Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog
Thursday: A Day in the Life of a Fuqua MBA Student
About this time last year, I remember wondering what day-to-day life would be like as an MBA student. Current students told me their days were packed with classes, speakers, and recruiting events. Still, I had trouble imagining what business school would really be like. Would assignments really be completed in teams? Would I spend the evenings studying? Would there be time to do hobbies I enjoyed, like running and cycling?
In this post, I hope to give you a sense of a typical Thursday for me at Fuqua during the first term, and address some of the questions you may have about business school. Of course, remember that this is just my experience. At Fuqua, you will tailor your daily life and activities to what you are most interested in, so each person’s day looks different. As you can see, the schedule is pretty packed, but for me, being engaged in school from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep is exactly why I chose Fuqua.
7:15 AM: Wake up.
7:45 – 8:55 AM: Go to the gym at Wilson Recreation Center on campus, about a 7-minute walk from Fuqua.
9:00 – 9:30 AM: Meet with my Fuqua buddy to discuss his summer internship. He worked at a local pharmaceutical company that I’m interested in, so it was great to hear his perspective. Each admitted student is assigned a first-year Fuqua buddy upon admission to Fuqua. Fuqua buddies are a great resource for questions about Fuqua and how to prepare for the year ahead.
9:30 – 10:30 AM: Sit in Fox Center and prepare for class.
10:30 AM – 12:45 PM: Biotech and Pharma Strategy class: Since I exempted from two core classes, I was able to take an elective course during Fall Term 1. This was a case-based class focused on topics such as pricing, vaccine launch, intellectual property, and acquisitions. One of my favorite parts of this course was learning from the second-year students’ contributions. They had great insights from their summer internships that enhanced the class discussion. For me, the highlight of the course was actually the final paper — my team developed a launch strategy for a new Hepatitis C drug expected to gain FDA approval in 2014.
12:45 – 1:45 PM: Lunch in Fox Center. Fuqua has a great cafeteria with a salad bar and many made-to-order options. Most business students eat lunch in the Fox Center so it’s a great opportunity to catch up with section mates or get to know new classmates.
1:45 – 4:00 PM: Accounting core class. During Global Institute, Fall 1, and Fall 2, first years typically attend all core classes with their section (the entire Daytime class is divided into 6 sections). Attending class with your section mates is a great way to get to know a subset of Fuquans more deeply. Before each accounting class we had a team case due, which we complete with our Consequential Leadership (C-LEAD) teams. One of the best lessons my team learned throughout the term was how to be more efficient in our meetings. When we were all busy with competing recruiting, academic, and social priorities, we wanted to make the most of each meeting while still ensuring that each member of the group understood the material presented. I am lucky to have a great team, so we had plenty of laughs throughout the term and have gotten to know each other well as both colleagues and friends.
4:15 – 6:30 PM: Statistics core class. The semester flies by and there is a ton of material packed into 6 weeks, so I had to push myself to be accountable to make sure I understood the material from each class. We had an online test due before each class so that was a good way to check understanding.
6:45 – 8:00 PM: Corporate presentation. Recruiting presentations start during Fall Term 1 for most industries including consulting, finance, marketing, and general management. Companies that recruit Fuqua MBAs typically have one official on-campus presentation about the company. Because of the strong Fuqua network, most of these companies send members from their leadership team who are Fuqua alumni. During presentations, these representatives typically give an overview of the company, explain available internship opportunities, and answer students’ questions. After the presentation, there is typically a networking reception where students have a chance to get to know the company representatives and get a better sense of company culture.
8:00 – 11:00 PM: Eat dinner, do homework and catch up on emails. Homework usually involves reading cases and preparing assignments in advance of group meetings. Most assignments are team assignments during Fall 1 and Fall 2. My study team met before each assignment was due so individually, I always took a stab at completing the assignment (or at least attempting to) so I would be prepared to contribute to our team meetings.