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headshot of Grace Liu Happ

A Day in the Life at Yale SOM: Crafted with Intention

Grace Liu Happ ’21 shares a look at a day in the life of a first-year MBA student at Yale SOM.

When I came to business school I wanted to be extremely intentional with my time, given that I was taking two years away from work. Some of the best advice I got from a second-year friend was to write down some categories (academics, recruiting/career, health, social, etc.) that matter to me, then decide where to focus my time for the next few years. These two years are truly “me” time, where I’m investing in myself, so I’m making an effort to stay true to myself and pursue some old passions and new habits. Here is a glimpse of a day in my life as a first-year MBA student:

8:30 a.m.: Wake up. Honestly, I’m very much not a morning person, so I’m taking advantage of our flexible class schedule to sleep in. I do envy people who wake up hours earlier and are productive before the sun rises, but unfortunately that’s not a habit I will be developing in B-school! I read the news and get ready for my day slowly.

10 a.m.: I bike to my first class of the day, The Workforce. This class, taught by Jim Baron, is a part of our core curriculum, and is one of my favorite classes this term. I love listening to my classmates’ experiences, and we discuss some really contentious topics such as diversity in the workforce, talent acquisition as a tool for culture creation, and how to manage downsizing. Today we are discussing ways to redesign the job of a personal valet at the Portman Hotel.

11:30 a.m.: Bike back downtown to the Yale University Art Gallery, where the Intro to Art History class I’m taking is held. One of the biggest draws of coming to Yale is how flexible we are when it comes to taking electives. Since I had a pretty traditional business undergraduate experience (I went to Wharton undergraduate and also got a master’s degree in finance), I was excited to go out of my comfort zone and take courses at the Law School, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Yale College.  This is the first semester where we can take electives to supplement our core curriculum (our second year is 100% electives, which I’m excited for!), and so here I am at the Art Gallery every other day. It’s one of my favorite times of the day, and I love spending some extra time at the gallery every week to rediscover a cool piece of art.

1 p.m.: Meet up with a friend and treat myself to lunch at Atticus Bookstore across the street from the Art Gallery. I’m a big foodie and always love trying new restaurants in New Haven. Coming from New York City and Boston, I also love how affordable meals and happy hours are in the city, and try to take advantage as often as I can.

1:30 p.m.: Go home (I live downtown, where the restaurants and art museums are) to crank out some last touches on this week’s deliverable for my Yale Center for Customer Insights Discovery Project. We are consulting with a large CPG company on the launch of their zero-sugar drink and are working closely with our marketing faculty to develop customer insights. It’s a lot of work, but exciting, as we are solving a real-world marketing issue, and it’s great exposure for me as I try out CPG and customer/marketing work for the first time.

2:30 p.m.: Go to the gym at Payne Whitney.

3:30 p.m.: Quickly shower at school and meet with my homework group to discuss this week’s operations homework. We have a lot of group projects, and this has become second nature at this point. I do appreciate how respectful everyone is of others’ time, and we are generally pretty good at keeping our meetings quick and efficient.

4 p.m.: Last class of the day, macroeconomics. Professor Lorenzo Caliendo is one of the best professors I’ve had so far, and does a good job teaching material in a way that’s fresh and exciting for people who have economics backgrounds, while accessible enough for students for whom this is their first time getting exposure. This class is also part of our core curriculum.

6 p.m.: Cohort event! We take the majority of our core classes with our cohort, and I absolutely love mine (Silver). This is where many of our initial friendships develop, and it’s amazing that we automatically already know one-fifth of the entire MBA class through our cohort. Today our first-year cohort representative planned a dinner at a local New Haven bar, and we catch up with each other over some classic New Haven pizza and beers.

7:30 p.m.: I leave our cohort social a little early to attend a celebration for students who got a summer internship offer from my company, where I worked before coming to business school and where I’ll be returning afterwards. After an intense few months of recruiting, it was fun to celebrate my classmates who had worked so hard. We celebrate at Mory’s with a game of Cups, which has been a tradition at Yale since 1849.

9 p.m.: Weekly viewing of The Bachelor with friends. Given our smaller class size, it was easy to find a community of friends who are interested in the same hobbies as I am—in this case, trashy reality TV. We unwind for the next few hours.

11 p.m.: Finally back home, where I FaceTime my husband, start my homework, meal prep for the (few) upcoming days where we won’t have lunch provided, do work for my various extracurricular club involvements, practice some piano, and read. It’s always important to me to regroup before starting another wonderfully packed day at SOM, and as a night owl I appreciate the time to myself.