Very recently, I had the opportunity to “act” in a skit welcoming the incoming international class at Ross. After interacting with many of the eager newcomers, it finally hit me. I am now the 2nd year - the senior who is supposed to know “everything” about business school and life at Ross by this time; from the bar scene to recruiting. For most of the day, I found myself revisiting my 1st year experience at Ross. As a result, here goes my year in review post while events are still fresh in my memory. I will start with recruiting since finding a new career was by the far the major reason I applied to B-school in the 1st place.Recruiting
I was admitted to Michigan after R1 in January 2008. At that time, I wanted to work my way into General Management via the consulting path. For several personal reasons, I ruled out consulting as a career by June and by August decided to concentrate on Healthcare. As I talked to people in the industry, two things became a recurring theme.
Male Indian IT types with engineering undergrad will have a tough time landing marketing jobs in the US
With no background in healthcare, it is nearly impossible to land jobs in healthcare
The advice was spot on and I had a major decision in my hands. Should I pursue my dreams or should I take a safer route in my career search? But then again, there really was no safe career choice for an international that would guarantee a job. So, I abandoned all sense of caution and decided to vigorously pursue a career in healthcare. Surprisingly, once I made up my mind the recruiting process became very simple. I learned everything about the industry I could, subscribed to daily news feeds, read the WSJ blog on healthcare and followed every major development in the industry. Then, I researched the companies on campus and decided to focus on a total of 6 companies (4 medical device and 2 biotech firms). When firms came on campus, I was able to talk intelligently and genuinely about the industry and slowly but surely gain credibility. In the end, I made 5 out of 6 closed lists and had 2 offers by the 3rd week of January. That was it. I stopped recruiting in early Feb and decided that I was going to Cincinnati for the summer at my top choice. Seeing my friends who are more talented than me struggle with the recruiting process, I was relieved to have a job offer that I really wanted.
My advice, which you can take at your own peril: Pursue your dream career, but be laser focused and do not deviate no matter how tough things get. Resist the urge to follow the crowd and stick to your guns once you decide what you want. But, also be realistic.Family & Social Life
B-school places an enormous strain on your personal life. If you are married, be prepared for some frustration in your relationship. Almost every couple I know went through ups and downs throughout the year, and while my wife and I were extremely lucky to make it through with our relationship intact and even better for the experience, I have seen other people virtually lead separate lives by the end of the year. Do not underestimate the amount of time you will have to spend away from your loved ones. Educate your spouse or significant other before you start school and try to involve him/her in your school life as much as you can. Finding a school with a good support system, living in an apartment where lots of other couples live, etc all become critical.
In B-school, there is a social event to go to almost on a daily basis. Part of keeping peace in the family is being selective about what to take part in and what to skip. I certainly did not socialize as much as some of my classmates, but still managed to have my share of fun and build a good circle of friends. This is a choice I made consciously and one I will make again with no second thought. Academics
I did not worry too much about my grades and simply focused on taking the right courses. I got most of the core courses out of my way in the fall term and used the winter term to take electives related to healthcare and marketing.
As for the quality of the courses, the core classes at Michigan were generally good with some exceptions.
The Good – Finance, Operations, Statistics, and Strategy core courses. The healthcare elective I took was not immediately relevant to my career but proved very insightful in a macro sense.
The Not so good – Marketing core. Lot of people loved this course, but I wasn’t a big fan for several reasons I won’t expand on here.
Professors were on balance very good, and class discussions generally interesting. Overall I have positive feelings about the quality of the academics.MAP
For 7 weeks, student groups here work on a consulting project for a sponsor firm (either domestic or international). Sponsoring companies come from a variety of industries: financial services, hospitality, non-profit, medical centers, biotech firms, start-up medical device ventures, online retailers, traditional CPG firms among others. Students select their top 10 projects from a set of about 90 and are assigned to 1 of those projects by the MAP office which runs the program. Many of my classmates treated these MAP projects as simply an opportunity to go on a vacation somewhere exotic. I conversely chose to do my MAP at an Ann Arbor biotech start-up. I was able to use my MAP choice as an extra leg for my healthcare story to stand on, and this proved very useful.
Working as a group with no clear leader is a real challenge and MAP projects can get very stressful because of team dynamics. My team had our share of challenges, but in the end we were able to work well together and part as good friends. Besides the inter-personal challenge, MAP provided me an opportunity to apply what I learned in the 1st year in the real world. When MAP ended, I felt pretty good about my ability to succeed in my summer internship. Internship
My internship was in a marketing/strategy role with one of the top medical device companies in the world. My internship was all I hoped for, and more. I got a great project, interacted with senior executives, gain hands-on experience at a company with a great brand name, and by the end of the summer validate that healthcare is definitely the career for me. Feel free to PM me if you want to chat in detail and I will be happy to.
I guess this covers pretty much all the aspects I wanted to touch on. Overall, I feel I am in a good spot going into the 2nd year and am extremely pleased by my decision to go to school at Michigan.
You will note as you read through my post that there are different choices to be made throughout B-school. In the end, the B-school experience comes down to making these choices.
Should I be focused on 1 career (or) cast the net wider by recruiting for multiple types of jobs
Should I focus on grades (or) just be satisfied to learn what I need
Should I be the social butterfly (or) miss out on many events to spend time with my family
Should I use my MAP to travel somewhere exotic (or) use it as an opportunity to get relevant experience
Everyone will have a slightly different take on the situation. Be secure with the choices you make and dont look for validation from your peers. Good luck to you all and feel free to ask questions!