The pre-MBA journey: What to do with your summer vacation

I vividly remember the phone call on December 16, 2015 with news about my acceptance to the MIT Sloan MBA program. The call could not have been better timed: it was my birthday and I was traveling in Boston for work. I was elated and excited, but almost immediately started putting together a checklist of things I wanted to do before starting school.

Deciding what to do in the time prior to starting an MBA Program can be a challenge. Almost everyone I spoke to had a view on what I should do – from traveling to picking up a new skill to even getting married – nothing was off the table! Here’s what I considered:

  • Travel – No better time to do a reunion trip with classmates from undergrad or long lost childhood friends. Or a summer sojourn with future classmates. I traveled through Eastern Europe back in March with friends from college. I then spent much of the summer in East Africa, where I had the chance to hike in the Great Rift Valley, visit the beaches of Zanzibar and go on an elephant safari by the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I write this post from the culture center of Luang Prabang in Laos, traveling with a fellow admitted student as part of travels in East Asia before heading to Cambridge next month.
MBA 18s meeting up in Bangkok

MBA 18s meeting up in Bangkok, Thailand

  • Get ready for school – Attend a pre-MBA networking event in your city or enrol in an online preparatory statistics or accounting class. I attended AdMIT weekend in February. It was wonderful spending a few days on-campus (despite the incredibly cold weather!) with current and future students alike.
  • Relax – This can mean different things for different people: getting fit, learning a new language, going back to a sport you played while growing up, catching up on reading or simply brushing up your guitar and piano skills.
  • Spend time with loved ones – Enjoy much deserved downtime with parents, siblings, a significant other, or – like some of my friends are doing – buy a house or get married!
  • Work – Many students prefer to work all the way until school starts; this would certainly help reduce the tuition burden. Alternately, this is a good time to explore your post-MBA career goals by pursuing an internship in a new industry. Another school of thought suggests that unlike the summer between the two years of the program when most students would intern in order to land a full-time job offer, one could be carefree this summer and try something new and different. I quit my job at Morgan Stanley in New York City in the spring and spent the summer at Sanergy, a social enterprise in Kenya founded by MIT Sloan alumni in 2010. I found this experience different, enriching and fun.
Sloan student meetup in Nairobi, Kenya

Sloan student event in Nairobi, Kenya

There is no right answer or a ‘model solution’ to how you could spend the time prior to starting school. Irrespective of what you choose, it is important to do something personally meaningful, have fun along the way, relax and get to campus energised and reinvigorated. The key is to try and not succumb to FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out” phenomenon), at least not before the semester starts.

The past six months have been nothing short of amazing: I have had the opportunity to be a Sloanie even before stepping onto campus, and I have only been humbled by the experience so far. If this is how the trailer looks, I simply can’t wait for the movie to start. Onward and Sloanward!

Jayesh Kannan

Jayesh Kannan, CFA, is a second-year MBA student. He has previously lived and worked in Mumbai, Singapore, New York City and Nairobi. At Sloan, Jayesh is co-President of the Investment Management Club and a member of the Finance Track Student Advisory Board. He is particularly interested in emerging markets and technology investing and has contributed to a column in the Financial Times. Jayesh enjoys traveling and playing squash.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *