Sep 132013
A view of the Potomac River from Weverton Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail.

A view of the Potomac River from Weverton Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail. (Photo / Peter Haldis)

I’ve just completed my third week of my second year in the MBA-Master of Public Policy program here at the University of Maryland, and it’s probably been the busiest week I’ve experienced since my arrival here last fall. That, combined with the oppressive heat we’ve experienced much of the past week, has left me exhausted.

Prior to this week, I attended the first-annual second-year MBA retreat at a camping ground in western Maryland. Highlights of the trip included a day of whitewater rafting on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, a seven-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail and a survival challenge courtesy of Smith faculty member Oliver Schlake.

Upon returning to campus, I had to jump right back into the grind. This is the first semester in which I’ve taken both MBA and MPP classes, and this past week is the first time I’ve had to deal with the challenges of juggling two sets of coursework. Tuesday was a remarkable exercise in this as I was on campus from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Typically, I only have one class on Tuesdays, a public policy course on management and leadership. However, this past Tuesday, I had to give a 45-minute group presentation on the leadership challenges related to Hurricane Katrina, and arrived to school early to put the final touches on the presentation.

At the conclusion of the class, I took a break for lunch before attending my initial client meeting for my Smith Experience project. This project involves creating a marketing plan for a non-profit called Year Up, which works with urban 18 to 24-year-olds to help them go to college or pursue a professional career. Following this meeting, I put in my two hours of work at my grad assistantship in the Smith Office of Marketing Communications, before heading off to dinner.

After dinner, I attended a Smith Experience “boot camp” to prepare all Smith students working on Smith Experience consulting projects for the semester ahead, followed by another meeting with my Year Up team before finally being able to head home at 8:30.

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