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Advice for the Class of 2016

This is a post directed at the members of the Class of 2016, soon to be arriving on campus for Orientation. However, if you’re applying to be a member of 2017 or later, you may still find it useful. The summer before the Class of 2015 arrived, we received a bit of advice from our soon-to-be-second years, and we wanted to make sure we paid it forward to welcome the Class of 2016. Special thanks Jennifer Peterson and Christina Mainero (as well as the Class of 2014 bloggers!) for bringing this blog post back. We have appended a few additional thoughts to the advice we received previously.

We would like to welcome you to SOM with some unsolicited advice. There are only so many days left before you start Orientation. Until then, we wanted to provide you with some things you could do now to prepare yourself for the unrelenting whirlwind that is the SOM MBA experience. We’ve come up with these words of wisdom, (in random, stream-of-consciousness order) for the summer prior to your arriving here, but also for keeping in mind during your time at SOM. We hope that it eases the anxiety and builds the excitement of joining the SOM community on campus in August, and look forward to meeting all of you in person soon.

  • Become an efficiency expert. Try to respond to every e-mail that requires a response within 36 hours. Then delete it or file away. Keep a clean inbox.  It is more professional and helps keep opportunities flowing your way.
  • Start phasing out your favorite TV shows and magazines so you’ll miss them less when you don’t have time to read/watch. On the flip side, see a lot of movies this summer, because you probably won’t see one for 12 months.
  • Get your ZipCar membership before you get to campus, because you’ll want it to make trips to IKEA, Costco, Target, and Stop & Shop. Yale has student discounts, and it is a cheap option if you don’t own a car.
  • Do you have any crazy costumes/clothes at home? Please don’t throw them away. B-School is full of fun theme parties, and if your costume doesn’t fit one of the already-planned themes, you can always host your own party!
  • Also – if you have a favorite thrift shop, now is the time to buy crazy clothes. Some of our theme parties have included: Tight & Bright (we'll leave this for your imagination!); Halloween; and White Party
  • Figure out what time of day you get sleepiest. Avoid taking classes at that time.
  • Living alone? Plan to host some dinner parties, or get another house to adopt you so you stay connected to the community. Live with roommates and like socializing? Invite your friends over or host random, unassociated groups of people.
  • Take a moment to inventory your clothing needs – New Haven winters can be a doozy for the unprepared. Snow/rain boots are essential not because it snows/rains all the time, but because of the sheer amount when it does.
  • Speaking of apparel – you are required* to own at least 4 Yale-branded pieces of clothing. Choose the ones that look best on you. (*not actually)
  • How good are you at reading on the treadmill? We’d recommend starting with a large-text Kindle on 4 miles/hour and working up from there. Then you’ll be able to work out and do your homework at once!
  • Curate your own group of news sources based on your interests. Obviously The New York Times, WSJ, and FT are good, but look at other sources – WIRED, The New Yorker, Atlantic, even Gawker and New York Magazine offer great insights. This will make class more interesting, and you’ll have more of a reason to e-mail your professors to talk about classroom topics.
  • Get good at social media. Get reeeeeeeal good.
  • Try booking a day where you have consecutive planned activities from 8:30am – 1am the following day. That would probably be a 6.5 on our 1 to 10 scale of school intensity. Rate the experience for yourself, and then adjust your expectations accordingly.
  • Pick up/download Thinking Fast and SlowNudgeGetting to Yes, and Change By Design if you’re looking for beach reading material. You’ll be halfway to High Honors in at least 4 classes!
  • Now is the time to pick up some ‘Never Done Before’ sports (crew, skiing, ice hockey, rowing, polo, marathon biking, to name a few). You have some time to gain a small advantage over your peers, and not to kill yourself learning one or all of these activities that you thought you’d never do. Until you came to Yale.
  • You will never, ever again in your life be in a better position to start your own company, or at least develop a long-cherished idea into a living project. The amount of connections, peer review, sharp feedback, funding exposure, mentor advice, and other resources will overwhelm you, so start thinking about your concept and come prepared to take over the world.
  • Student – it’s amazing! Amazon Prime (1-2 day free shipping) for free for the next 6 months - you can set your calendar invite to go remind you when the 6 months are approaching to discontinue if you don't want to commit after!
  • Take the time now to see what inspires you – people, ideas, quotes, or experiences and make sure you keep that close when you’re caught in the sea of endless possibilities… It’s always good to be in touch with your core!
  • Enjoy your summer before SOM. Relish the time you have now prior to school to relax, pack, and enjoy time with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Start taking long flights. Once you get here, you’ll want to form an alliance with your classmates to get you to and from the airport. Embrace red-eye flights, especially if you’re from the West Coast.
  • Stop eating Thai food and pizza right this instant. You will have plenty of both in New Haven, (and the pizza cannot be beat).
  • Get comfy with your calendar and with scheduling time just for yourself. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) runs rampant in first year, but if you can’t find a way to get some time to yourself to decompress, first year can hit harder and faster than one would like. Make sacred time for yourself—to exercise, to stay in touch with people in the outside world, to take a bubble bath, whatever makes you feel reenergized.
  • If you have set goals for the SOM experience, prioritize what you want to do on campus (if you have an idea already) BEFORE you get here.  It can be easy to lose track of what you want when you arrive (again, FOMO).
  • At the same time, be open to trying new things here, whether this is a new sport, new talent, or new way of thinking. Push yourself to be uncomfortable and go outside your comfort zone—again whether that is trying something new or signing up for an activity you wouldn’t normally be involved with. Someone in the Class of 2014 recommended going to something new or trying out something random each week (try to beat that!).  Yale, both at SOM and throughout the University has so many awesome opportunities that it would be tragic to not take advantage of them.
  • Make friends and build a support system on campus, even before you reach campus – this is something that will make your life at SOM much easier!  Start meeting with future classmates and developing those connections for posterity J
  • Reach out to second years and engage with them—we promise we don’t bite and we (Class of 2015) wish we had done more of this first semester.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail early and often (more of this in Innovator, which you will take in the spring).  The first few weeks (or months), it’s easy to want to put on a brave face or façade of who you think you should be at business school, but never underestimate the value of humility, asking for help, and owning up to the fact that we are all trying to figure things out. That is the reality of the situation, and helping/supporting others when they are in need while they do the same for you is something everyone can be proud of.
  • Help one another and look around you.  You are surrounded by truly tremendous classmates and faculty members.  Get to know them and invest time in relationships. Learn from people who have different backgrounds—professional and personal—than you.  As much as this experience is about making it everything you want, find time to focus on others to help grow you, and not just on yourself.
  • Take advantage of things like the International Experience and Global Network weeks if you can.  These are life-changing and also one-in-a-lifetime opportunities.  They are great ways to spend time with and get to know your classmates in a totally different setting!
  • Be a little zany and do not be afraid to be yourself. 
  • Be excited to create something here, whether it is a new tradition, a new club, a speaker series, an event, or a new sense of self.  SOM is so much more than just a school where you take classes during the day and walk away at night.  Our community is one of engagement and inspiration, and we want you to be a part of that as soon as possible. Welcome, Class of 2016!