Apr 042016

Before I came to business school, I always imagined it was this cut-throat environment where a good poker face would come in handy. Well, several months in and I now know, that description does not fit the bill. We all have our strengths, we all have our areas for improvement and the cohort member sitting next to you is often struggling with the same thing.

Rarely is there a chance to showcase our not-so-business school talents but the S-Games is here to change all that. The S-Games competitions between first and second years occur over the course of a few months and tap into a variety of random talents across the cohorts. Competitions include dodgeball, trivia, the newlyweds game, soccer, the lazy game (still waiting to find out what this is) and my personal favorite–iron chef.

We first years kept it real and went the BBQ route. My cohort member Ryan smoked several pounds of pork overnight and created a juicy, flavorful masterpiece. In keeping with the BBQ theme (and student budget) we served on picnic-appropriate disposable plates. Riding on their post-internship salary, the second years opted to play to the judges and offered up tequila marinated Latin American chicken with a side of mango salsa. Admittedly, this was a beautiful presentation and the judges took note.

The second years took home the win for this competition but first years are currently in the lead by a 3-2 margin. The softball competition occurs tomorrow and lets just say, the Pepsi challenge is on…



First years keep it real (and delicious)


Second years get fancy (no plates were broken during the production of this S-Game)


Distinguished judges Joe, Lele, Dr. K, Charley and Paulo

Mar 032016

I guess I am not the typical business school student. I received a BFA (yes, the ‘FA’ stands for fine art) majoring in photography and graphic design from the Parsons School of Design in NYC. My alma mater did not have sororities, sports teams, a cafeteria or even a campus for that matter. If I had invited my artsy classmates to a football game, they would have assumed I was joking.

My experience at Smith could not be any more different from my days at Parsons. One typical university experience that still eluded me was spring break. I wasn’t angling to have the full Panama City Beach, FL spring break experience but the idea of going somewhere tropical with a classmate I enjoyed sounded just right.

My cohort member Madeleine and I left for the Cayman Islands with the exact same agenda–relaxation. We pet stingrays, sipped tropical drinks on white sand beaches and ate the best ceviche ever. We accomplished our mission for relaxation and had a lot of fun too. Loving my #MBAlife

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Jan 032016

There are few times in your life when you are surrounded by people from across the globe all on the same journey. School tends to dominate all aspects of these connections–everyone around you is busy, everyone is struggling with one class or another, everyone is working on the same assignments as you. It really isn’t until you spend time together outside of class do you realize what an amazingly diverse group of people you are surrounded by. Before I started at Smith, I had never met an amazing Tango dancer, eaten homemade Taiwanese food or watched someone drape a sari (its much harder than it looks!).

Thursday socials are perhaps my favorite part of the week. They happen almost every Thursday and are usually hosted by one of the MBA clubs. Diwali Night hosted by the International MBA Association was perhaps my favorite social thus far. It ended our week of midterms, which were stressful to say the least.

I could smell the curry from the first floor of Van Munching Hall. When the elevator door opened up to the second floor atrium, there was an explosion of colors. The Indian students had graciously loaned out their saris and kurtas and gave a bunch of us non-Indian students dance lessons. The halls traditionally filled with the hustle and bustle of students rushing to class had transformed into the closest thing to a Bollywood set I will ever see. It was an evening I will never forget.


©Mohamed Boraie

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Nov 192015

Everyone told me that the first term at business school is the hardest and I have only come to appreciate this in that past couple weeks. The transition into Term B has been a welcome one–from Micro Econ and Accounting to Marketing and Strategy. Our classes have gone from lecture style, formula heavy content to being much more debate driven. The ‘case based’ leaning plays to a different set of strengths and it is nice to reciprocate all the help my cohort members gave me in the quant heavy first term.

In one of our first marketing classes, we discussed the different advertising strategies between Viagra and Cialis. And yes, there were plenty of humorous comments that class. Having a chance to read through Trader Joe’s business strategy and understand it was amazing. The work is tough but the friendships and skills I’ve developed her are priceless.



Oct 062015

We’ve all thought it, said it or heard it before–‘I’m not good at taking tests.’ From the perfectly crafted outlines devoted to memory to the loud ticking of the clock on test day and the sinking feeling of your grade lowering as your memory fails you–taking tests is not fun. Yet tests are so deeply integrated into academia, its hard to avoid them if you have a desire to further your education.

After 10 years in the workforce and out of school, I found the idea of taking the GMAT daunting. The more people I spoke to, the more I realized there are tons of people who wanted to go back to school but were repelled by the idea of taking this test. As I was determined to get an MBA, I decided to start viewing tests as a game. Your objective is to win but there are hurdles and curve balls thrown your way in order to keep you from advancing to the next level.

Midterms in my first semester of B-school were definitely loaded with hurdles. One year ago, I never would have guessed I could calculate the price elasticity of an Xbox 360 console. I am not even sure I got the right answer (actually I’m very doubtful I did) but the fact that I had some idea of how to was a leap over a huge hurdle. I am glad to have midterms behind me but in hindsight, it was not as bad as I thought.

Sep 012015

In September 2014, my calendar was littered with MBA tours, class visits, info sessions, grad school fairs and GRE prep classes. At the time, it seemed like a lot to juggle with a full time job. The first time I sat in on an MBA class, I thought to myself, ‘everyone in the room looks shell shocked’. It felt like the first of many steps in a very long commitment to invest in myself.

I remember bits and pieces of advice given to me the first time I visited Smith School of Business as a prospective student. Phrases like ‘be prepared to hit the ground running’ ‘prioritize—its like drinking from a fire hose’ echoed in my mind during my first week as a full time MBA student at UMD. Nothing would have really prepared me except for experiencing it first hand. To put it in layman’s terms, my new life could be summed up as 200+ new faces, 5 new teachers teaching content I know nothing about, 5 different teaching styles, 1 coach, 20 clubs, 50+ hours per week of programming, and a lot of free lunches. I guess it’s like going to the gym—the long-term benefits are immeasurable but it takes a lot out of you while you are there.

First day selfie

First day selfie