Despite starting my MBA journey in the middle of a global pandemic, my first semester as an MBA student at the Wisconsin School of Business has exceeded expectations. As my technical career progressed into more business focused roles and leadership positions, I knew that an MBA was the right next step. I was excited about the specialization model at the Wisconsin School of Business, which would allow me to gain the broad business acumen necessary for my future career growth while building a foundation in brand and product management.
My first semester at UW has certainly delivered. The program kicked off with a semester of intense core classes, which covered a wide scope of topics. I have brushed up on statistics and probability, learned accounting principals for the first time, discussed team dynamics while poring over case studies, analyzed manufacturing processes, and contemplated how to define and implement a successful business strategy. I have spent many late nights working through complex calculations, and my bedside reading is now stacks of business case studies. The classes have been challenging, and in such a short amount of time I know that I have already grown my capabilities significantly. I find myself wondering how anyone runs a business organization without having gone through an MBA program. The core classes have ensured that every student has a basic understanding of all topics vital to business leadership. I know that I am much better prepared now to manage all kinds of teams.
It is satisfying to look back at a semester of core classes and feel accomplished. But there were many challenging times, and it is my cohort team that has given me the mental stamina to get through the semester. At the beginning of the semester, everyone was assigned to a team of five students. This cohort team was your assigned team for any group project in the core classes, and it was also a go-to group of people for support throughout the semester. I am so grateful that I was able to work with such a dedicated, diverse, encouraging group of students. Despite not being together physically, since most of us are attending classes virtually, we created a supportive bond and ability to work diligently together.
In addition to the core classes and working within my cohort team, the Specialization Courses have also been a fundamental part of the first semester. As a Brand and Product Management student, my first semester included a class in Marketing Research. Without a background in marketing, I found this class very enlightening and know that it was a great starting point for future marketing classes. Additionally, the Center for Brand and Product Management ran a weekly Applied Learning class on Friday afternoons. Working alongside both first and second year CBPM students, I was able to interact directly with companies in industries from CPG to tech. We met alumni at a variety of companies, worked on relevant problems together, and learned about experiences working as a brand manager. Every week has been interesting and engaging, and I have benefited greatly by learning brand management tactics in real-world scenarios.
Throughout all of these experiences this semester, I have chosen to attend the MBA program virtually due to COVID-19. Despite the unexpected change in format, I have found ways to connect with students, stay engaged in the coursework, and make the most of my education. Although video chat and pre-recorded lectures are not quite the same as a lively in-person classroom discussion, I am learning valuable remote work skills that I know will serve me well in the future. I look forward to future classes in Grainger Hall, and until then, I will be logging on remotely and enjoying my MBA journey from home. On, Wisconsin!