If you see your MBA path as a solo endeavor – think again! You will have group work during orientation, group assignments during classes, and groups you seek out for your own study sessions. B-school is nothing if not a social endeavor in managing behaviors, building relationships, and negotiating ideas for assignments.
I happen to be fortunate enough to have a really great MBA core team. And I’ve been equally lucky to have sought out some great study partners outside of my core team as well. This past weekend, we completed the Internal Case Competition — another opportunity to work closely with a great team. I’ve developed some observations based my experiences with my teams this year, and I thought I would pass those along to all of those prospective students who are trying to get a better idea of what B-school is all about.
1) Come prepared. Our best meetings occur when everyone has some idea of what’s going on. This doesn’t mean you have to have all of the answers – but at least be able to ask intelligent questions.
2) Humility. I think one of the reasons that the teams I’ve been a part of have been so successful is that we are all willing to recognize we don’t have all the answers. I’m consistently amazed at how much my fellow students know. Always be willing to sit back and listen for a bit. It makes the conversations so much more interesting.
3) Challenge each other and be challenged. Respectfully. We all come from different backgrounds with different opinions and different knowledge, and we use that to make each other work harder and think further through the problem. Ask your team members about their opinions, share your own, and challenge each other to think even more deeply through problems and assignments.
4) Work through things together. Take your time. Plan accordingly. If you have a difficult assignment, find a room, shut the door, and start from scratch. Each student brings a lot individually – you will be amazed at what you can accomplish together.
5) Enjoy yourself! Laugh. Make goofy jokes. It’s worth the extra time and it will help you bond with your team.
Get ready for lots of work with other people. It can be intimidating to try to do all of this school work with a group of people you don’t know. But if you approach the group work with an open mind and a desire to learn, you will find that your team based work has a huge, positive impact on your MBA experience.