8 Pieces of Wisdom: Advice to Incoming EMBAs on Their First Day


The Berkeley EMBA class of 2016 on their first dayThe Berkeley MBA for Executives class of 2016 has started school and was greeted by, among other folks, members of the preceding classes, who stopped by to share their top pieces of wisdom.

From why goofing off actually adds value to what's more important than your GPA, our thanks to Alec Randall, EMBA 14, and to EMBA 15s Shruti Nathan, Jay Srinivasan, and Richard Wilson for passing along what they've learned:

1. Set expectations about your availability to friends and family. 

"Remind them that this is a significant commitment and that you will be temporarily less available," says Alec (Of course, also remind them how highly you value them.)

2. On the other hand, make them part of the mix. 

The Berkeley EMBA experience is more fun when it's shared with loved ones—from tailgate parties and football games to off-hours fun during field immersions.

3.  Be open and honest at work.

"I gave a copy of my school schedule to everyone I work with, so we avoided any last-minute panic before I was about to leave for block," says Shruti. Be transparent about the fact that you're out of the office more, agrees Alec. "You are bringing back plenty of value in return." And you're "setting an example for personal and professional development," says Jay.

4. Having fun does not mean you're wasting time. 

"All those times our study group sort of seemed to be goofing off together turned out to be useful," says Alec, noting that that's when strong relationships were forged. Life will happen, and at any given time individuals in a study group will be more and less able to step up, notes Richard. "When you're bonded, you don't mind being flexible and helping out your classmates. Someone will no doubt do it for you at some point."

5. It's what you learn.

Don't focus on grades, focus on what you're putting into the experience, so that what you get out moves you toward your goals. "If you do this, grades will take care of themselves," says Richard.

6. Show up for opportunities. 

"You will feel stretched beyond your limits, but take advantage of everything you can while you're here," says Richard. "That includes making time to see your classmates between blocks," says Shruti.

7. And make your own.

"Take something that interests you, grab a few classmates, and lead an adventure," says Alec, whose class trekked to Tesla, Amazon, LinkedIn, and Wall Street. "I wish I'd thought about these adventures from Day 1, so I could have had more of them."

8. Be selective with your energy and attention.

While you come to b-school for a solid foundation in all the business fundamentals, the reality is that you may need or care about some subjects and skills more than others. That's OK, says Shruti. "Pick the ones you are most passionate about or those that are most in line with your goals, and give those your all; someone else in your study group will pick up the slack on the others and you'll do the same down the line."

Berkeley Executive MBA students share their wisdom with the incoming class.

Members of the incoming class work as pilots and pediatric surgeons and for companies from Amazon and Genentech to Twitter and Benioff Children's Hospital. About a third commute from outside the Bay Area, including one student who is commuting from China.

Learn more about the Berkeley MBA for Executives class of 2016 and its opening days of school in Haas Newswire.

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About The Author

Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.