Academic feasts, transition and Britney Spears

September 11, 2009

After just a week and a half of classes, one of my classmates was convinced that we were into our third week already. I felt similarly: it’s been an incredibly busy time so far and it got me thinking. Life tends to pick up speed as you get older. Why? Well, in my humble - based strictly on no theory whatsoever - opinion, it’s to do with a decreasing exposure to new ideas and experiences. As you grow up, you tend to settle into some sort of routine and life picks up speed. I feel like what’s happened here, during our first couple of weeks of core classes, is that we have all been exposed to so much new material at lightning-fast pace that we’re reverting back to that life-in-slow-motion feeling as brains frantically try to adjust and absorb everything. We’re now a few weeks into stage 1 of our first year at Yale - Orientation to Management – which is designed to provide a grounding in the fundamentals of business and management. At present, our menu includes staples of microeconomics and accounting, paired with a smattering of probability and spreadsheet modeling and topped off with some softer skills courses on careers and problem framing. To continue the food analogy, it’s a feast, albeit a feast that you’re required to digest in record time. To my mind, as well as providing the nuts and bolts, it’s designed to teach us efficiency and prioritization: master neither of the above and the digestion process might well be a little on the uncomfortable side. The transition from the office to the classroom has actually been trickier than I imagined it would be. I’d been used to working 12+ hour days on a regular basis, so it’s not so much a case of the long days being difficult as it is dealing with the volume of material that we are trying to ingest. For me, much of it is new; for others who have been accountants or economists in their pre-MBA lives, it’s a little more of an easier ride. Everyone is in it together though, and this is where the oft-cited collaborative nature of the school comes to the fore - if you're stumped, there tends to be a queue of people happy to help you figure it out. Thankfully we’re taught by some of the best here. The way in which the material is presented has been - as far as possible - pleasantly entertaining. Whether we’ve been learning about the impact of the proliferation of online TV show streaming on regular TV viewing or calculating the probability that K-Fed showed up at the MTV Awards given that Britney Spears had fun (for those interested Pr{K-FED | BRITNEYFUN} ≈ 4/19, or 21%*: good luck, Britney) it’s been an interesting, if challenging, time so far. * based on a number of rather (I suspect) loosely determined a priori probabilities

About the author

Mark Butterworth