This year is flying by. I’m a solid 3 weeks into the Tech MBA at Stern, and it’s time for finals! It’s crazy to think that I’m already almost done with two of my classes.
Since classes are on my mind, I’ll use this first post to talk a bit about my initial impressions of the academic experience at Stern in the Tech MBA. Though I was thrilled to be coming back to school, I spent the months leading up to May dreading the idea of sitting in a lecture hall. At work I was that annoying coworker who would get up and start pacing around conference rooms 10 minutes into a meeting. How on earth would I sit still for hours of classes? Luckily, it turns out my fears were unfounded. Here are a few aspects of the program that have helped:
The classes are highly interactive – but not in a scary way. It was easy to let my mind wander during undergrad differential equations class. I can’t do that at Stern. The professors expect active participation, but not the type where you’re just regurgitating numbers or facts – they want us to share our experiences and opinions. Given the diversity of our class, this allows us to all draw from our range of backgrounds, experiences, and failures. This leads to reason #1 why I’ve been able to sit still in Stern classes: They are engaging and participatory in a way that makes you want to jump into the conversation.
Second, I quickly learned that our course content is highly relevant and thoughtful. In an era when issues such as workplace gender discrimination and corporate ethics are far from solved, I am glad to see us facing some of these issues head on. When I saw a class called “Leadership” on my schedule, I figured I was in for a lot of fluff. The first time Professor Nate Pettit opened his mouth however, I instantly knew my assumption was wrong. We don’t talk about how to give the punchiest PowerPoint presentation – instead, we focus on issues like barriers to communication, cultivating positive culture, leading effective change, and how to have difficult conversations (yes, he makes you practice!).
So that leads to reason #2 why I can sit through classes: the professors are astoundingly thoughtful about why material is important to creating strong leaders, and focus on content that resonates with our past experiences and future aspirations.
Lastly, Stern is an oasis away from a deluge of work emails. I am taking notes on paper for the first time in probably 10 years. I still can’t read my own handwriting, but putting away the laptop, putting my iPhone on do not disturb, and focusing on all the things that will further me professionally brings me to reason #3 I can sit through classes: I’m never going to get this opportunity again, and so far the program is filling the exact gaps I came here to address.