Why Fuqua? A Second Year’s Perspective

There’s something about fall that has put me in a position to be nostalgic. Maybe it’s just this fall.

Graduation seems to be looming more closely every day, and with it, the trepidation of going into a financial services industry that is fraught with uncertainty and controversy. Despite all the promise that comes with being a Fuqua alum, sometimes, perhaps, it’s more pleasant to look backward than forward.

So, in the midst of interviews and Term 1 crunch time, I found myself reflecting on why it was I came to Fuqua in the first place. I already had a pretty good job BF (Before Fuqua), but as far as I was concerned, I may have been due for a career that fit me better. Though, at the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what that entailed. I like to believe I have a passion for learning, too, and in the rigorous professional world, sometimes it’s hard to fit that into an already crowded schedule. Additionally, I always regretted that my job, as much as I liked it, wasn’t fundamentally dependent on teamwork. It was part of the job, sure, but, when the going got tough, the tough often had to go to their cubes and plug away. I felt I probably wasn’t alone in that respect. The modern world, in all respects, has begun to focus on specialization: the best man for the job. Each person finds his niche and runs with it. It is precise and efficient, and it is easiest on the bottom line.

As I said, I had to transition from having a good job to having the right job for me.

But defining that has been something of a challenge. Am I any better equipped to make such a decision because I chose to attend Fuqua? Would this choice afford me the type of clarity that I lacked before coming here? It’s unfortunate that at this ripe young age, I have to make such a conclusive choice about my occupation for the next 40 years. It is often said, in a placating manner, that [your age] is the new [the age you act]. I think that in 2011, MBA is the new Undergrad. We’ve benefitted from having a few extra years to make a long-term career choice, but haven’t necessarily developed the wherewithal to do so. So we have to rely on the lessons of two years in business school; in this way, I found Fuqua to be extraordinarily helpful. We have an exceptionally diverse class, and with that, there are classmates from any number of different professions. Indirectly, you get exposure to virtually every discipline from asset management to zoology. It’s become easier to make a career choice, or at the very least, I’m informed about far more options than I would have been had I attended a different school.

As far as learning is concerned, I’ve definitely gotten my fair share of that, too. I decided early on that despite hoping for a career in finance, I had enough of a background in that field that I voted against having a finance concentration. I’ve gotten a chance to take courses with seemingly little relevance to my future or past career, and it’s been more enriching than I had imagined. Maybe I just appreciate education more now than I did when I was 21, but every class I’ve had seems to have at the least stimulated my mind. I think it’s the rigorous discussions, and probably the diligent selection of readings by the professors. Again, it goes back to having individuals with different backgrounds, each enlisted in an effort to build skill sets, if only in pursuit of their own gratification.

But Fuqua has been most satisfactory for me by facilitating teamwork.

It’s the crux of all of our classes. I haven’t taken a single class yet, or been involved in any extra-curricular activity that hasn’t demanded working with classmates. It’s been the most rewarding part of business school to date, and to be sure, given the different backgrounds and working styles of our classmates, also the most challenging. My hope is that it’s also the most enduring.

In thinking about what the real function of an MBA is, I realized that it’s about transitioning: from being someone who functions, to being someone who leads through complex situations. It’s no accident that all of our speakers rivet their audiences not with tales of a golden trade or successful ad campaign, but with stories of tribulation, of pulling through when the odds seemed insurmountable. At some point in my career, if I’m lucky, I’ll be leading a team, probably a team of quite different people, through a puzzling situation. And if I’m lucky to be as nostalgic then as I am now, I’ll have my experience at Fuqua to draw from.

Mike Ferguson

More posts from Mike Ferguson

Daytime MBA, Class of 2012. Find out more about me...

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18 Responses to Why Fuqua? A Second Year’s Perspective

  1. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others such as you helped me.

  2. Michael Ferguson says:

    Garmin,

    Glad you liked this blog, we have a pretty good group of contributors who have some interesting perspectives on life at Fuqua. If you want to talk to someone more directly, feel free to e-mail askastudent@fuqua.duke.edu. They can put you in touch.

