A Day in My MBA Life

Before applying to B-school, I was told by many students how miserable their lives were because they were so busy and slept so little. Is it true? Let’s find out … here’s an agenda of one of my typical days:

7:30 AM. Head to school. I don’t like getting up before 7, but it makes the day longer and more productive. 4.4 miles (7 km) driving costs me only 8 minutes — the traffic here is much better than in a big city.

8:00 AM. Marketing core class. Grab a cup of coffee from Fox Center during the break. Today’s case is about the management of a leading European soccer club. I had no idea about the sports industry before B-school, but after some educational events hosted by the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Club and the class discussion, I now understand some key concepts and profit centers in a sports club. Though I’ll never manage a sports club, it fulfills my curiosity and broadens my perspectives in the business world.

10:30 AM. Leadership Communication class. It’s time for my team to deliver a 45-minute presentation on our analysis of an online retail industry. We presented about the industry fundamentals, the macroeconomic environment, and several key industry trends. As we expected, our team got lots of challenges from classmates who acted as “board members,” and we addressed their concerns collectively. Overall, each one of us improved a lot in our presentation structure, transition and delivery since the start of the course, thanks to several informational and advocacy presentation practices and impromptu exercises. We even recorded our presentations — nobody likes watching a video of themselves, but it helped us to improve our presentation skills. I like hearing sincere feedback from instructors and peers, and I also learned a lot from classmates’ presentation styles and best practices.

A picture of a stack of Fuqua coursepacks
I cannot believe I’ve finished so many readings and course packs! And there are more to come …

12:45 PM. International Students in Marketing panel. Sandwich provided. The Marketing Club invited 5 second-years who worked in marketing in various industries during the summer to share their internship experiences and answer first-years’ questions. Every professional club has an international team, which provides some resources to other international students.

1:30 PM. Strategy class. A principal from Bain is a guest speaker today, and introduces a real case in the auto parts distribution industry. Student teams discussed the situation, implications and recommendations based on tons of raw data. Later, we heard brilliant ideas from other teams, and had lots of fun acting out the dynamic communication that may happen between “CEO” and “consultants.” The “consultants” were challenged on the huge amount of investments on the new strategy, and this is exactly what we would face in real life. Finally, the guest speaker shared Bain’s actual findings, recommendations and the implementation results that really happened — it was enlightening. It’s great to connect our learning to reality, to avoid thinking of wild and unfeasible ideas.

4:00 PM. Team meeting. We worked on an assignment to propose the price of a new drug for a pharmaceutical company. I don’t have any knowledge in healthcare, but I’m interested in understanding the key players on the value chain. We had all 6 team members in the meeting — not easy to achieve when everyone has a packed schedule. After many discussions and calculations, we agreed on a number for the drug price.

5:30 PM. Net Impact Club cabinet meeting. After each team’s update, we brainstormed about fundraising events for the summer internship fund, which is provided to classmates in the non-profit sector. It sounds like we’ll have lots of fun in the Spring!

6:30 PM. Read 20 emails on my cellphone. Had a call with an alumna, my mentor of AWIB (Association of Women in Business). She shared her experiences from a career switch from an engineer to a marketer and her post-MBA career progression. Reflecting back, her most valuable takeaway from the program is the breadth of the knowledge structure, which built a solid foundation for long-term career development. I also got practical advice in elective choices and time management.

7:30 PM. Corporate Education in Global Marketing. Alumni from a leading consumer packaged goods company shared a successful real case, a global marketing campaign of the 100th birthday of a cookie brand in 2012, and the learnings from it. This is just one example of many events where I learned marketing strategies from top global brands. My favorite parts are digital marketing strategy and the video of marketing campaigns — full of excitement and fun.

9:00 PM. Workout time! At Wilson Center. The gym is outstanding, and so are other sports venues. I could not catch the group fitness class or rock climbing class, but I will make it one day. I have to condense my workout to one hour due to 7 more items on today’s to-do list.

10:30 PM. Arrive home. Email time. RSVP for upcoming events including lunch and learn opportunities and casual chats with second-years.

11:00 PM. Study time. Read the case for tomorrow’s team meeting for Strategy class. What, craft beer industry? No idea again, which indicates more learning. Reading speed has increased from 6-8 minutes/page to 3-4 minutes/page, so I can easily finish reading a case within an hour now. I glance at the lecture notes for tomorrow’s Finance class. I should also go through some problem sets for the coming mid-term exam, but … let me leave it for tomorrow.

12:00 AM. Check tomorrow’s calendar: no class (it’s Wednesday!) Duke Energy Conference, some coffee chats with alumni, a team meeting, an appointment with my Language Institute instructor, a corporate event, choir at Duke Chapel, and a Bowling Mixer! Ok, time to get some rest now …

Meiqing Fan

Daytime MBA, Class of 2014

I was born in Shanghai, worked in Beijing and came to the United States as one of the youngest members of my class at Fuqua. While here I’ve held several club cabinet positions, traveled as much as I could and still found time to play golf on the Duke course nearby.

Learn more about Meiqing | View all of Meiqing's Posts

  • River

    cool! that sounds a fruitful day, and you are going to be come a superwoman on graduation.
    come on!

    • Meiqing Fan

      Thanks, River. Every day is fruitful 🙂

  • Pushkar

    Nice post Meiqing! Thank you.
    Fuqua Class of 2015.

