Thoughts on Graduating

Yup, I’m Done …

On Saturday, I finished my last final exam of my business school career. Assuming I didn’t fail anything, this is it. No more pencils, no more books. It wasn’t as climactic as I thought it’d be. I remember graduating from undergrad, 6 ½ years ago now. That was climactic; I seem to remember running out of class after my last final, perhaps with a flask awaiting as soon as I reached daylight. But no theatrics this time.

I think it’s because, in my old age, I’ve gotten more pensive. Sure, this is a time for celebration. Part of what makes the MBA unique, I feel, is that it isn’t the end of one thing, as much as it is the beginning of something else. After two years of hard work, many thousands of dollars, and a fair share of frustration and late nights, what lies ahead better be pretty awe inspiring. I, for one, am lucky to have a wonderful job lined up, and I get to reunite with my lovely wife, in an apartment not too far from where I grew up. So, while there are a lot of things I’m going to miss about business school, I feel that I probably have more to look forward to, and maybe it was that thought that prevented any antics upon leaving this afternoon.

But what was it about business school that really prepared me for the brave new world that awaits? I have a few thoughts:

  1. Time Management: For some reason, I was able to get away with not having this skill in great quantities. As a peon at a consulting firm, you show up at meetings when told to, and finish assignments as quick as you can. But it turns out that being a manager necessitates the finer skill of planning. Adult life seems to demand this also. And business school, for its part, leaves the student no choice but to forge this skill pretty quickly, even if some of the time being managed is reserved for silly theme parties.
  2. Humility: I’m quite certain that I’m going to go into my first job and be the most uninformed guy in the room. This will probably persist for a while. But, fortunately, I have a track record in this area. The first few months at Fuqua presented a case study in how little I actually knew. It’s probably a good lesson in general; if we are to be successful, we’re always going to be in the midst of people who are a lot smarter than we are.
  3. Writing like a Businessman: It turns out that important people are much more likely to take what you say seriously if they can read it in a succinct e-mail, rather than if you say it in a meeting while they’re checking their blackberries or trying to determine whether their assistants accidentally got them decaf at Starbucks. Our professors, and especially our TAs, seem to have the same mentality. And I do realize the hypocrisy of me saying this in the middle of a 600 word write-up.
  4. When Enough is Enough: Seriously, if we were to do all the reading assigned to us, all of the recruiting we should, and all the things we’re supposed to do in order to be contributing members of the Fuqua community like we pledged in our application essays, there probably wouldn’t be time to sleep or eat. I know there’s some cachet in that, but I get pretty cranky when I don’t get my sleep. After I leave here, I’m going to need to remember how to draw lines; life, after all, is what happens when you leave the office for the day.
Michael Ferguson

Mike Ferguson

Daytime MBA, Class of 2011

While at Fuqua, I was involved in the Finance Club, the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, and the Duke Microfinance Leadership Initiative. After graduation, I relocated to Jersey City, NJ to work for Standard & Poor's.

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  • http://www.facewell.de Facewell

    Nice Article. Thanks for it. Greetings from Germany. :)

  • Michael Ferguson

    Facewell,

    Schönen Dank. I had to look that up, hope some of the other entries are appealing also.

    Mike