First Year in the books…almost
After four terms of core classes (summer term included) and cases and projects that resided within our ILE (first-year, six-person) teams, we finally entered the elective atmosphere for the final term of the year. So what did that exactly mean…having a schedule fully based on electives? It means:
- We had complete control of our schedule, and the classes we chose to enroll in
- We had the opportunity to work with different teams (classmates)
- If you have interest in pursuing a concentration, you could start working towards that now
As much as I enjoyed the core, I felt a bit of relief when it ended. I felt this relief because I knew that from that point forward, my success and interest level in the classroom (however I chose to define it) entirely depended on me. For example, I would say that I am more of a quantitative person than a qualitative person. Therefore, when I was required to take a core course that was more qualitative (like strategy) I often struggled figuring out how to best apply my strengths to the subject at hand. Knowing that, during the final term of the year I opted to focus my schedule on mostly quantitative classes, trying to play to my strengths, and more importantly, my areas of interest.
While I will spare you the details of lessons learned from every class, here are some final thoughts on my first all-elective term. First, entrepreneurial finance proved to me that business (especially trying to start one) is anything but linear. Every situation is unique, and greatly depends on instincts, common sense, and luck. That’s right…LUCK. Every case we studied presented us with a number of options about how a particular business / company should grow. And in every case the answers could not be any more unclear. As a team, we often based our recommendations on many, many, many assumptions, to a point where I wondering if randomly guessing was the most favorable option. In the process of understanding how uncertain the decisions I make in the future will be, the lessons from the course emerged.
On the other hand, my course in Decision Models taught me how use software tools to assess complex business scenarios and make decisions based of numbers and objectives. We considered goals of the customers / company, assumptions, and best and worst case scenarios. Never before had I been so involved with the world-changing power of Microsoft Excel. And never before had I felt so satisfied when solving complex cases with the tools we were taught in class, tools that will prove very useful in any job that I pursue in the future.
Now for the kicker…
While the official academic calendar year has come to a close, it does not signify the end for some of us first-year students. Class time in Durham is over, but travel time has just begun. I write you from Xi’an, China, where I am part of Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE) course, one of many that run throughout the Fuqua MBA program and the calendar year. China, South Africa to name a few. But there are more on the horizon, and I would say these courses are a “must-do” for all.
International exploration is a core aspect of the Fuqua experience, as the school continues to open satellite campuses across the world. What does that mean for Duke? What does that mean for Fuqua? What does that mean for the business leaders that graduate from the university? These are the questions we hope to gain greater understanding of as we proceed on our journey through China. Stay tuned for more details…