the move across the country last summer.

8:45 p.m. – Homework and preparing for the next day. Even though there are no classes on Wednesdays, it’s often the busiest day of the week, so I try to get as much homework out of the way tonight as possible. I read a few cases and do some practice problems for my classes that are held later in the week. Applications for Admissions Fellows (who help with the admissions process as second-year students  — primarily by conducting interviews) are due in a few days, so I complete that application. I respond to a few emails and call it a night around 1 a.m.

Trevor McKinnon

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Daytime MBA, Class of 2015. Find out more about me...

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How You Know You’ve Become a Second-Year Student

  1. When half of the faces at Fuqua are unfamiliar, it means that a new first-year class has arrived – you’re a Second Year now.
  2. When you can decide how many and which courses to take each term, you are a Second Year. No more 8 am core classes.
  3. When you handle 3 different teams in a term rather than 1 designated C-LEAD (Consequential Leadership) team, you are a Second Year.
  4. When you’ve mastered the ability to construct busy consulting-style slides, read 20-page cases in minutes, and compose concise case write-ups, you are a Second Year.
  5. When you don’t feel the need to attend each and every conference or event because you’ve identified your true passion, you are a Second Year. Moreover, you have become a panelist and organizer instead of an attendee.
  6. When you’ve narrowed down the number of clubs you’re actively involved in from 15 to 5, you are a Second Year. Vague dreams have faded, and a more realistic plan has emerged.
  7. If internship recruiting is like the “first date,” then the second-year job search is like “speed dating,” quickly followed by “marriage.” For Second Years, there is less time for networking since on-campus recruiting wraps up in 2 months. Luckily, you can reconnect with old contacts and build off the relationships you started with recruiters in year 1 to expedite the process.
  8. When you’ve switched from seeking advice to offering advice, you are a Second Year. It is time to give back through informational interviews, resume reviews, casing, and mock interviews with First Years, so that “Team Fuqua” continues.
  9. When you know where every room is located at Fuqua, where your favorite Durham restaurants are, and every store located in Southpoint (the biggest shopping mall in Durham,) you are a Second Year. Bye bye, GPS.
  10. When your classmates are all club co-presidents, Teaching Assistants for multiple courses, or some kind of fellow, you are a Second Year. After all, we all come here to become Leaders of Consequence.
  11. For international students, when you know what the 80’s Party, Halloween Party, and Prom are, you are a Second Year.
  12. When you study abroad, or when a third of your peers are gone for an exchange, you are a Second Year.
  13. When you have time to work out, sleep for more than 7 hours every night, and don’t have to worry (too much) about your GPA anymore, you are a Second Year who has finished recruiting.
  14. When your classmates are no longer new friends, but friends with whom you share a deep bond, you are a Second Year.
  15. When you’ve tried skeet shooting, rock climbing, a half-marathon, and are planning for the next big thing, you are a Second Year.
  16. Asia? Check. Europe? Check. Africa? Check. When you’re figuring out your next grand trip destination, you are a Second Year.
  17. When seeing blossoms in spring makes you sad, you are a Second Year. The blossoms remind you that the count-down to graduation is winding to a close. Sadly, the second year goes very fast, and we will miss the awesome Fuqua experience.
Meiqing Fan

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Daytime MBA, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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On the Waitlist? Be Prepared.

Guest Blogger: Willie Green

Guest Blogger: Willie Green, Daytime MBA Waitlist Manager

It’s that time of the year again. The Daytime MBA Class of 2016 is preparing to arrive on campus, and those of you on the waitlist are patiently waiting for news from our Office of Admissions that we have a spot available for you in this class. We could be admitting students from the waitlist up until the first day of Orientation, which starts July 30, which means you would need to make a decision, submit the $3,000 tuition deposit and transition very quickly! In anticipation of receiving that call, take a few minutes to review my post from last year that contains some helpful tips about what to expect and how to be prepared.

Please continue to be in touch with your waitlist counselor about any updates you may have, and don’t forget to send them to mbawaitlist@fuqua.duke.edu and copy your waitlist counselor.

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Achieving Success Deliberately with the Personal Development Plan

Fuqua is full of opportunities. These two years are a time of growth and development beyond what you’ve ever before experienced, with multiple avenues and roads to take you to new places. However, one of the challenges is having a plan and knowing which path to take. It can be a bit like when Alice met the Cheshire Cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.1

Although meandering aimlessly could result in success, Fuqua stresses the importance of deliberate and conscientious development into leaders of consequence. One core aspect of this deliberate developmental journey is creating a Personal Development Plan (PDP).

