10,000 miles, 7 days, 3 countries, 1 new start...

August 10, 2009

...and more trips to a certain Scandinavian furniture store than I care to remember. I only finished work one week before moving to the US, and it’s all been something of a blur since then. In addition to getting my head around the imminent lifestyle shift from the workplace back to the classroom, I’ve had to spend much of May, June and July making arrangements for my visa, shipments and numerous other bits and bobs that go hand in hand with international relocation. Add to that the complexity of also balancing a busy full-time job and doing all of the above from Japan (as a non-Japanese) and it’s been what might be, in grossly understated terms, described as a ‘challenging’ few months. With the start of school just around the corner, I thought that now might be an appropriate time to reflect on the application process which I imagine many prospective students are now in the thick of. I was fortunate enough to be choosing between several schools in the end, and while I can’t say that this choice is ever easy, what I will say is that it does become much simpler once you have experienced each school’s culture first-hand. I had visited Yale several times from overseas, and I also flew over for the Welcome Weekend back in April. For me, the main struggle was in choosing between big city schools and those in smaller ‘college towns’, particularly given that my pre-MBA positions had taken me to London, Hong Kong and Tokyo - three of the most exciting cities in the world. In the end though, the decision came down to that seemingly intangible concept of ‘fit’. The term is prolific during the admission process but is also something I’m not sure I fully understood before the process began. Now, being on the other side of that process, the best I can say is that, eventually, you just know. I was surprised at how tangible ‘fit’ became after a fortnight spent visiting schools from coast to coast: it was remarkably easy to disregard a number of seemingly comparable schools based on ‘fit’ alone. So why Yale? Well, for me, the community and network that you build at grad school is one of the most important pieces of the MBA pie. Speaking in very general terms, the type of individual I encountered here appeared to be the type of person who places a similar weight on community. I met a group of very bright, open-minded, socially conscious individuals who don’t take themselves too seriously and whose goals are focused towards more than just personal and financial gain - all traits that very much appeal to me. My first week in New Haven has been spent getting set up and settled, and I’m pleased to say that my initial thoughts about the community here appear to have been spot on: throughout this week, SOM students have been helping each other out with moving in, building furniture, sharing rides and organising Happy Hours and social get-togethers. It already feels like a community that is coming together quite naturally and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop further as we head into Orientation this week.

About the author

Mark Butterworth