Words of Wisdom from the MBA Class of 2015

Class of 2015 MBAs Alex Smetannikov, Abhishek Syal, and Erica Swallow proudly display their diplomas after walking the stage at Commencement

Class of 2015 MBAs Alex Smetannikov, Abhishek Syal, and Erica Swallow proudly display their diplomas after walking the stage at Commencement.

I don’t claim this is a scientific survey, but before they left campus for good, eight graduates from the MBA Class of 2015  answered my question:  What advice would you give incoming Sloanies?  While the responses differ in some details, what they have in common is valuable guidance for future students.

— “My top advice for incoming Sloanies is that they take time to think about and record their personal expectations and goals for the program. The exercise is an important foundation for having a fulfilling MBA experience. When I started Sloan, I wrote down three key goals for the two years and thought of clear action items to achieving each goal. This helped me pare down options and prioritize since attending MIT is like drinking from a fire hose, as they say.  That is why I recommend starting the MBA off with clear goals and ideas and/or commitments on how to achieve them.”

–“Your classmates are the most interesting, intelligent people, so make the time to get to know as many of them as you can.  It’s easy to get caught up with extracurriculars and studying, but make this goal a high priority because you will never be surrounded by such amazing people, who can be your lifelong network.   It’s been such a privilege to be in this environment, where you learn something daily from your fellow students.   I will miss everybody.  Coming back to school was the best experience I’ve had and I have grown as a person.”

— “Given the diversity of experience that students bring here, it’s hard to give generic advice. I guess my personal advice would be: if you think something can be made better, go make it better. If you have a good idea, bring it to fruition.  That is also a learning opportunity.  Mens et manus!”

— “Reach out beyond Sloan and explore the wider MIT world. Take classes in the Media Lab, go to a graduate student BBQ, walk down the infinite corridor looking at the bulletin boards. MIT is an incredible place full of interesting nooks and crannies to discover. ”

— “Open your heart and your mind to new experiences and treat your MBA as a time to experiment.  Learn about companies and roles that you never thought you would be interested in.  Take classes that stretch you.  Work on a start-up.  Become friends with people who are completely different than you.  Let yourself be transformed by these two years!”

— “No matter your area of academic or professional interest here at Sloan, there is almost guaranteed to be a student-run conference in your field. It’s the most incredible opportunity for students to gain expertise in a practical setting as well as make the connections that will get you started or advanced in your industry. Whether your role is in finance, marketing, strategy or operations, taking on that job for a conference will supplement and go far beyond what you could ever learn in the classroom. You will devote countless hours, but the payoff when the stage is all packed up and you can look back on the incredible work that you’ve done will be a highlight of your time at Sloan.”

–“Set a small number of goals for your time at Sloan, and stick to them. There’s so much to do once you get here – amazing classes to take, interesting clubs to lead, international trips to go on – and it can be difficult to prioritize. You’ll need to turn down opportunities that seem fun but would take away time from the activities that are truly meaningful to you, and being thoughtful about your goals is a good way to think about what those priorities should be.”

–“When you arrive on campus, there are a lot of things happening at once. You’ll want to do them all. You will try to do them all. You’ll realize that you can’t do them all. You’ll pull back and do what you want, need and love. And that’s all part of the learning process. My best advice for Sloanies:  Get involved in three clubs, an industry specific, a role specific and a passion specific (for me that was Tech Club, Sales/Business Club and the Vintners Club).”

Harriet Barnett

Harriet Barnett has worked at MIT Sloan for forty years in many different roles. Her current title is Admissions Advisor.


  1. Ramesh Krishnan

    That is so true of the Sloan experience! Look forward to being in Sloan in 2016.

  2. Youth, energy, beauty, happiness on their faces! Success to you guys!

  3. What an incredibly inspiring post! Thanks for sharing!

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