The PDP is a roadmap and action-planning process and tool that guides you through personal reflection, goal setting, and finally, sets you on a route to fulfilling your ambitions.
First-year students are introduced to PDP concepts during Global Institute when they take their Leadership, Ethics and Organizations (LEO) class. The class teaches the importance of identifying and effectively setting goals. Then, once core classes begin in September and you are placed in your C-LEAD team (a group of 6 students you work with in all of your core MBA classes), each team works together on the PDP. A COLE Fellow is assigned to each team to mentor and help each student create their own individual PDP plan.

Reflection. The first part of the process is to reflect. Each student thinks about the following key questions:

  • Why am I at Fuqua? What do I want to gain from this experience?
  • Where am I now? What are the values, beliefs, and principles I want to uphold?
  • What are my current strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Where do I want to be and who do I want to become?

Goal Setting. After the critical reflection stage, students write out 3-5 goals, with each goal fitting into one of six categories: Leadership, Academic, Social, Career, Personal, or Physical. For the first iteration of my PDP, my goals revolved around Academic, Career, and Leadership, as those were the priorities I specified for Fall Term 1 in my team’s Charter (a document each C-LEAD team creates to explicitly state team expectations, norms, and guide the way the group operates).

To ensure you meet the definition of an effective goal, the SMART principle is used. That is, each goal must be Specific, Measurable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Goals are added to a PDP online platform, making it easier for each student to track their progress. Additionally, each goal is linked to an Accountability Buddy to help keep students on track—it was up to me to decide how often my buddy would check in on my progress. For example, my wife and three team members were specified as my Accountability Buddies for each of my 4 goals, and I had the opportunity to be an Accountability Buddy for some of my teammates as well. Our COLE fellow also received a copy of all of our goals, to ensure that they were SMART and to provide an additional layer of accountability.

Continual Refinement. The Personal Development Plan is not a static list of goals, but rather a living and changing document. We would regularly discuss our progress toward achieving each goal during meetings with our COLE fellow, and had the formal chance to update our goals at the start of Fall Term 2. As Fall Term 2 began, we also reflected on which goals we accomplished, and which ones we fell short on, learning from our failures as well as our successes. This process then continues with opportunities to update our goals prior to heading out for summer internships, then again during our second year, and finally, before graduating and leaving for full-time employment.

The Personal Development Plan has been a critical part of my Fuqua experience, allowing me to take control of my future and chart the course to achieve my goals . As I began my MBA experience, I wasn’t sure which path I wanted to take, and threw myself into as much as possible. The Personal Development Plan helped me take a step back, prioritize my goals, and deliberately determine which path I would take to get to my desired outcomes.

1  “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll. The Millennium Fulcrum Edition 2.7a © 1991 Duncan Research

Trevor McKinnon

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Daytime MBA, Class of 2015. Find out more about me...

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Fuqua Study Abroad – Lessons from the Farm

Just like 1/3 of the 2014 class, I returned from a term abroad and jumped back into the Fuqua swing of things for Spring 2. Upon coming back to Durham, I was surprised that a new batch of student leaders had already been chosen for next year. So beyond some transition meetings with new cabinet members for the Net Impact and Consulting Clubs, I found myself devoid of extra-curricular responsibilities.

mba student washing dishes

The author helping out with the dishes.

That down-time before graduation gave me the opportunity to reflect on my study abroad experience. I spent four weeks at Pontificia Universidad Católica, in Santiago, Chile, taking courses in Negotiations and Consumer Behavior. Beyond that, I crossed an item off my bucket list and volunteered with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). I worked on a small farm in Curanipe and spent two weeks pulling weeds, living in a tent and gaining some unexpected insights into business in Chile that I believe can be applied to any client engagement.



landscape with trees

Volunteering with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) included taking care of trees on a farm in Curanipe,Chile.

Lesson 1: Pay attention to what your clients want. (i.e. Sometimes no one cares that you have consulting experience)
I wanted to leave my mark on that farm in a way that wouldn’t be covered in weeds a month after I left, so before I arrived, I thought of ways I could help their business succeed. I could assist in developing their presence on TripAdvisor, or I could teach them to keep records using Excel instead of pen and paper. My dream was to get them customers and save them time! As it turns out, they were in the process of selling their business, and they’re not fans of computers, so to make their lives easier I spent most days in the fields weeding. Having a lot of time to think, I realized that when you work for a small business or a large corporation for that matter, you have to pitch in and do the less glamorous work.


