How to prep for your MBA (aka Your Best Summer Yet)

You’ve probably spent the past few months writing essays, flying to interviews, staring at your inbox, maybe even screaming excitedly into your phone (or was that just me?). Finally, it’s starting to come together: you’ve accepted your spot in MIT Sloan’s MBA program!

What’s next? As you get ready for your MBA, I strongly encourage you to: 1) think about where you want to focus, 2) refresh your network, and 3) get in your growth mindset.

“On your mark…”: find your focus

One of the most helpful things you can do before you get here is dedicate energy to self-reflection. You probably did quite a bit of this during your application process, and now is a great time to turn those abstract plans into concrete goals. How do you want to spend your time while at Sloan? What are your can’t-miss events, clubs, courses, professors? You’re much less likely to feel overwhelmed during core semester if you come in with a strong sense of your niche.

Set the stage for introspection by taking time away from work (as much as you can!), or getting out of your normal routine. Many students choose to travel. If you’re not sure where to go, or want to go with a group, make sure you’ve signed up for a Pre-f(x) trip – where second years lead 15 to 20 first years on awesome trips to domestic and international destinations! Here’s picture proof of my trip to Lisbon:

MIT Sloan in Portugal!

“…get set…”: find your people 

Everyone talks about business school as a time for network-building, but don’t miss the opportunity to make connections before you arrive on campus. You’ll quickly find that people are incredibly willing to talk to students! If you plan to stay in your industry, take your last days of work to catch up with as many colleagues as you can. They’ll be great resources when you are searching for an internship or full-time role.

If you’re targeting a career switch, start researching NOW to understand what it will take. Connect with other incoming Sloanies and reach out to alums, and start to figure out your recruiting strategy. Whether you are looking to move to a new country or return to your hometown, and whether you want to found your own startup or join a multinational firm, you will benefit from a broad personal network.

“…go!”: find your courage 

Everyone also talks about how business school is an amazing time for personal growth and learning. What they often skip over is how hard it can be to get into the right mindset: you likely spent the last few years excelling at your job, you may have even started feeling bored at work, and now, you’re expected to instantly switch into accelerated learning mode. It can be tough and uncomfortable, especially in the context of Sloan’s rigorous core curriculum, but you can give yourself a head start by flexing your growth mindset.

What’s a growth mindset? You’ll hear more during Orientation, but the foundation is that people who believe intelligence can be developed, end up achieving more (while those who believe intelligence is pre-determined, eventually plateau). Start saying “yes” and “I’ll try” to new things – whether it’s a ballroom dance class, or an entirely new cuisine.

Also start saying “no” to what doesn’t serve your goals and development. It probably feels unnatural, especially if you’re the type of selfless leader that’s drawn to Sloan, but some degree of selfishness will help you get through your first semester. It will help you prioritize sleep over club meetings (if that’s what’s important to you), or networking over homework (again, if that’s what’s important to you). There will always be more things you want to do than you have time for during your MBA, but if you come in with 1) a renewed focus, 2) a strengthened network, and 3) a forward-looking attitude, you’re going to get the most out of your first semester!

Let me know what you think in the comments ⬇

3 Comments

  1. Do Hyeon Chung

    Thank you for such informative tips!
    I think, in terms of having growth mindset, it would also be helpful to do some prep work on some of the quantitative courses such as finance or accounting especially for porspective studnets who are not from financial industry like myself.
    Any comments or suggestuons on this?

    • Great question! First, I’d emphasize that incoming Sloan MBAs are not expected to have any background in finance or accounting – in the Class of 2020, only 20% of students were undergraduate business majors. The intellectual abilities you demonstrated through your application process will get you off to a strong start in the classroom. Note that Managerial Finance, our intro finance course, is not part of the required core, though many students take it during their first year (and still others can take a test to waive the course).

      Second, our core “quantitative” courses are designed to welcome first-time students of accounting, economics, and statistics, while also providing new perspectives to those who already have a background. It’s a tough balance, but I think our professors do it extraordinarily well!

      Finally, Sloan provides admitted students with MIT-created self-paced learning options. This includes online courses in economics, accounting, and calculus, as well as some pre-orientation lecture webcasts. I think the online courses might be pre-matriculation requirements for some students, but I’m not familiar with the details – I encourage you to reach out to the Admissions Office if you’re unsure about your situation.

  2. OMG such a wonderful post . Nice tips from you may help me too. Your blogs are improving my mindset.

  3. Pingback: MBA Class of 2020 | MIT Sloan School of Management

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