Tag: first year MBA

The first year MBAs have arrived! GO Week orientation is officially underway. Students gathered in the Atrium after their first day of introductory classes to meet and greet each other. Class t-shirts and Olin-branded back packs were distributed to the enthusiastic, fresh faces ready to begin their business school journey. Welcome to all – we can’t wait to get to know you – and wish you all the best as the newest members of the Olin community.

I’ve almost come to the point where I feel guilty relaxing to watch some Netflix because that just means I’m procrastinating on something for school… even if I don’t know what it is. In my first post on the “First-Year MBA” series in August, I mentioned spending 12-hour days in Bauer Hall.

If anything that average has gone up during September. The crazy part is, I never had more than 3 hours of class in one day, and we don’t even have class on Fridays anymore!


Consulting Platform industry session with a representative from Emerson.

I’m quickly learning the first-year MBA experience is defined just as much by the time you spend outside the classroom.

The biggest change from August, when we were in the Gateway: Olin! (GO!) orientation program and the first few weeks of class, was the start of what Olin calls “platform industry seminars.” So let me back up. The Olin MBA allows you to choose an optional focus from five different industry areas:

In order to allow first-year students to explore and learn about these areas, give them a better idea of real jobs and roles, and introduce them to industry professionals, each platform schedules a series of speakers. The best part is none of these sessions overlap with classes or each other, and you are encouraged to attend as many as you like.

I focused on the marketing sessions, but I’ve explored sessions from each platform. I’ve heard from executives in companies from Expedia.com, Booz/Allen/Hamilton, McKinsey, Boeing, Accenture, Nestle Purina, Emerson, Viacom and more. The chance to get an on-the-ground perspective from so many diverse companies in an industry and then meet them in the networking reception afterwards is invaluable. Yes, these sessions took up a huge chunk of my afternoons, but they were always worth it.

Students line up to meet recruiters at a Meet the Firms event.

Students line up to meet recruiters at a Meet the Firms event.

Before I knew it, we were halfway through September, meaning it was time for the first of two Meet the Firms career fairs. This is great if you know exactly what you want to do and have lots of free time to research and target all the firms you’re interested in. But if you’re like me and your career ambitions are fuzzy at best, and you are swamped with homework and group projects, it’s a pretty daunting event to prepare for barely one month into your MBA program.

Unfortunately, internship application deadlines wait for no one. Deadlines at the best firms are as soon as early fall and Meet the Firms is an important precursor for both students and the companies to get to know each other. So I wrote out my target list, grabbed my new padfolio and WashU business cards, threw on my suit, and had some great conversations with a slew of different companies. Out of about 22 firms I talked with over the two Meet the Firms events in back-to-back weeks, I would say four really stood out. Hey, it only takes one, right?

The rest of September was a challenging, exciting, and exhausting blur. My class continued to bond outside the classroom through stuff like our Cardinals baseball game outing. It was particularly fun for a lifelong fan like me to introduce so many new people to the Cardinals and baseball in general. (I even organized a Baseball 101 session for some of the curious international students).

Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.

Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.

Also, now that the second-year MBAs have returned to Olin from their summer internships, we’ve enjoyed getting to know them, too. They introduced us to Olin’s impressive assortment of over 30 full-time MBA clubs, associations and other extra-curricular groups that are now in full swing again. Applications for case competitions, elections for student government, club leadership positions and random conferences on topics like sports business offer endless opportunities. I wanted to be really careful about getting over-committed (as was my tendency in undergrad), but I’m really excited to get involved with programs like InSITE Fellowship, PepsiCo Case Competition, Net Impact, and the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Association.

And, of course, between all those opportunities, career fairs and platform industry sessions, the heavy load of classwork and late nights at Bauer Hall continued. As September ended, we wrapped up our first “Mini A” half of the semester and had final exams for two classes. But if there’s one thing I learned from my second month of the MBA program, it’s that the learning extends far beyond the classroom. So make the most of it.

This piece is one of a series that chronicles Cole’s first-year MBA experience at Olin Business School. Cole says he hopes these posts can offer a valuable, genuine student perspective of life at Olin. Stay tuned later this month for a post on Cole’s pre-MBA travel adventures with Switchback Kids

First-year MBA selfie

I was driving to school for the first time in over four years. But this time felt different. My mom used to take my ever-embarrassing first-day-of-school picture. We still jokingly honored the tradition, but this time the photographer was my wife. As usual, there was a little nagging feeling of apprehension: Where do I park? Do I have all the right books? But there was a new feeling of intense purpose. If I was about to press pause on my career and invest two years to get an MBA, I was going to make the most out of it.

Cole Donelson, First-year Olin MBA student

We honored the tradition of back-to-school pictures, but now the photographer is my wife.

