My Bucket List

At some point in the last week, it dawned on me that we’re rapidly approaching the end of our first year. Yes, it was a whole 8 months ago: in some ways, that feels like it might have been a century ago, but it’s also hard to believe that it’s transpired so quickly. I’m not sure if the upbeat “growth” or more pessimistic synonym “aging” is more appropriate to describe the time that’s elapsed, but at any rate, I’m starting to realize that I’m not going to be here forever.

I’ll confess that during the past 7 months, I’ve been so busy that I’ve been less than committed to doing all the things the second years told me I should. The demands on my time are always dwarfed by my stubbornness, so in a way, I’ve lost out, and been unable to leverage the knowledge of my predecessors, but it’s put me in the unique position of having to make my own list. So, without further ado, here’s what I still have to do before leaving Durham in 13.5 months:

  1. Attend Campout – thinking that years of sitting in air conditioned offices had distanced me from my primal self, I skipped it this year. Aside from being left out in the cold (literally) when it came time to attend basketball games, I seem to have missed out on lifelong stories, and a good excuse to get little accomplished for a few days.
  2. Take Dan Ariely’s class – what does he teach again? Behavioral economics or something? Does it matter? I’ve read the books (without being directed by a syllabus), and if the lecture is any approximation, I feel I’ll come out smarter and more introspective than I went in. Or, at least, less rational.
  3. Figure out why everyone hates Duke – after our season ending loss to Arizona, the vitriol that was unleashed on the sports journalism reading community was matched only by the vicious insults that cropped up on my Facebook page. And I’m not even that big a fan. Why the bitterness? I’ll figure out what we did to deserve this, and probably, continue doing it. Go Devils!
  4. Pull an all-nighter – I have to confess: in all my years of higher education, I’ve never once stayed up all night studying. I need my sleep. I always have been able to rationalize that my ensuing crankiness or lack of attentiveness would make it a poor choice, and that by being proactive, I shouldn’t have to do an all-nighter. But, maybe this is one of those things I just need to do so I can sympathize when other people discuss it. Or so I can acclimate to the world of finance.
  5. Take a class outside Fuqua – I think as the weather improves and people start sauntering about campus a little bit more, we’ll come to be reminded that our existence is really confined to a very compact bubble. I intend to pop that bubble, if only to mix up my course schedule a little bit. And to see what it is that the people in the policy school really say about us.
  6. Go to the Duke-UNC game – I realize this is made difficult by my failure to attend Campout, but all the same, this year’s game (the home version) was an instant classic, and no number of wings at Satisfaction’s could replicate the feeling of being there, in the flesh. With both UNC and Duke poised for stellar seasons in 2011-12, I think I may start camping out now.
  7. Go to Asheville – I honestly couldn’t point out Asheville on a map, nor do I really know what goes on there. But the pastiche of details I’ve heard from people who have been there sounds something like “beer, wine, minor league baseball, and mountain bikes.” Not a bad weekend, all in all.
  8. Do a study on whether the term “room temperature” is actually applicable at Duke – seriously, I intend to collect empirical data and figure out whether a group of students would be best off hiring a Sherpa to follow them around with all the extra layers of clothing they need in the seminar rooms.
  9. Ask the best SIP circle question ever – During recruiting season, I struggled with finding a balance when chatting “casually” with prospective employers (as if such a thing is possible). You always want to sound well informed, but not creepy; inquisitive, but not annoying; confident, but cognizant of the fact that you’re just a student. So, we resort to superficial questions about culture and future plans, and try to share an awkward laugh while clutching an increasingly warm drink. They say that it’s never wise to try and say anything too profound, but I want to do just that, and not have their first reaction be that I must have stolen the idea from someone else.
  10. Go to the Outer Banks – As someone who was born and raised in scenic New Jersey, I know a thing or two about what a quality beach should look like. Even without Snooki, overpriced zeppoles, or fights with bouncers, I think we’d enjoy this.
  11. Get involved in a case competition – On several occasions, I signed up for these this year, only to have circumstances prevent me from fully engaging. For me, the best part of the curriculum, compared with my undergraduate experience, is the abundance of cases. And, I think, it’d be nice to do one that wasn’t graded. And to be ready if I choose to go back into consulting.
  12. Get a Job – Oh yeah, the real reason for business school. I’ve heard discouragingly conflicting accounts of whether or not an internship offer is a good indicator of a full-time offer, so this one is definitely going to be placed under the “TBD” category for the foreseeable future. I’m thinking it’s going to be hard to justify putting down a well paying job and incurring $100K in debt without some pecuniary payoff. But, if you’ll indulge me and allow me to bore you with a brief aside, I should say that the real value of my experience at Fuqua probably won’t be measured in quantifiable terms. It’s difficult to put a price tag on a two-year, transformative learning experience, and I think that when you see statistics about quickest payback periods for student loans, the two-year hiatus from the daily grind is generally not included in the calculation. Well, I intend to never subscribe to those calculations, and instead consider fully the way I felt during these two years when determining whether it was really worth the investment. And, so far, I have no complaints.