Sloan’s Master of Finance: Making the Most of your Experience

Hi there! Thank you for stopping by to take a glance (for better or for worse) at this mild attempt of a constructive blog post!

I really can’t believe it has almost been a year since grad school started for me. I still remember how antsy, thrilled, invigorated, scared, stressed, happy and every other imaginable feeling I felt back then. Time quite literally goes by within the blink of an eye, and before you know it, you’re writing a post about how it all ended too quick.

If you’re reading this, it may be so that you’re considering applying to grad school. It may also very well be that you’re already enrolled and eager to start your experience. Whatever it may be, the prospect of undertaking a rigorous and challenging program like Sloan’s MFin can be very exhilarating so I propose to you some small and simple hacks (tips) on how to make this experience beyond great. Now, these recommendations can seem very obvious to most, but in my eyes (just my two cents) they’re oftentimes neglected and can make a big difference in the quality of one’s journey.

Plan Ahead & Be Prepared:

Either if you are entering grad school as a career switcher, to specialize in a particular field or as an exploratory adventure, it is very important to do some due diligence: Delving into the core requirements of the program, the restricted electives, the course content, the required background and preparing yourself to be well-equipped to start the program is highly recommended. Make sure to try to close any knowledge gaps and to dig into the syllabus of the courses to get an understanding of what you will be covering. Once you’ve started the program, plan ahead your study time and set realistic goals for your development as a student.

Be Open:

One of the best things about being part of the MFin program is the diversity of the student body. You will encounter people with very different academic backgrounds ranging from philosophy to computer science to aeronautics; your classmates (and hopefully best buddies) will be from a wide array of diverse ethnic backgrounds, cultures and ways of thinking. Being open to sharing, embracing and learning from others will give you a newfound perspective about finance and life. Be proactive about interacting with your fellow classmates and going beyond your comfort zone, it does pay off.

Know your Resources:

If you’re struggling with something, there is going to be a resource for you to utilize. If you want to do an extracurricular activity, there are going to be resources available. If you want to form an a cappella cosplay K-pop group, there are going to be other students looking to as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to know all the hacks in the school? Navigating through the connecting bridges and tunnels within MIT buildings, getting your own student locker in the Sloan main building, using the free 2:00 A.M. shuttle to take you home anywhere in Cambridge, getting almost every book there is via e-books, eating on campus for free every day (we don’t officially condone this), getting free furniture in the MIT Furniture exchange, etc., etc., etc. While there is no official playbook on all these things (for the moment), I’d advise you to research and find out about the unlimited universe of resources. Hint: Mingle with the undergrads… they’ve been around… they know things…

Learn to prioritize:

And to live with the fact that you won’t be able to do all of your hungry desires and ambitions. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing as you might get overwhelmed by everything that is going on at MIT. You’ll hear from student A that is taking class X at Sloan, student B that is taking a Course 6 class and student C that is taking class Z at Harvard. You will have world class conferences, breathtaking events and industry-leader speakers virtually every single week at Sloan. Couple that with club events, social activities, extracurriculars, plus all the things the MIT campus has to offer and you might easily feel overwhelmed by it all. My advice is to learn to let go: Understand that given the intensity of the program and your limited time as an MFin, you have to focus on a select group of activities. Being able to cope with this will be crucial as it will make for the best use of your time.

Seek guidance:

The faculty and the staff are here to help! Don’t keep it to yourself! Go to office hours, speak to the professors outside of class, reach out to the TAs, pair up with a mentor through the various mentorship programs, schedule one on one meetings at the Career Development Office and/or have a sit down with the academic advisors. Whatever it is that you’re dealing with, someone can help. I have found that keeping your struggles to yourself due to pride or desire to hide vulnerability is a grave mistake. We can all grow stronger if we open up about our weaknesses and how we can lean on others to make us better human beings. Sloan is a school characterized by the prevalent collaborative environment. Your fellow classmates are your most valuable asset. Make sure to share and open up with your class as well as being willing to serve as support for others.

Breathe:

It is often joked around that you can only choose two out of three: Study, Sleep or Social Life. I say have all three and eat the cake while you’re at it too. Make sure to take the time to rest, breathe and take care of yourself both mentally, emotionally and physically. In pursuing excellence, keep in check that your health and well-being should always be your main priority. Exercise, get good sleep, socialize, go out, and most importantly have fun. Have your life perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Take breaks when warranted and partake in as many “festivities” as your schedule can accommodate.

Godspeed and party on!

 

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