Author: Adam Hickey


About Adam Hickey

I'm a member of PMBA Class 38, the best class since PMBA Class 37. When I'm not at Olin, I spend most of my time at Cannonball Advertising, where I've worked on diverse clients like Pinnacle Entertainment, SeaWorld Entertainment and Schwan's Frozen Pizzas. While I love my job, I also enjoy reading (favorite book: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett), local beer (favorite brewery: Urban Chestnut), and eating out (currently crushing on Taste by Niche). Follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @adamchickey.

One minute. That’s the time that it took me to register for classes this week. And while that might seem a little extreme and dramatic, it’s a necessary approach to getting into the classes I want. Anything more than a minute and you are most definitely wait-listed or never getting in all together.

How is that possible, one might ask? Well, there are a lot of students and limited seats. And when classes fill up in 45 seconds (yes, that happened), planning and constantly pressing refresh between 7:25 and 7:30 a.m. are the only way around that.

With that, let me give you some tips and tricks on how to win the bull race on registration morning:

  • Create a schedule ahead of time: Again, this seems like a given but I know students that have waited until the morning of registration to really dig deep into the class offerings. They learned the hard way that waiting is a losing approach. So, don’t be a loser and spend time looking through the listing of classes, figuring out what days and times work for you, and making a schedule.
  • Attend the advising sessions: I found this particularly helpful the first semester that I had to register since the program director (the infamous Jan Snow) not only has several class recommendations but can answer any questions you have related to graduation requirements. As an FYI, a PMBA student needs 54 credit hours to graduate.
  • Use the registration worksheet: If you’re not using this, you’re doing registration wrong. To the point that I’ve included a screenshot below so that you know where to find the worksheet and what it looks like.
    Registration Worksheet. The answer to all your registration problems.

    Registration Worksheet. The answer to all your registration problems.

    What it does is allow you to bookmark classes while you’re working on the first bullet of this post (ha!) that will automatically populate in the registration tab the morning of registration. From there, all you do is go down the list and click “add course.” Boom! You register in a minute.

As a side note, I registered for my last semester this week and I couldn’t be happier. The first reason is to cross “Get an MBA” off my life to-do list. The second is to never have to stress about registration again.

Image: computer laptop keyboard HP Pavilion Entertainment PC, Carissa Rogers, Flickr Creative Commons

Dear PMBA 40,

Well, the time has come. You’re starting your journey towards an MBA, which is the end of a journey itself. You’re past thinking about getting an MBA, studying for the GMAT, applying to schools, and stressing over whether or not you’ll get in. Congratulations! But it’s just the beginning…

As a PMBA’er who has a year under his belt, I thought I would impart some tidbits I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Get to know your fellow classmates – They mention this all over Olin, and they’re right, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you graduate and don’t know every person in your PMBA class. These are the future businessmen and women who might be your client, boss, co-worker, or connection for that job you’ve always wanted. Olin graduates are going places and it’s in your best interest to hop on that bandwagon. Here are two easy ways to do that:
  • Go to After Dark – At least for the first six months. I understand that it’s easy to go home and crash after a full day of work and three hours of class but the informal setting is a catalyst for building friendships that will keep you sane during grad school. Yay for new friends!
  • Start a WhatsApp/GroupMe Convo – This will help your class stay connected throughout the grind. You’ll use it to discuss homework, make plans, study for tests, and overall relieve stress. Trust me, there’s a comfort knowing that 65 other people can relate to your situation. You’re also in for a humorous Saturday morning read when you wake up to 150+ notifications from your new friends going out the night before.
  • Know Your Strengths – For most of your core classes, you will be working in groups, which you’ll dread love. Figuring out what each person is good at at the beginning of group work will make the whole process of working together run smoothly. I’m not a numbers person but I can write, hence why I was the resident editor who provided colorful commentary whenever we were doing statistics homework.
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Things – It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, whether that’s the one question on your group homework that you couldn’t crack, or the case that you just didn’t understand (I’m looking at you, Finance). Take a deep breath and know that it’s not going to make or break you or your grade. You’re already juggling a lot – the additional stress isn’t worth it.

There are other class-related tips that I’d be more than happy to impart but those are better suited over a beer at After Dark. I’ll see you there.

Image: Lecture Hall, Kai Schreiber, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s no secret that grad school is no cake walk (I’ve hinted at this here). And while recruiters, alumni, and current students are quick to tell you how much work grad school is going to be (even though they never communicate it accurately), they fail to mention everything that you’re going to miss.

