Last year, when I went to the session on choosing electives for second year, there was one class which consistently appeared on all the panelists’ (in this case the second year students of last year) list of must-take courses. A part of the Taking Action classes, this course brings back Darden grads (and some non Darden grads) to the classroom to take a class for the students and is called the General Managers Taking Action (GMTA). The case is supplied by the guest and we come prepared to discuss it with him. And since all the cases are real-life situations, and issues he/she faced, the discussion takes on a very action oriented path and we learn, literally, what he/she did in detail.
Today we had a 1986 grad who worked in investment banks come and talk to us. I was amazed by how “real” he was – we talked about the world economy and the banking industry and the housing bubble and BRIC among other things, and it was all in English and not banker-speak! I also thought this speaker was exciting because he was part of a firm that invested in Silicon Valley startups and technologies and his enthusiasm and appreciation for technology was very apparent. My favorite part of this class is the end, where two students ask the speaker for advice for our class and things he wished he knew when he was graduating. Today’s advice was “think big and then think small, do the little things, work hard because there is no fast and easy path. And don’t be in too much of a hurry.”
In my mind, there are two trends that are emerging from all the sessions I have had so far in this class: one, the higher up you get in an organization, the daily challenges and issues you deal with tend more on the OB and people management side of the spectrum (as opposed to the technical, spreadsheet model side); two, everyone talks about being in touch with the people we went to school with here… they wax eloquent about the intellectual pool in the school and some even talk about how the network is lifelong and helps them in professional and personal ways!
The more times I hear the second advice, the more I start to wonder if I am investing enough time and effort in building these relationships. I have come to realize that there are some fantastically interesting people here and I did not in the past and probably will not in the future have the opportunity to interact with such a diverse . There is so much personal growth I have witnessed from my associations here and I wonder how much of the iceberg I haven’t scaled yet. This year has been very different because there are people I haven’t seen all year – for reasons such as exchange programs or just taking a different set of electives. I go to a class with one of my learning team mates and I haven’t found the time to say hi in the three weeks we’ve been in that class together. There is a constant struggle to experience everything in these last few months, and yet this economy and my yet unsuccessful job search acts like the Sword of Damocles over everything I want to do. However, I feel better about it today because I am going to dinner with some friends I haven’t caught up with all year… I have to try to get more of these in before May.