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Isabel Sen ’20

A Hectic Month Full of Pleasant Surprises

Isabel Sen ’21 reflects on her first month in the MBA program at the Yale School of Management.

Isabel Sen ’20

Has it already been a month? Has it only been a month? Somehow, it still feels like we just got to campus, but it also feels like it’s been an eternity. As I understand it, this is not an uncommon experience for “Fall 1” (the first half of our fall semester; both semesters are split into halves, with a different set of core courses in each and a set of finals in the middle). So many things are happening to you at once: You just moved to New Haven and never quite finished unpacking. You have to remember how to be a student again, and you are surprised to learn how much about studenthood you have forgotten. You just met the 350ish fellow students in your class, the 70ish students in your cohort, all your professors, all your administrators, the heroes working at Evans Café and Charley’s Place, and many of the second years, and are trying to keep everything straight. You are trying to keep abreast of all the amazing things happening at SOM, not to mention across campus. You want to join what feels like 500 clubs, but you can “realistically” handle 5—or so you think, before the on-campus company presentations and coffee chats kick in.

Everyone promised me that business school would be a blast. They also promised me that business school, and especially Fall 1, would be incredibly hectic. Well, it’s one of the great things about SOM: everyone’s word here is very good.

So I knew what to expect, generally speaking. But there has been one surprise—probably the one thing that should have been least surprising: the incredible quality of the faculty. The strength of the professors during my on-campus visits was a large contributing factor in my decision to come to SOM. And just before orientation kicked off, Yale SOM tied for the top spot among MBA programs for best faculty. Yet knowing all this, I still have been blown away every day by how truly phenomenal they are. Every professor does extremely interesting research, and most have found a way to sprinkle it into the classroom (even when teaching us the very basics of statistics). Every professor’s passion for their subject is infectious (as much as Dean Jain likes to joke that we all surely dread his modeling sessions, he must know he has a rapt audience). And most important, the professors don’t check their perspectives at the door. This is crucial with our core curriculum designed around thinking critically about other points of view, others stakeholders’ perspectives. Despite the breakneck pace of Fall 1, I feel like I know how each professor leads a room, their respective senses of humor, and most important, what kinds of things (intellectually, at least) draw them in.

I am so grateful for these perspectives, that our faculty are so incredibly engaged, and that I have this opportunity to learn and grow as a leader. And I am so grateful I have many more months ahead.

Isabel Sen ’21  is a recipient of the Aline and Santino Blumetti ’99 MBA Alumni Fund Scholarship.