Streamlining: Not just for swimmers

Claire Huang, BSBA ’23, wrote this for the Olin Blog. She is majoring in finance and economics and strategy and minoring in data analytics.

When a swimmer dives into the water, their arms automatically join together in front of them, forming a hydrodynamic point meant to maximize momentum and minimize drag. This is a streamline, a technique I have practiced many times during my 14 years as a competitive swimmer.

Although I no longer swim, I am now a first-year at WashU, and I believe we could all do well to follow the swimmer’s lead and implement streamlining in our daily lives. As a first-year, it is especially easy to get overwhelmed with clubs, activities and academics. It gets to the point where covering all of your bases can feel like playing a game of Twister.

Streamlining at school can be a great way to maximize our time and energy while minimizing unnecessary commitments to focus on what matters to each of us.

Identifying key values

My first step to streamlining my WashU experience was to create a list of my commitments—everything from classes to clubs to sports teams. I had a lot to write down. I am one of those students who grabbed every flyer from the Mudd Activity Fair and signed up for any club I found even remotely interesting.

After creating my list, I needed to identify my key values. I started by thinking about what I hoped to gain from my college experience. I knew I wanted to prioritize academics, but also explore as many professional opportunities as possible. While widening my social and personal network was also important, I felt that was a natural process that became secondary to my two primary goals.

Paring things down—streamlining

Finally, using the values I identified, I evaluated my list of activities and decided which to keep and which to drop. I chose to keep plenty of professional development extracurriculars, including Phi Gamma Nu, a professional business fraternity; Arch Consulting, a case competition team; and Bear Studios, a student-run consulting firm.

In particular, Bear Studios appealed to me as it provided an amazing opportunity to implement the strategic business development concepts I learned in management 100 to real-life client projects ​and ​receive compensation for my work. Bear Studios occupies a unique place in my life at the intersection of both my academic and professional goals.

Looking back, I’m thankful I was able to streamline my interests so quickly as a first-year. It saved me time so I could pursue what mattered most.

In turn, I am more satisfied with my day-to-day work. I have more energy to pursue my goals and more momentum that propels me to achieve them. However, this isn’t to say I’ve completely decluttered my life. I still look for ways to streamline, out of the pool and in my new school.

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