A year ago, my life was very different: I was living in New York City, putting in long hours at work during the day, and working on B-school applications and studying for the GMAT at night. I know just as well as the next guy or gal the stress that comes with applying to a top tier business school — for the period of August through December of last year I took what felt like a permanent hiatus from friends and family as I worked towards my B-school goal. However, one experience in particular helped me to remain focused and keep my eye on the prize during times when it felt like I was swimming against the current: in early November of last year, I attended Duke’s annual MBA Weekend for Women. The event was a turning point for me last year because it helped me realize that Fuqua was THE place for me. Earlier this month, I was fortunate to participate in the event, again, but from a different perspective, as a current student and organizer.
The Duke MBA Weekend for Women
The Weekend for Women (W4W) is an annual invitation-only diversity event that brings female prospective students to campus for a chance to experience life at Fuqua. The weekend is filled with leadership discussions, career panels, introductions to Fuqua’s curriculum and clubs, and networking events with current students and alumni.
Celebrating 10 Years
This year marked the 10-year anniversary of the W4W. The event included over 80 prospective students, representing various geographic locations and with professional backgrounds ranging from engineering to non-profit. Over 30 alumnae also attended, providing prospective students an opportunity to hear first-hand about the value of the Fuqua network throughout the trajectory of one’s career. Some of the alumnae have returned to Fuqua for the W4W for multiple years, and they have helped to make it a success for 10 years. The visiting alumnae were an incredible resource: throughout the weekend, over lunches and coffee chats, we (prospective and current students) had the opportunity to engage with the incredibly successful women from many professions. With all of the transparency, jokes, and laughter throughout these conversations, it didn’t feel like I was networking — but I certainly came out with great new contacts and an interest in several new functions and industries. That’s the power of the Fuqua network.
- Buddy Wine Night: Each W4W attendee is paired with a current student “buddy” to act as a point of reference throughout the weekend and during the application process. Last year, my relationship with my buddy was incredibly useful, and now that I am on the other side of the fence, I was more than happy to be paired with a few wonderful ladies who attended the W4W! We met over a glass of wine (what better ice breaker is there?) and we discussed everything from nuances of the application process to our favorite New York City restaurants.
- Women in Leadership Discussion: Management & Organizations Professor Ashleigh Rosette has earned many accolades both in and outside of Fuqua (she’s featured in Poets & Quants as a 40 best professor under 40). During the W4W, Ashleigh discussed her research on women and their path to leadership, incorporating hot topics such as Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” movement and recent reactions to the HBS gender and leadership initiatives.
- Taste of the Core: No MBA weekend is complete without a taste of our world class education. Attendees had the exciting opportunity to attend “mock classes.” In a typical class visit visitors sit silently at the back of the room during an actual MBA class, but not during W4W. Accounting Professor Shane Dikolli and Finance Professor Michael Brandt graciously taught mock classes over the weekend, utilizing actual cases and materials from MBA courses. This offered prospective students an opportunity to engage, participate, and get a true taste of what sitting in a Fuqua classroom entails.
The weekend was a huge success and being on the other side of the fence this year, I couldn’t help but remember attending the event last year. The W4W is what made me realize that Fuqua was my top choice. Experiencing the beautiful campus, the quality of education, the inclusiveness of Team Fuqua — all of this drove my aspirations and encouraged me to push through impossibly hard GMAT questions and tedious application nuances in an effort to reach my goal of becoming a part of Team Fuqua. I hope this year’s attendees left with the same feeling!