Farm owners Bettina and Christian.

Lesson 2: Learn the context.
The farm owners were operating in a rural environment where business was done with people you knew. Being foreigners (an Argentine and a German), they were often shut out of this equation. They also faced a long-term decline in tourists after an 8.8 earthquake hit in 2010 seven miles off the coast. I might have been able to imagine ways their operation could run more smoothly, but I had to consider obstacles that weren’t immediately apparent to a visitor.

Lesson 3: Keep the lines of communication open.
This was tricky in a place where I had no phone service or internet. My sole source of news was my host organization, and both owners acknowledged that they only read “alternative” news sources. As a result, I left after two weeks under the impression that there had been a major earthquake in North Carolina and the economies of several Western nations had collapsed. The lesson in there is to make sure that you get your news from more than one source (or manager), whether you’re farming or managing a project.

With these lessons in hand, I’m ready to transition to life after grad school. I’m very grateful I had the chance to immerse myself in a business in rural Chile. I can’t say I ever expected to spend time on a farm while studying for my MBA, but I’m so glad that I did.

Jen McFann

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From Soldier to Student to Student Leader

Being a Leader of Consequence…in China

mba student

Guest Blogger: Paul Escajadillo

Business school is as much about the journey as it is about the ultimate destination. To that end, over the last 10 months, my classmates and I have all been working hard to balance 4 competing categories of activities: academics, recruiting, social/club events, and our personal lives. The beauty (and frustration during core classes) of Fuqua’s 6-week terms is how little time we have to meet the rigorous demands of all these categories. We all learn (or are forced to learn) disciplined time management and make tradeoffs because overlapping events will inevitably occur. I had to learn what was most important to me: one extra hour of studying, preparing for an interview, or getting ready for “date night” with my wife. As she can attest, I didn’t always pick the right one.

After the summer and two fall terms, we were mostly done with core classes (leaving only Operations in Spring 1), and could focus on pursuing the electives and club leadership opportunities that interested us most while winding down our internship hunts. However, amidst the chaos that was Fall 1, I saw an opportunity for a future role that would best encapsulate why I enrolled in the Fuqua School of Business. Transitioning out of 7 years in the U.S. Army (as an enlisted man, no less), I knew I needed a rigorous foundation for business. I wanted to exit my comfort zone and immerse myself in the necessary elements to effectively implement successful business strategies, which more often than not have become global. The China Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE) seemed like the ideal elective: 6 weeks of classes followed by 2 weeks in the country. Why China? Well, while China’s export and import growth have recently slowed down from their unsustainable double digit increases, it is still the country to study when thinking about global business opportunities. A recent PwC report stated “China is projected to overtake the US as the largest economy by 2017 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms and by 2027 in market exchange rate terms.”

I knew I wanted to learn as much as I could about the country, both from an academic and personal perspective. But I didn’t just want to learn: I wanted to lead. During my time in the Army, I was blessed enough to deploy multiple times and always return safely with those Soldiers under my care. I worked in a variety of positions and deployed to the countries of Ecuador, Colombia, and twice to Afghanistan. I wanted to complement real world leadership experience with the opportunity to travel to a continent I had not visited, while leading my fellow classmates to better understand and explore the business, economy, culture, and politics of a foreign country.

mba students at the Great Wall of China

Paul’s team at the entrance to the Great Wall of China.

So, I applied to be a GATE Team Leader. As one member of a 5-person Team Leader group (Carson Rockett, Camden Yumori, Jessica Dennis, and Ben Markowitz round out the group), I was excited for Spring II to start. Prior to the trip, most of our duties revolved around preparing for the actual class with our professors (Jeannete Song and Dan Vermeer), and enlisting companies to host our 90+ students during our 2-week visit. It was rewarding work to see how family, friends, and strangers came together to help us in our quest. Now, during the actual visit, our jobs have focused on the logistics of moving and maintaining accountability of 90+ students not just to and from different company and cultural visits, but also 4 different cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Shanghai). Looking back, GATE truly represents the best opportunity for student leadership combined with academics.

