I was fortunate enough to gain work experience prior to attending Fuqua. I’d enjoyed the experience and challenges the first few years of my professional career brought me, but I knew I wanted to return to grad school once I was sure of the path I wanted my career to take.

Fuqua gave me such a great opportunity to do this while not having to put my professional career on hold for too long with the 10-month MQM program. The flip side of that is that a 10-month graduate program goes by extremely quickly. By the time you’re comfortable being back in school and getting into your routine, you realize the program is already a third of the way done and you need to start getting your resume in shape to be prepared for graduation.

Everyone will have their preferred way of approaching a graduate program, but because of this accelerated timeline, I really wanted to make the most out of what’s come to feel like a wonderful pitstop on my career journey. Here are a few tips from my time in the program to make the most of this opportunity.

Say “Yes” to New Experiences

Working for a few years prior to attending Fuqua really opened my eyes to the importance of saying “yes.” Being in school around such incredible classmates around your age is such a unique opportunity. You’ll have the chance to do some really cool things, meet great people, and see amazing things. It makes the experience so much more fulfilling to know that you made the most of your time and can take along some lifelong memories. At the same time, it’s important not to spread yourself too thin as you don’t want to burn yourself out, but have fun along the way. Go on that bar crawl with your new friends in Chapel Hill on a Friday night, take a day trip to Raleigh to explore the city, or plan a weekend trip to Asheville. You’ll appreciate that you did once you’re back in the workforce.

Alex Gille and other MQM classmates at a Diwali celebration

Get To Know Your Classmates

I can confidently say that during my time at Fuqua, I’ve made lifelong friends from all over the world. It was definitely scary at first; I’d moved to Durham from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania without knowing a single person in the state, but it helped to remember that just about everyone would be facing a similarly uncomfortable situation. If you approach it with an open mind, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make new friends from a wide range of backgrounds. You may already have similar career aspirations, and with a simple invite to get drinks or brunch, you can find yourself surrounded by amazing people with more in common than you expect.

Alex Gille and friends at golf course

Get To Know The Faculty

One of the coolest things about my Fuqua experience has been the quality of the faculty we have the pleasure of learning from. Everyone that I’ve interacted with, including professors and the MQM program administration, have all been approachable. It’s easy to go to class every day, take your seat, and go home—but I think it adds to your time if you build connections outside of just your peers. Take the extra time to chat with them where appropriate—say hello or ask them about their day. I’ve found that it makes the time in the classroom much more fruitful, and it’s much more comfortable to approach them later for any questions or advice.

Don’t Stress Too Much

As you can imagine, a 10-month program at a school like Fuqua brings along a rigorous course load. It’s easy to see be overwhelmed by your schedule for the term or the list of assignments due over the next week, but take a step back! If you made it into Fuqua, it’s clear the admissions team knew you had what it took to succeed and thrive in that environment, and it’s important to keep that in mind. It’s obviously important to keep up academically and make sure you’re continuing to learn, but there are so many things to take advantage of outside of the classroom that you may miss if you overstress.

Another big thing is the job search. It can be stressful knowing that you have to begin preparing for the job process after only a short time in the program. However, as long as you’re keeping up with the advice of the career management center (CMC), reaching out to Fuqua alumni, and keeping your application materials in order, you’ll be set up for success when the time comes to apply for that new job.