I originally wrote the message below to a Fuqua professor to share how much my time in the MMS program impacted me on a professional level. I hope these musings may help you in your decision to attend the program. My one year at Duke had a big impact on my life, and I wholeheartedly recommend you join Team Fuqua as well.
It’s been just over three years since I graduated from the MMS program. During that time, I ventured into consulting at Ernst & Young (EY), where I saw a lot of different businesses, analyzed a lot of strategic challenges, and built a whole lot of slides to help our clients out. With that stint in consulting ending (for now!), I wanted to reflect on my time at the firm and the ways my Fuqua education prepared me for the challenges ahead.
This one’s obvious. The 10 months of MMS were rather tough, with multiple new assignments coming in per day. Fuqua taught me to focus on the bottom line and work diligently at it, at times late into the night, and this perseverance came in very handy when the going got tough in the final stages of a project.
During our assignments, Fuqua encouraged us to keep it simple, stupid (KISS). A lot of the cases we worked on purposefully contained information not relevant to the task at hand. We had to cut through this clutter and focus on what’s essential, something I went on to apply at work daily. I made it a personal goal to clearly structure my thoughts and quickly get to the point, which was greatly appreciated by clients and colleagues alike. Always keep the topic at hand in mind and leave out needless bits of info.
Fuqua taught us to focus on our ‘and’—that extra bit we bring to the table, our unique selling proposition or USP, so to speak. For me, it was my background in psychology. A lot of my early work in strategy consulting focused on marketing, so my profile was that of the guy who had a background in business and psychology. I went on to add a second and to that profile—the guy who has a background in business and psychology and information technology. Turns out that living at topical intersections makes you unique and indispensable for certain projects. Who knew? Fuqua knew.
I don’t know where I would be today without the networking practice I had at Fuqua. I landed my first major project at EY by chatting with a partner over coffee and found in them a mentor who has helped me with many projects since. What’s more, networking becomes even more effective because surprisingly few people end up doing it, so one stands out even more when they ask for coffee dates and raise their hand for new opportunities that way. Looking back, the value of and best practices for networking probably were the most important takeaway from the MMS program.
The MMS Age Advantage
Finally, I found that it is quite unusual to have the skills the program helps you sharpen at such a young age. Because many of the MMS classes teach concepts very close to MBA ones, I learned crucial insights and problem-solving approaches in my early 20s that others sometimes don’t learn until many years later (if at all). When I entered the working world, I was surprised to see that I brought a skillset that immediately made me stand out on many projects I worked on.
So there you have it—some of the professional ways MMS prepared me for the challenges of working life. Throughout these years I could always fall back on some nugget of wisdom I picked up from a Fuqua professor. I’m convinced they’ll continue to serve me well as I face new challenges in the times to come.