Sure, the list of activities I’m going to list below will vary based on everyone’s interests but they can boil down to one essential concept: free time. No matter what you do during your free time, the result of grad school is the same: less of it. With that said, here are some of the things that I deeply miss and can’t wait to take up again when I can finally put “MBA” next to my name:

  • Reading for pleasure: I’m an avid reader (I average approximately 25 books a year), but since the start of school, I’ve replaced New York Times Bestsellers with Harvard Business cases. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel, when I can trade exhibits and data for fictional escape but, until that time comes, all you can do is put your head down and soldier on.
  • Time with friends: Yes, weekends (for the most part) are still yours to play with but that’s essentially it. Between classes two nights a week, meeting with your group on group projects at least one, if not, two nights a week, and studying for those same classes, you can kiss your weekday evenings goodbye. Slowly but surely, the number of times friends asking you to go to a concert on Thursdays or grabbing a bite after work will dwindle down to none. The conversation tends to go like this: “Hey, do you want to … oh wait. You have school.” Sigh.
  • Cooking: I really enjoy cooking, even if it is just a chicken breast and some veggies. Until school started, I would come home after work and my kitchen would be full of the aromas of a satisfying meal to come. Thanks to the commitments outlined above, I’m lucky if I remember to grab a granola bar for class, or come home to a bowl of cereal. That Bon Appetit subscription is clearly going to waste …

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some things that you gain when you start grad school. It’s just that sometimes, you really miss what you lose.

How about you? What would be the biggest thing you would have to give up? Or did give up when you started grad school?

Image: Looking Back, Dr. Wendy Longo, Flickr Creative Commons

Weekend Bender [wiːkˈɛnd /ˈbɛndə/] noun: A three day, 1.5 credit hour class that takes place from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and noon – 3 p.m. on Sunday. Also known as the weekend from h***.

Alright, I’m being dramatic. Not only was my first (what I’m calling) “weekend bender” not bad, it was incredibly interesting and the sense of accomplishment when you walk out of class on Sunday is unparalleled in business school to date. Except maybe completing the Managerial Statistics final …

Even before you start business school, you’ll hear about “accelerating” in the info sessions, which means that you take more classes per semester than what’s required of you to complete the program in the allotted three years. Essentially, you set yourself up to finish sooner than anticipated.

There are many ways There is one way to do that and it’s by taking more classes. Your options are an increase in evening classes during the week (no, thank you – two evenings a week is enough), a week-long class (do they think I’m made out of PTO days?) or a “weekend bender.” These are the most popular because, as mentioned two paragraphs above, you can knock out 1.5 credits in three days (three days!!!!). As you might expect, these classes fill up quickly, so if you don’t register for them within a couple of hours (and I’m being generous) from when registration opens, then the odds of you getting in are slim.

Are they worth it? Absolutely! Let me repeat: 1.5 credits in three days. However, they don’t come without their caveats:

  • You have to prepare: For the particular class that I participated in this past weekend, we had close to 200 pages of case/article reading to do before the first day, followed by more reading between days. That’s a lot to juggle with work and your regular class load, so the week leading up to the class isn’t without its sacrifices.
  • The days can get long: Luckily for me, the class was not only interesting, it relied heavily on class participation, which means you stay engaged. Just remember to grab a coffee on your way back to class from lunch so that you don’t succumb to that early afternoon drowsiness. By day three, it’s more powerful than you think …
  • You have no weekend to recuperate: You know that weekend where you need an additional weekend to make up for it? Well, this is that type of weekend, except that instead of cursing your Mardi Gras decisions, you’re in a daze from 21 hours of class. But, you know what? It’s OK (1.5 credits in three days!!!).

As you can tell by now, I’m all for this type of format. I’m signed up for another “weekend bender” in April and I can’t wait to continue this pattern every semester moving forward. Seriously, the feeling that you’re that much closer to graduating is a high that will keep you soaring until you walk into Managerial Economics on Tuesday.

To my fellow PMBAs out there, any advice for how to survive this type of weekend? How would you approach the workload?

Image: Starbucks Addict, Spry, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s that time of year again: you’ve taken your holiday decorations down, you’re back at work after some much needed time off, and you’re preparing yourself and your house for the cold months ahead.

This year, I find myself gearing up for something new: my second semester in grad school. Having been off for the past four weeks, I’m a mixed bag of emotions:

  • Dread. As I’ve told my friends, I knew grad school was going to be a lot of work but it ended up being even more work than that. It’s with that knowledge that I’m going into this semester and I just want to curl up in a ball on my couch instead of holing up at Olin with study groups and homework assignments.
  • Restlessness. I’m a creature of habit and for 14 weeks, my routine included being regularly at Olin. In four weeks, I’ve travelled, I’ve been off work, and my routine has been thrown for a loop, so I’m chomping at the bit to get back at it.
  • Excitement. “Getting back at it” means that I’m that much closer to graduating and having an MBA degree under my belt. That makes me excited. I’m also thrilled to be reunited with my PMBA 38 peeps. While we’ve stayed in touch off and on during our break, it’s just not the same as sharing a drink during After Dark on Thursdays.

So, with that, here’s to a new year and the all the emotions it holds!

Image: Empty Seats, Benson Kua, Flickr Creative Commons

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