In order to better tailor the visit I designed a survey for the registered students. My fellow team leaders and I were very pleased to see we had great representation from the major career tracks (consulting, finance, marketing, general management, and healthcare), but were actually surprised to learn that the most requested industry to visit was not electronics or energy, but the Chinese government. While we were unable to comply with this request, we were able to schedule a briefing by the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, along with visits to Lenovo, Tsingua University, Coca-Cola, Changan Ford, New Oriental Education Company, the NBA, Wangjiang Industrial Co., P&G, Bloomberg, SanDisk, Wells Fargo, the Panda Breeding Research Center, GSK, and the Chengdu Airport Authority.

Ultimately, what we each desired to obtain from the trip was incredibly personal, but I think it can best be encapsulated by this anonymous respondent’s quote from our survey: “A better understanding of China and its past, as well as its expected future.”

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The Fuqua Honor Code: Building Leaders of Consequence through Uncompromising Integrity

Judicial Representatives for the Daytime MBA Program, Maria McLemore and Bering Tsang.

Blog Co-Authors and Judicial Representatives for the Daytime MBA Program,
Maria McLemore and Bering Tsang.

Fuqua is one of the most diverse business schools in the world. Students represent different countries and cultures, and have a wide array of professional backgrounds and future goals. As students, they embrace this diversity as a part of the Fuqua brand, Team Fuqua, and focus on what unites them — their desire to be leaders of consequence, both inside the walls of Fuqua and well beyond them. Perhaps the most profound component of Fuqua that enables students to become influential leaders is the Honor Code. The Fuqua Honor Code provides that students will not lie, cheat, or steal in their academic endeavors, that they will conduct themselves honorably in all aspects of their lives, and that they will act if the standard is compromised.

The function of the Honor Code is to instill a common identity and purpose within the Fuqua community, promoting uncompromising integrity as a key value of Team Fuqua and a central component of leaders of consequence. Where the Honor Code guides , the values of Team Fuqua binds; at Fuqua, living in adherence to the Honor Code is not a suggestion, but an expectation. As the first-year class elected Honor Representatives, we both feel strongly that the Honor Code is something that builds our community of trust, strengthens our bonds, and protects all Fuquans. It is not enough for us to “get along” as classmates, it is important that we seek to “get it right.” Often that means holding each other accountable to do the right thing over the convenient thing. And this helps us all become better students, better leaders, and better people.

As judicial reps, we feel compelled to serve the student body in part because our backgrounds have instilled in us the principles of living honorably. We are both alumni of institutions with strong honor codes, and chose pre-Fuqua careers with a focus on integrity — Bering as an officer in the Marine Corps, and Maria as a civil servant. In this new chapter of our lives, as Honor Representatives, we are elected members of the MBA Association (MBAA) and serve our peers by sitting as voting members of the Judicial Board when an honor violation is reviewed. Our classmates also uphold the Honor Code through their actions every day, implicitly using the principles of honor as a cornerstone for character development and ultimately, leadership development. In the end, character is inseparable from leadership.

The Honor Code at Fuqua manifests itself long before the first day of classes. You will pledge that your application is truthful when seeking admission. Once admitted, the incoming class takes a pledge during Orientation. All new students stand up, raise their right hand, and promise to uphold the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability. By pledging their support of the Honor Code, students explicitly promise to protect and promote the culture of integrity we have here at Fuqua, making the school the great place that it is.

In an environment centered around numbers and returns, it is difficult to quantify the effect honor has on life at Fuqua. Honor guides daily life, actions, and conversations; it builds character and shapes future business leaders into leaders of consequence. In addition to the Honor Code, the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics (COLE) and the annual Leadership & Ethics Conference work to promote a culture of integrity. In a short time (perhaps too short a time), Fuqua students leave the Duke community and work to make a positive change in the business world — reducing the corruption and unethical behavior that mires today’s headlines. It is our hope that the foundation they build at Fuqua will help to guide their future decisions. It is imperative that students leave Fuqua as consequential leaders for the improvement of the world.

Fuqua’s Honor Code is strong, and the system has facilitated an atmosphere where students act with individual responsibility. They strive to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. It is our Team Fuqua values, our system, and our honor code. This includes the personal decision to act honorably and to not tolerate the actions of those who choose to violate the conditions of the Honor Code. An important aspect of the Honor Code is that all students are expected to report violations by their peers. When a suspected violation occurs, the judicial process sees that the accused are afforded certain rights because the consequences can be grave — from failing the class to expulsion from Fuqua. This is a profound responsibility, but one that is not taken lightly by Fuqua students. Faculty and staff also understand the spirit of the Honor Code, and serve as exemplars to students. It is the gravity with which everyone — students, faculty, and staff — approach the idea of ethical and honorable conduct that we are able to hold each other accountable for shortcomings.