    • Meiqing Fan

      Thanks, Pushkar. Look forward to meeting you in Durham!

  • Lili

    Thanks for sharing, Meiqing!
    It’s great to know that every professional club has an international team!
    I really enjoy your writing style. =)


    • Meiqing Fan

      Hi Lili,

      Thanks for your interest.
      It’s great to have an international team in every professional clubs, but I would say that it still relies on individuals to get the job. That’s just another complementary resource in recruiting, among others.

  • Fleur

    Thank you Meiqing for your sharing! This topic is interesting and provide some picture about MBA life. Very tight schedule, seems no time for meals and break…

    • Meiqing Fan

      You’re exactly right! Sometimes I felt there was no time for meals or breaks in last term (Fall Term 2). But the good news is that it’s only one term (6 weeks). The agenda looks much better in spring term!

  • Bobo

    Great sharing, Meiqing.
    I will join the interview of Full-time MBA after 2 weeks, and I have some questions. Is it possible to talk with you privately through email? Thanks for your time.
    I see that you are extremely busy. 🙂

    • Meiqing Fan

      Congratulations! Interview invitation is a great milestone. Sure, I’m happy to answer your questions.

  • Thao Nguyen (Class of 2015)

    Meiqing, it seems you are absolutely enjoying the program. I am excited to join the team but a bit nervous on the workload and time management. Any tips on pre-MBA preparation? Thank you.

    Hope to meet you in the Fall!

    • Meiqing Fan

      Welcome to Team Fuqua, Thao!

      Well, regarding the work load, it’s all your own choice. Time management is an issue. Admittedly, I sometimes struggled in Fall 2, when I ran between one event and another, without any break/ lunch time. I think prioritization (or giving up something) is critical, if you want a more balanced life style.

      Regarding pre-MBA preparation, you could begin to familiarize yourself with statistics/ economics/ finance basics, if you don’t have related education background. But I don’t think academic challenge would be a top issue, so I would recommend just relaxing, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Most importantly, workout, enjoy your favorite local food and sufficient sleep, to prepare for the coming 4 intense months!

      Look forward to meeting you in the Fall!

  • Sizhong Zhang(Class of 2015)

    What a fun piece to read! Thanks, Meiqing. Keep writing!

    Did you mean draft beer? 🙂

    • Meiqing Fan

      Thanks, Sizhong. I’ll definitely keep writing, probably more about specific activities in Spring terms.

      Well, craft beer as opposed to mass beer. I had no idea about it before B-school, but somehow I faced several related cases in classwork, case competitions and interviews. I’m not a big drinker, but exposure to new industries and fresh knowledge are an integral part of the exciting MBA learning experience!

      Look forward to meeting you in Durham in fall!

  • David

    Great post!
    I’m currently in the process of applying for the Fuqua program and this really helped me understand what I will be tackling once I’m accepted.

    Sounds like a lot of fun to me!! Cheers!!

    • Meiqing Fan

      Hi David,
      Glad to hear that it helps! This is also what I wanted to see when I applied for Fuqua. You’re right – lots of fun everyday!
      Best of luck!

  • Christina Yu

    Thanks for your sharing, Meiqing! It REALLY helps!
    A variety of case studies whose topic “ala va xiaode” before, Super loooong to-do-list, and “let me leave it for tomorrow” decision…I need to take a deep breathing first!

    BTW, what would be the five of your random things in Fuqua so far?

    • Meiqing Fan

      Hi Christina,
      I’m surprised to see Shanghainese here! I’m glad that you find it helpful.
      My random things at Fuqua… Great question! Running a Half Marathon, taking the leadership role in a simulation team assignment in Operations class, serving as a Board Associate in a local non-profit organization, skeet shooting with Outdoor Club, joking moments in team meetings and serious moments in presentation preparation with my learning team, and co-producing a video for Chinese students in Class of 2013 for the farewell party. Actually, I’m going to write a post to share my random things in my first-year experience. Thanks for asking!

  • Keyi Zhang

    Hi, Meiqing

    Great sharing, thanks a lot.
    Seems you’ve got a lot going on everyday, hope you enjoy it. 🙂
    I am currently applying for Duke class 2016, I wonder if I could write you an email and get some info?
    Many thanks.

    • Meiqing Fan

      Keyi – Sure. Happy to answer any question you may have. Thanks!

  • Paula Ecklund

    Great blog post, Meiqing. I don’t know how you find the time to fit in so many activities, *plus* you’re volunteering this term to help deliver the first-year core Business Computer Applications course. You truly are a superwoman! Congratulations! (I’ll have to get some advice from you about your half marathon training.) Thanks!

    • Meiqing Fan

      Hi Paula, I’m surprised to see faculty here – I assume most blog visitors are prospective students, but it could be a good way to connect people within Fuqua community.
      Half-marathon training is a little bit tedious, not as interesting as grading BCA assignments 🙂

  • Melinda Yang

    A fruitful and efficient day! Thanks for sharing!

  • Bhavika Sicka

    Wow. Definitely a super-packed day! You seem to be managing time really well, and more importantly, enjoying making the most of it. As a prospective student, I’ve often wondered what a typical day in the life of a B-school student looks like. This post has been very enlightening, thank you!