On Friday our 5 day orientation came to a close with a final dinner. Here's a recap of the activities that went on during those 5 days:
On the first day we had our kickoff dinner, a time for the members of the class of 2010 to meet each other while the assistant dean tells us all how great we are. In our class we have someone from the Counter Terrorist Unit (that's right...the same CTU that employs Jack Bauer), a couple of Chinese diplomats, and a Bangladeshi pop star to name a few. I have to admit, after hearing the list of some of my classmate's accomplishments, I felt rather average. There was one statistic that rather surprised me, namely the fact that our class is only 19% international. Two years ago Carlson's Full Time MBA class was 40% international and last year's class was around 30% international. I wonder why there was such a drop this year...
During the day the MBA office staff introduced themselves and we were given an introduction to the case method of teaching. I found the "mini-case" class thoroughly enjoyable and I'm definitely looking forward to participating in such classes in the future. In the afternoon we all headed over to Camp Iduhapi for some team building exercises. I had a good time despite the fact I HATE the outdoors or anything that remotely resembles camping and that the activities the camp leaders made us do were kind of cheesy. Near the end of the day, we all split up into groups and did various activities that involved being strapped into harnesses and cavorting 30 feet above the ground. While other groups got to climb a huge wall or jump off of a pole, my group was stuck doing some lame trust exercise in which we had to lean on each other in order to cross a set of tightropes. Oh well, sometimes you just get the short end of the stick. After the camp outing the class all met at a nearby pub for drinks and appetizers.
On this day we stayed indoors and were lectured to about personality types and critical thinking for half of the day. The first half of the day was quite boring, but during the second half a group of improv actors came in to talk to us about communication. The main presenter was freaking hilarious and he definitely woke the class up a bit. After that we broke up into groups and completed a team exercise in which we were to pretend that we were stranded somewhere in the Canadian arctic with only 15 items. We were all briefed on the situation and then were made to rank the 15 items from most to least important as a group. I basically learned that if I were stuck out in the wilderness, I would most likely die a horrible death. After that we had a nice little class on business meal etiquette.
The day started with an introduction to the MBAA (MBA Association) and a couple of writing classes, then moved on to the introduction to the Core Class professors. They all went on to introduce themselves and assure us that we all had made an excellent investment decision by deciding to attend Carlson. I found this interesting because I had just read an article written by a professor here at Carlson concerning fading optimism in products (you can download it here). The basic gist of the article is that if a consumer buys a product that is to be delivered later, the consumer's optimism about the product's performance declines as the date of delivery nears. Right after the purchase, the consumer is more optimistic about the product because he wants to reassure himself that he has made the right choice. As the product's delivery date approaches, the consumer lowers his optimism in the product in order to not "get his hopes up" in case the product does not perform as he expected it to. One of the obvious applications of this research would be for companies to reassure customers shortly before the delivery of a product. Were the professors here at this school employing this technique on us? I guess it would make sense for Carlson professors to utilize research that came out of the Carlson school.
After the lunch break, we were broken up into different groups and given a case for a mini-case competition. We were given 10 hours to read the case, perform analyses, and put together a presentation to be delivered the next morning. This was a tremendous learning experience, as I had never participated in anything like this before. I left at the end of the day (11pm) simply exhausted.
In the morning all the teams gave their presentations and in the afternoon the best 4 presented for the whole class. My team wasn't selected to be in the final 4, but it was still a good learning experience nonetheless. I found that I have a lot to learn from my classmates when it comes to the business world. Although I have a degree in Finance, I received it almost 3 years ago and went into a non-business field after graduating. I was rather impressed by the presentation skills displayed by the top 4 groups. I've never given a formal "professional" presentation, so I can definitely gain from sharing a classroom with these people.
After the best 4 groups gave their presentations we had a break and came back for the closing dinner. Again, we were all told how wonderful we are while being treated to a mediocre dinner.
All in all, I would say that the orientation was a positive experience. It really opened my eyes as to what to expect in the next 2 years. If these 5 days were any indicator, I should be a better person after completing the MBA, and that's all you can really ask for from an education. Well......that and a better job.