We believe in the purpose and existence of the Honor Code because it makes us, our community, and the organizations we lead better. When students arrive at Duke they aren’t handed the Duke MBA; they earn it through hard work and success in the classroom. They also aren’t handed the title, Leader of Consequence — they earn it by living with integrity and character.

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Putting the Network to Work

Recruiting season is here! For first-year students, the last 10+ weeks have been a flurry of networking, cover letter revisions, and resume tweaks in preparation for summer internships “drops.” Second-year students have been a huge help by sharing their experiences, providing mock interviews, and giving tough but honest feedback. Keep in mind that all of this has occurred on top of an already demanding schedule of classes and extracurricular activities.

Going through this process for the first time, I’m still impressed by the number and variety of companies that recruit on campus at Fuqua. Positions range from the classic MBA jobs like consulting and banking to more niche positions in social impact. Check out the full list of companies here! But in spite of the abundance of options, sometimes your dream company doesn’t recruit on campus.

The off-campus recruiting process is difficult, unstructured and rather daunting. Luckily, the Fuqua Career Management Center (CMC) does an excellent job preparing us for off-campus recruiting during our first two terms. The CMC teaches first-year students the most effective ways to find and approach alumni and turn contacts into advocates at our target companies.

I’m doing on-campus recruiting, but there are off-campus opportunities that I’m also pursuing. It isn’t easy, but this process has proved something important: network matters. I love the Fuqua network – we’re everywhere! When I search for alumni on LinkedIn, there are almost always Fuqua alums working at my target companies. Many are willing to share their experiences and insights and put me in contact with others in the organization. During this process I’ve been able to speak with alumni at cool tech companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Square, and Facebook as well as traditional CPG companies like Procter & Gamble and Clorox. The access to companies I’ve gained through the Fuqua network is incredible!

For many students, the off-campus search may also involve a self-organized Week-In-Cities-style visit to alumni at specific companies. These visits are great chance to get a feel for the company culture while showing dedication and excitement for the summer internship.

The recruiting process is quickly winding down. The first students with summer internship offers are the investment bankers and consultants. CPG is next followed by technology, start-ups, and other sectors whose recruiting timelines continue into the spring. I’m taking a fairly broad approach to recruiting, and targeting technology or CPG companies in both marketing and finance roles. Stay tuned for a future post to see how it all turns out!

James Megivern

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Coffee Chats in Latin America – A “Must” in Your Application Process

Prospective students and current MBA students at a Coffee Chat in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Prospective students and current MBA students at a Coffee Chat in Montevideo, Uruguay.

During January and February, Fuqua students hosted coffee chats throughout cities in Latin America, including Montevideo (Uruguay), Lima (Peru), Santiago (Chile), Mexico City (Mexico), and Buenos Aires (Argentina).

The events were organized and led by current students while visiting families and friends in their home countries during Winter Break. Coffee chats are a great resource for applicants to have a first-hand testimony about all aspects of the MBA experience at Fuqua. Usually there is one event per city each year (December-January). In about two hours, a couple of Fuqua students talk to around 10-15 prospects. Everyone interested in knowing more about Fuqua is invited!

MBA students and prospects

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The purpose of a coffee chat is to provide an opportunity for prospective students to ask questions in a laid-back atmosphere. Francisco Jimenez, a second-year student who led the event in Santiago says: “It was a great event! We had more than 15 applicants and were able to answer more personal questions about everyday student life. You could feel prospective students had the chance to ask all those questions that they probably weren’t daring to do in a formal info session.”

MBA students and prospects

Mexico City, Mexico

This year there were more Latin America coffee chats than any previous year. Even more remarkable, it was an initiative that came from the students; demonstrating the commitment and enthusiasm of our community to continue developing our network abroad, while reinforcing Fuqua’s vision to be a student-led school.

Yonathan Lapchik, Admissions Cabinet Member of the Latin American Student Association (LASA) explains: “We received only good feedback about coffee chats in Latin America. Prospective students found it a very useful step in their application process. Our idea is to continue developing these kinds of events in the future and establish them as another resource for applicants in their pathway to Fuqua.”

