With three months of “real life” under my belt after finishing the University of Maryland MBA Program at the Robert H. Smith School’s Baltimore Campus and a new consulting job humming right along, it’s a good time to reflect. I’ll start by saying that the Smith experience was outstanding. Some professors and classes are better than others, the food at the Café Gourmet cropped up in reoccurring nightmares, and I dreaded not seeing my fiancée, dog or bed until 10:30 p.m. But the minor frustrations were no match for the wonderful, enriching environment available at Smith if you take advantage of it.
I left the MBA program with a shiny new degree, a great strategic consulting job with a large, national firm, some very close friends who attended my wedding one week after graduation, and several strong relationships with professors and faculty. I feel smarter at work, more well-rounded at home, and am proud to have put in the significant effort required to successfully complete the program. Though everyone’s experience is different, I can only hope that most students share in my sentiment. If not, they should take a long look at their approach, because the problem likely stems more from themselves than from the program itself.
So with that, I’ll leave you with 10 crucial tips I gathered from my 26 months in the Smith program:
- Get to know professors – these relationships will prove to be extremely valuable both during the courses and after graduation.
- Be honest with groupmates – it’s perfectly fine if a classmate can’t contribute much, but he needs to make that clear from the get-go.
- Embrace change – it will continue to happen well after students leave the program.
- Go to the gym before class – there’s a nice gym in the BioPark building that’s free for students, and that extra energy can be essential for case discussions that push up until 10 p.m.
- Volunteer to present in group projects – people will get to know students’ personalities, talents, and abilities if they are visible.
- Take weekend classes in DC – knocking out a few credits in a handful of class sessions is worth it every time.
- Consider taking classes over the summer and winter breaks – maintaining a consistent schedule keeps students in the same mindset, and less break time translates into graduating faster.
- Attend as many social events as possible or arrange your own – even with hectic schedules, networking with classmates over beers is often the most valuable use of time (my core group went to Camden Pub at least once every two weeks).
- Engage guest speakers after they present – businesspeople who come to share their knowledge with classes are usually good networkers by default, and getting their contact information and a putting a face in their heads can only be positive.
- Reach out to alumni and take advantage of all we know – whether it’s professors, logistics, or job contacts, we are current students’ best resource.
I hope these tips were helpful and the Smith experience is as positive as mine was. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geremy Bass is a Washington, D.C. native who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland before finishing his Masters of Business Administration from the Smith School of Business in 2013. His extensive background in marketing, strategy and business led him into his current role as a strategic planning and management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. Geremy is an outdoorsman, music aficionado, avid hockey fan, fitness enthusiast and Renaissance man who resides in Baltimore and enjoys spending time with friends and family.