    Thanks,
    Mike Ferguson

  3. Danny Chen says:

    Thanks for the sharing, Mike! I’m coming with the similar feeling somehow as yours. Sometimes, it’s really hard to describe where we really wanna go when we consider about B schools application. But there should be a voice coming from our heart deeply, which always lead us to move forward.

    BTW, I’m preparing my Fuqua application, hopefully I can make it. Good luck to you.

    Danny @ Beijing

  4. Michael Ferguson says:

    Danny,

    Glad to hear you’re applying to Fuqua. I couldn’t have picked a better school for my purposes, but, of course, business school is a huge decision and picking the right one is an absolute imperative. If you’re dedicated enough, you’ll find a place that works for you, and then you’ll be in the best position to make the most out of it.

    I encourage you to keep reading this blog to get more of a feel for what Fuqua is all about. I think it’s very unique among business schools, and we have a pretty diverse group of writers who can speak to that.

    Best of luck,
    Mike Ferguson

  5. Sandro says:

    Mike,
    Thanks for sharing your perspective about why Fuqua.
    I have one question: if you have demonstrated the potential to lead through complex situations, how can you effectively contribute to Fuqua during two year’s MBA life here?

    Thanks,
    Sandro

    • Michael Ferguson says:

      Sandro,

      I feel there are a lot of outlets for leadership at Fuqua. First, most of the academic work is done in team settings; because everyone is so busy at all times, each team requires a fair amount of leadership, and it has to come from different people. Additionally, there are a number of clubs at Fuqua focusing on academic, career, and recreational topics, and each of those faces unique challenges. They are also led exclusively by students.

      Hope this helps, and thanks for reading.
      Mike

  6. Asma Khan says:

    Truly inspiring blog post! I am in the same boat of trying to transition from the good job to the right job for me. Finally decided to take the plunge and apply for an MBA. Fuqua seems like a great way to do it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Asma

    • Michael Ferguson says:

      Asma,

      Very glad you appreciated it. Now that I’ve graduated, I feel even more assured that going to Fuqua was the right choice for me. I know getting an MBA isn’t for everyone, but I’m certainly glad I did it and don’t have any regrets about taking time off to do it.

      Best of luck in the application process, it seems like you have plenty of enthusiasm, and, wherever you choose to go, that’ll go a long way to making it the best experience for you.
      Mike

  7. Mike says:

    Your perspective about teamwork is profound because the amount of success you have in life is directly related to the amount of contacts, associates and business friends you find in your Rolodex (old school I know) :-).

  8. Michael Ferguson says:

    Mike,

    You’re absolutely right. Professional life, and life in general, ends up being as much about who you know as it is about what you know. I’ve come to find that Fuqua alums are particularly good people to know, because they have a lot of pride in their school and feel a connection on that basis. Now that I’ve started my job, I’ll have to see how much of this carries over into the workplace, but I suspect much of it will.

    And, for the record, I actually still have a rolodex.

  9. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

  10. Hello there, simply became aware of your blog via Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out from brussels. I’ll appreciate should you continue this in future. Numerous other people will probably be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

    • Michael Ferguson says:

      Johnson,

      I’m glad we’re showing up in google. Also, i’m glad to hear that you find this blog to be informative, as that’s the goal for us. It’s important for us to be able to relay our individual experiences in a way that depicts a very accurate and full story of what two years at Fuqua would be like.

      Thanks for reading,
      Mike

  11. Very nice article. Great site.

  12. Leia says:

    Goede website. Ik heb je 5 minuten geleden een mailtje gestuurd, kan je die beantwoorden?

  13. Skutery says:

    Very interesting, thanks for the post

  14. Nikki says:

    HI Mike

    Nice to meet you
    I am applying 2013 fall daytime program too
    now in a stage of developing my knowledge of the school
    your post is very helpful and insightful
    I really want to find someone to talk more about Fuqua
    any idea who I can talk to?the ambassadors?
    thank you!

    Nikki from China

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