Next year’s events will be posted on Fuqua’s webpage in December 2014. We hope to see you there!

Joaquin Brahm

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If you like ___________, you’ll love Durham!

As a second year with only two months left in Durham (after returning from studying abroad in Singapore), I realize that there are quite a few things about this city that I’m going to miss when I move to Pennsylvania after graduation. Now, if someone would have asked me 2 years ago when I was a prospective student “Why do you want to go to Fuqua?”, living in Durham wouldn’t have been one of my reasons. While it definitely isn’t NYC or Chicago, it’s not trying to be, and that’s what I love about it. Durham (and North Carolina in general) has a culture and a pace all its own, and here are 10 examples of why I’m so glad I chose to live in this part of the country for grad school:

Entertainment                    Good Food and Drink                  Action                         Sports

Housing Options                Museums                                   Friends                       Relaxing

Shopping                           Travel


Whether you’re interested in Broadway shows, concerts, or comedy, Durham has something for you. Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has the best shows Broadway has to offer, and there’s even a student discount! The Carolina Theater is also home to comedy shows and musical acts and is located in the heart of downtown. My classmates and I have had a ton of fun seeing Bon Jovi and Macklemore at PNC Arena in Raleigh, which is where all of the major touring acts go when they’re in town. It is also home to the Carolina Hurricanes, our local NHL team, and an annual rodeo. During the spring, summer, and fall, one of my favorite venues is the Booth Amphitheater in Cary. Coordinating a bus to take you there for a concert should be on every Fuqua student’s bucket list.

Good Food and Drink:

Durham is abuzz with the “farm-to-table” and small plates craze, so you won’t miss out on the culinary trends that are sweeping across the country while studying at Fuqua. Local restaurants like Mateo’s, Piedmont, and Bull City Burger bring excitement to Durham’s culinary scene and offer a great place to unwind after completing a week of projects and midterms. If you’re looking for more classic dishes and a casual atmosphere, my favorite places are Dain’s Place and Elmo’s Diner on 9th Street, along with Alivia’s Bistro right on Main Street.

A great microbrewery scene in Durham is something I didn’t anticipate before starting at Fuqua. Triangle Brewery, Fullsteam (started by a Fuqua alumnus!), Red Oak, and Foothills are all beers brewed within an hour of Durham and are offered at most restaurants around town.


If you’re a fan of outdoor activities, whether running, golfing, hiking, biking, or team sports like soccer, there are plenty of opportunities around Durham. The American Tobacco Trail, Duke Forest, and Washington Duke Trail give runners and walkers alike green space to decompress after a long night of studying, and with plenty of road races around the area like the Tar Heel 10-miler, Bull City Classic, and Raleigh Rock n’ Roll Marathon, there’s always a reason to get in shape.

Business school is the perfect time to perfect (or start working on) your golf swing, and Durham offers courses ranging from beginner to expert, all within minutes from campus, which is something you wouldn’t be able to find near a big city school. Our golf club hosts several events each year at the Washington Duke and Hillandale courses, and my friends and I have played at The Crossings and even UNC’s Finley course.

As for hiking, there are several state parks around the area, and the Smoky Mountain foothills in Asheville are only a 3-hour drive. Eno River is a quick day trip on a fall afternoon and high atop my bucket list is William B. Umstead Park, next to the airport.

For students and partners that are more into team or individual sports like soccer (or fútbol), softball, football, basketball, and badminton, the Duke Rec Center always has intermural leagues taking place. I was on a softball team last year and it was a great way to meet more of my classmates, spend some time outside, and use the glove I’ve had since 1st grade! Fuqua teams always do well in these leagues, and our basketball team just traveled to Harvard and took 2nd place in their business school tournament.


From college, to amateur, to professional, the Durham area has opportunities for sports fans to take in their fair share of sports games. All Duke sporting events are free with your Duke ID, so if the past two years have been any indication, coming to Fuqua means that you’ll have a front-row seat to one of the ACC’s finest football, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball teams. If those sports don’t keep you busy, you can always catch the beginning or end of the Durham Bulls’ season in their newly renovated stadium. There are student discounts, but buy your tickets early unless you enjoy sitting on the steep grassy hill in the outfield (I’m speaking from experience here).

For those of you interested in watching highly paid individuals play sports, you can do that in Raleigh and Charlotte, which is only a 2-hour drive. Raleigh is home to the Carolina Hurricanes, our NHL team, and Charlotte boasts the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA. Charlotte is also home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and has a race or two each season, which is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss while living in the south.

