To the Class of 2018: Prepare for the Extraordinary

Most of you won’t get the chance to know me unless you choose to listen to “The Business of Being Awesome” podcast I started with a fellow Sloanie (highly encouraged) or choose to reach out to me for alumni networking purposes (happy to connect). But in hopes of having you get to know me in some way that’s useful to you in your current circumstances–deciding whether to attend Sloan–I wanted to tell you how I spent my yesterday:

  • I caught up on like 40 emails scheduling hangouts with classmates before graduation (incredibly enough, that’s 5% of the entire MBA program). Some of these dates are with people I know well. Some are with people I don’t know as well and hope to get to know better. All of them are people I’m really excited to meet with one-on-one.
  • I took a workout class taught by second-year friend of mine who recently got her Zumba teaching certification (#sloanieshelpingsloanies become coordinated). I know I’ve reached a certain level of closeness with people here when someone can get me to dance to reggaeton in broad daylight and total sobriety.
  • I heard an incredible speaker at an Afternoon Tea event with Sloan Women in Managment discussing how her relationships with Sloan women supported her as she rose in her career the last 14 years since her MBA.
  • I stopped by a neighborhood MBA patio party with abundant wine and cheese, two great dogs, and even greater classmate company. I note that at patio party, I was still wearing my sweaty workout clothes from the Zumba class. One or the many things I love about this community? No one judged how I looked–they just complimented me on my rainbow sneakers.
  • I spent the evening at a Sloan reception at my favorite venue in Boston with some of my closest friends in the class of 2016. Even without the open bar and plenty of music, I’d have felt high on life.

When I attended Sloan’s AdMIT weekend in April 2014, I left most of the events exhausted, anxious, and frankly, a little skeptical. About the 2nd- and 1st-year students I met, I wondered, “Will I ever feel as excited about this place as they do?” About my fellow 2016 admitted students, I wondered: “Am I really going to become friends with these people for the rest of my life, let alone for the next two years?”About the MBA, I wondered, “What on earth am I getting into?”

Two years later, I’m trying to distract myself from the thought that my days and nights like these, surrounded by people like this, are numbered. If you told me as an AdMIT that I’d feel the way I do now about this place, this program, and these people, I never would have believed you.

If you’re still deciding or already decided on Sloan, I want you to know my yesterday was far from atypical: in the context of my MBA experience at MIT, this extraordinary day was an ordinary one. Every day, you can learn something from your peers, whether it’s financial modeling or Latin dancing. Every day, you can find support for your dreams here, so long as you have the courage to share them with others. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there will be times where you will feel stressed completing homework or contemplating your career, but every day, you can take comfort in the fact that you will not be alone in anything you’re going through and, in opening up to people about how you’re feeling, will find solidarity unlike any you’ve ever experienced.

By virtue of your admission to the Class of 2018, as a member of the Class of 2016, I have to return to the real world and make space here for you to begin creating your MBA memories. The choice is yours, but I hope you’ll choose to make those memories at Sloan.

If you do, prepare for the extraordinary to become your ordinary.

Erica Zendell

Erica Zendell is a MBA Candidate in the MIT Sloan Class of 2016. A former HBS case writer and researcher of contemporary China, she aspires to work as a Product Manager at the crossroads of the real and digital worlds of retail. When not hitting the books, she hosts a podcast with a classmate called "The Business of Being Awesome" focused on inspiring MBAs to find work they love after business school, even if it means going off the beaten path (

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  1. Great Article Erica!!!

  2. Very powerful! Thank you for sharing your experience!

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