May 112012

By Tristan Tausendschoen, MBA ’13

It hit me yesterday—I am leaving for Thailand in just over one week. I have a summer internship working for the Population and Community Development Association in Pattaya Thailand, promoting condom use across the country, working with agricultural entrepreneurs, teaching in a school, and doing anything that my employer asks of me. To be honest, I am not 100% what I will be doing at all.

Between now and my departure, I have to take three finals, write three papers, work 3 ten hour work days in Northern Virginia, pack for my trip, move out of my place in College Park, organize my team for a cocktail competition … and …. just do an overwhelming amount of work before going into an uncertain situation.

In the coming fourteen weeks, I hope to chronicle my feelings, experiences, and lessons learned in a blog that is honest, humorous, and informative.  The goal of my blog is to tell my story, which is but one Smith story.  My situation is in no way unique. The vast majority of my MBA peers at Smith are finishing their first MBA year only to need to relocate to a new city and need to fit in a new environment with new expectations.

Right now my story is a story of being overwhelmed by work and other responsibilities. To me, an MBA is about balancing educational, professional, social, and personal needs in a struggle against the clock. It just happens that all of four responsibilities are hitting me at the same time in my finals week.

Educationally, I am finishing up my classes at University of Maryland, a school whose faculty is rated as the second best faculty in the country. The exams, papers, and presentations that I have left are challenging, and will take time.

Professionally, I am winding down a spring internship as a Contracting Officer with the General Services Administration in Fairfax Virginia. I made a weekly three day commitment to the Administration for the opportunity to gain a full time position upon my graduation and for the opportunity to learn a new skill. Tomorrow, I need to approach my boss about the work I will be doing when I telecommute one day a week while I am in Thailand.

Socially, I am trying to say goodbye to my first year friends, my friends outside of school, and see my family one last time. Two of my friends who are fellow first years and I are competing in Smith’s cocktail  competition  that takes place this Thursday and we need to get together and plan our presentation. I need to celebrate my mother and sister’s birthdays, say goodbye to my girlfriend, and enjoy Mother’s Day.

Personally, I have to finish everything else—moving, exercising, and doing the activities that I enjoy before I leave. The personal component of business school is in some ways the most difficult because the other three components grab so much attention. It takes a lot of courage to say that you can’t attend a group meeting because you need to get in a run, but if running is what you enjoy, running is what you should do to remain sane.

My subsequent blogs will be more in-depth, but for now, I would like to finish by thanking everyone at the Smith School. Specifically, I am thankful to Karen Watts, Associate Director of Center for International Business Education and Research. Karen Watts leveraged a personal relationship to find me an internship in Thailand, tirelessly advocated on my behalf, covered about half of my expenses, and reassured me when I lost confidence about a summer abroad. Additionally, Jeffrey Stolzfus from the Office of Career Services helped me locate a fellowship that covered the other half of my costs and worked me through the process.  I hope that I live up to Karen and Jeff’s expectations and make the Smith School proud.

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