Housing Options:

Some business schools have students live in dorms on campus and some allow prospective students to find their own housing with minimal assistance. Fuqua is great because there are five main apartment complexes all within a 10-minute drive to school that house the majority of our class. While some students with families opt for living in houses off-campus, one of the four complexes (Station Nine, Trinity Commons, West Village, Lofts at Lakeview, and Alden Place) usually has the right mix of features for most students. I have enjoyed knowing where most of my friends live and I like the fact that since most people are near each other, it is easy to arrange team meetings, group dinners, or parties. Not to mention, the convenience of being able to drive from place to place beats waiting around for public transportation, especially in the winter!


I’ve never been the biggest fashionista on the planet, but I do know that Durham is a good place to be if you somehow have some spare funds leftover from your previous job or summer internship. Every store you could possibly need from Nordstrom to Crate & Barrel to the Cheesecake Factory is available at The Streets at Southpoint, a 15-minute drive from campus.

If you’re more creative and more hip than me, you’d definitely be interested in the boutique shops around Durham and Chapel Hill. It seems like there are more popping up each day, so I can’t keep track of them, but some of my personal favorites are Magpie Boutique, STeP, and vert & vogue, all of which are near East Campus or right downtown. It’s customary for our Luxury Brand and Retail Club to have an open house at one of these boutiques where Fuqua students can browse at our own pace and even have a glass of champagne, so make sure to watch out for that event on our internal website, Campus Groups!


Whenever I get to be too stressed with school, extracurricular activities, or recruiting, Durham and Raleigh offer several escapes in the form of wonderful museums where I can get lost in beautiful works of art, whether it is contemporary, traditional, or a mix of both.

The closest option for all of us is the Nasher Museum of Art located on Duke’s campus. It is free for students and always has interesting special exhibitions (and its café is delicious!). If you have more time, the North Carolina Museum of Art is located in downtown Raleigh. General admission is free (with some exhibits requiring paid admission) and is host to renowned permanent collections. If you’re a science buff when you’re not being a business school student, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh and the Museum of Life and Science in Durham are also great options for a few hours away from finance and operations assignments. They also have adult-only events every month or so, which gives Fuqua students an even bigger excuse to visit. Not interested in art or science? Check out this website to see all of the great museums Fuqua students have at our fingertips.


One of my favorite things about business school is the fact that we get quite a few breaks throughout the year. Fall break, winter break, spring break, you name it, we get a week or two or three, off – it’s great! And Durham is a perfect place to have all of those breaks because you there are so many trips you can take for a week or even just for a long weekend. Charleston, Savannah, Asheville, Washington DC, Virginia Beach, and the Outer Banks are only six options that are located less than five hours away. Not to mention, Raleigh-Durham International Airport has direct flights to just about everywhere, which makes traveling for interviews or for pleasure all the more enjoyable. I’ve been able to fly to Nashville, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland nonstop – there’s even a direct flight to London!


My friend group is my favorite thing about being in Durham. Because we’re not in a large city, everyone is centrally located within a 15-mile radius.We also didn’t come to Fuqua with plenty of local friends in the area, which means we get to build relationships with each other. I have met a vast array of friends during my time at Fuqua, including close friends from Boston, D.C., L.A., Chapel Hill, Tucson, Monterrey, South Korea, Shanghai, and Istanbul. This diversity is definitely not what I expected prior to b-school because I thought it would be like college where all of my friends had very similar backgrounds as me.

We host dinner parties together, go on group runs, try new restaurants and see movies – there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful to have so many great friends, but also the ability to learn about other cultures and even have a place to stay when I’m traveling overseas. Of everything I’ll miss after graduation and even while I’m studying abroad, not seeing all of the friendly faces in the hall every day will be the hardest with which to come to terms.


Durham is also a great place to be if you just want some “me” time or want to get away from the chaos that lends itself to the business school lifestyle. The Retreat at Brightleaf is a popular day spa in downtown Durham along with Bella Trio. For students that choose yoga as their primary form of relaxation, there is no shortage of studios, plus you can even take free classes at the Wilson Rec Center or Brodie Gym on campus! The Durham Yoga Company, Blue Point Yoga Center, and Bikram Yoga Durham all have a large class selection from which to choose that fits into any MBA student’s schedule.

Sarah Feagles

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Daytime MBA, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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