Making the Most of a Short One Year

Author: Gigi Seagren is a current Fashion & Luxury Student, a member of Stern Women in Business, and AVP of Admissions for the Luxury & Retail Club. Upon graduation, she’ll be joining Estee Lauder Companies as a Senior Presidential Associate as a part of their MBA rotational marketing program. Prior to Stern, she was a Business Manager for Luxury Fragrances at Bloomingdale’s Flagship. 

Gigi Seagren Headshot

When reflecting on the program with one of my fellow cohort-mates over dinner and wine, we delved into our thoughts on a two-year-equivalent MBA being done in only one year. We summed it up with this: ‘I would love another year, but I don’t need another year.’ As much as we both would cherish another year spent with our new-found Stern family and engaging in continuous learning, we felt like the one year structure still allowed us to extract every benefit possible to prepare us for what comes ahead. Frame of reference is real. One year of intense studying can either feel like a lifetime or a moment, so here’s how to make the memories of the moment last a lifetime: 

Focus on learning over grades

This was a HARD concept for me to grasp. In undergrad, I was hyper-focused on my grades, even taking an “intro-to-tornados” class to boost my GPA. Spoiler alert, that class has not really helped me in my fashion career. Challenge yourself and take the classes in which you have knowledge gaps or the ones that can further hone your existing skills to make them your superpower. Don’t fret over every single assignment. I know, easier said than done, but with limited time, put your energy into the ones that you feel like you’re gaining the most knowledge from. Your time is precious, so protect it by shifting your focus…even if it means rewiring your brain from undergrad. 

Say “yes” to as many social events and gatherings as possible…without overextending yourself

Excuses are incredibly easy to come up with, and I made a lot of them in my first semester. The, “oh I have a full year to have fun with my cohort” quickly turned into “oh, I only have 2 months left.” My excuses usually revolved around me not following my own advice from point #1. Do I remember the grade I got on my 2nd Econ homework? No. Do I wish I was at the happy hour I skipped to “perfect” said assignment? Yes. Obviously, there’s a difference between excuses and actual reasons for not attending gatherings, but give yourself a pulse check to understand if you’re seeing a pattern in your ‘no’s.’ Building your relationships and network is extremely important, so allow that fulfillment to be a priority.

Get involved with campus happenings 

Go to the club events, listen to the panelists, attend the conferences, and party at Spring Fling. Because you only have one year, many of these events will be one-time opportunities. Some of my most vivid memories of the program came from these experiences. While the learnings are rich in the classroom, these events help you connect the textbook to real life, and get you excited about re-entering the real world. Even the events and conferences where I thought ‘ehh that doesn’t really pertain to me’ but went anyway, still offered amazing tid-bits. Convince your cohort mates to go with you!

Just because the year ends, doesn’t mean your relationships do too 

This is advice more to my future self. As I enter my last few weeks of my program, I feel a sense of pressure to cram in last minute memories. However, because I shifted my mindset to focus on learning rather than grades, said yes to more social gatherings, and attended as many campus events as I could with my cohort, the connections I’ve made throughout this past year are lifelong bonds. We’re already planning summer trips, weekend getaways, and picnics in the park. Don’t let the one year MBA trick you into thinking everything stops once you get your diploma. Relationship building can continue way beyond the submission click of your last project.