Program Starts with a Bang at Orientation

Group of Section 5 students
My section at the beginning of our breakout session.

I didn’t fully understand the “Team Fuqua” concept that everyone talked about during the application process, that is, until I experienced Orientation, or “O-Week.” So far, O-Week has been the most memorable experience at Fuqua. What happened in just three days left me feeling like I had known my peers for three months – heck, some even three years!

Going through the ropes course
It took team work to get through the ropes course at Triangle Training!

At the beginning of Orientation, all of us newbies looked visibly apprehensive. We were assembled into Geneen, an enormous auditorium, and were surrounded by people who we really did not know. And we were presented with a lot of information about the program that we would be a part of for the next two years of our lives. What were we getting into? The amount of information was a bit overwhelming, yet exciting. There were so many opportunities and resources being presented to us and I, for one, was actually trying to figure out what I didn’t want to do, because everything interested me!

Students climb wall
With support from the whole class, each student made it over the famous wall at Triangle Training.

Team Structure & Traditions

After a couple hours of introductory presentations, we were separated into our sections. For clarification, there are 445 first-year MBAs in my class of 2013. All of these students were divided into 6 sections of approximately 65 – 75 individuals. I was placed into Section 5 (coincidentally along with my wonderful roommate, Tiffany!). It was during this section breakout that the real fun began. We were given section-specific shirts (ours are green with a large outline of a hand on the front, saying “Five,” and on the back, directions on how to do a proper “high-five.”) Second years who were in Section 5 last year taught us the section cheer and some other section traditions.

Student group
Teams became so close by the end of day 3!

The entire vibe of Orientation completely changed after this breakout session. Upon returning to Geneen auditorium, LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” (our MBA class of 2013’s official song) blared from the speakers. The air was electric with friendly competition because we had already wholeheartedly embraced our “section pride,” and we all cheered loudly for our own.

High fives
Congratulating each other after a successful team building challenge at Triangle Training.

The next few days of Orientation were filled with leadership coaching and team-building activities with our section and our Integrated Leadership Experience (ILE) team. The ILE teams consist of 6 – 7 people from your section who you do group activities with for all the core classes. During the first year, we’ll do various coaching and teamwork building exercises within our ILE teams to learn how to work together and how to effectively and properly manage conflict. The purpose of the ILE team is to learn how to establish good working relationships with a core set of people.

Time to Bond

The rest of Orientation included improvisation classes, photo scavenger hunts, silly physical activity challenges, and even a day of outdoor teambuilding activities at an off-site location (the Triangle Training Center). By overcoming various physical obstacles, we were immersed in learning and cultivated a strong bond with one another. It was tough but also a ton of fun, and included “the wall” — every Daytime student for about 20 years has had to climb the wall. Getting over it, with the help of classmates, is a great feeling!

At night, we had dinners and social events to network on a more casual basis. The International Party and the ‘80s Party were big hits! It was refreshing to see everyone let loose after long days of school-related activities.

At the end of just a few days, my section mates and I had spent so much time together that surprisingly, I felt like I had gained a new family, and in a sense I have. These are the people who I will spend nearly all my time with for the next two years, and I can already see friendships that will last well beyond my time here in business school. The things that I have learned so far about my classmates are so heartfelt, touching, impressive and empowering, and it has already instilled in me a deep respect for my peers. Ultimately, Orientation opened my eyes to the fact that Fuqua accepted a truly remarkable group of individuals for the 2013 MBA class, and I will make sure I get to know as many people in this great network as I possibly can during my time here.