When I applied to Olin eight months earlier, the application emphasized that the small class size allowed the faculty and the students to really get to know each person’s story. My story is that I grew up in St. Louis and went to the University of Missouri to earn degrees in Business and Journalism. I moved to Kansas City and advanced through a few roles at a healthcare IT company over three years. Then my wife and I decided to chase a crazy dream of creating a travel blog (SwitchbackKids.com) and visiting all 59 National Parks across the U.S. in one year. Throughout it all, I always intended to go back to school and get my MBA. Now was my chance to start that new journey.

Over the first month of my first year of the Olin full-time MBA program, any lingering doubts about my investment in further education or my choice of school quickly evaporated.

That first day of school on August 3rd was actually the first day of the eight-day GO! (Gateway: Olin) program. I thought of it as an extended orientation, but I quickly realized that wasn’t giving it enough credit. We started two classes about critical thinking and leadership in teams to lay the groundwork for our next two years. We heard guest speakers on topics like personal branding and the challenges of urban communities in St. Louis. We were also spoiled with provided breakfast and lunch every day (one of my favorite parts)!

We got familiar with the Weston Career Center and its advisors, the online job search resources, and the five MBA platforms: finance, consulting, operations and supply chain, marketing and entrepreneurship.

Most importantly, we had plenty of networking and social outings to get to know our classmates. There were 132 people, and by the end of GO! I already knew most people’s names. The breadth of backgrounds, career experiences, and future goals were truly impressive. And, just like me, each person had their own unique story.

Cole Donelson, first-year MBA student, in Frick Forum.

The most anticipated day of GO! for me was when our core team assignments were unveiled—groups of five that did all class group assignments together throughout the semester. The groups were purposefully made as diverse as possible. My group definitely seemed to reflect that. With our different backgrounds, nationalities, and career paths, we all brought something different to the table. The diversity combined with common drive immediately proved helpful as we developed and presented solutions to the real-life business case offered by a recent graduate’s startup.

August 15th started our first week of regularly scheduled classes. Financial Accounting, Management and Strategy, and Managerial Economics were added to the list of two classes from GO!

Everyone takes the same core classes in our first semester before getting wide freedom to choose electives. As a business undergrad, I had studied several of the topics before, but I found the material was far from review.

Lessons were interwoven with real business world cases. Homework started fast and furious. And professors were both intensely challenging and always available.

Olin was quickly becoming my new home both emotionally and physically—between studying, attending alumni networking events or working on group projects, I often have 12-hour days in Bauer Hall.

A month ago I was returning from a year of camping and hiking where every decision and challenge was up to me. Now, I’m starting a program that I’m already finding pushes my limits and tests my thinking. My pace of life and learning has accelerated dramatically over the past month. Both my classes and classmates have lots to teach me. I’m energized by the thought of the endless opportunities. I know I’m in the right place. There’s no doubt.

This piece is one of a series that chronicles Cole’s first-year MBA experience at Olin Business School. Cole says he hopes these posts can offer a valuable, genuine student perspective of life at Olin. Be sure to check out Cole’s travel adventures on Switchback Kids

My name is Alexander Faught.  I am a first year MBA, and this is my first Olin blog post.  I would like to use this opportunity to write about my Mini-A session (Olin’s quarter system equivalent).

As break came to an end and I began preparing myself for round two of the spring semester, it was hard not to reflect on my time at Olin.

After successfully completing “the core” in the fall, I was able to explore many academic and professional interests through Olin’s plethora of course offerings, with classes ranging from effective communication to database marketing and entrepreneurship to industry analysis.  Despite approaching these choices with an open mind, I inevitably gravitated toward a concentration in finance, as my course selection shows: advanced accounting, corporate finance, economics, and modeling made up the brunt of my workload.

MBA and SMP students on the Omaha, Nebraska trip to meet with Warren Buffett.

The six-week period was action packed both inside and outside of the classroom.  Some of the highlights included:

– Participating in case discussions analyzing the accounting, economic, and financial principles behind various events involving Berkshire Hathaway, Brown-Forman, GE, Gillette, Marriott, and Nintendo (among others);

-Creating models and running simulations on airline reservations and pricing, option values, mortgage decisions, and optimal plant production;

-Attending a guest corporate finance lecture given by two Monsanto M&A experts, focusing on the practical application of valuation theory (specifically regarding industry discounted cash flow techniques);

-Visiting Berkshire Hathaway’s headquarters, touring some of its portfolio business, and meeting Warren Buffett on an Olin-sponsored trip to Omaha, NE (yes, I shook the Oracle’s hand!);

-Entering my first case competition, and valuing a private business through the ACG Cup; and

-Interviewing with several firms and finding the right match for this upcoming summer (interning in an investment research capacity).

Although it is hard to imagine a better session, I am sure the next six weeks will render many more noteworthy experiences…

Finance photo by Tax Credits on Flickr