Prologue: An Epilogue
So I know I’ve hanging on a bit longer than perhaps I should. I’m now an old man, 32, about to be married, moving (back) to Northern California to begin my life as a real adult. I stayed in New Haven longer than most of my classmates, and I’m watching enviously as the Class of 2016 goes through the fun and craziness of Orientation and their first week of class. And here I am writing blog posts for a school where I’m now an alumnus. Well, aside from this being incredibly late, it’s also the last great catharsis that I need before I venture out of the bubble of business school and into the steppes (Tundra? Badlands? Sub-Boreal forests?) of the working world. Words, pictures, feelings diaries, nothing can come close to giving me the vocabulary to describe the last two years of my life and how much they’ve meant to me. So what’s left to do but blog about it? Plus, I figured that as the new First Years are starting, they could use a guide as they navigate the next two years.
I’m gonna chop this one up into three parts so that I don’t end up writing a dissertation. I’ll be posting one part a day, but before I get started, I want to take a moment to thank all of you for following along with us, the members of the Yale SOM Class of 2014. It’s been a truly rewarding adventure, and I’m glad you could make the trip with us. Here we go!
Part I: The Last First Day of School, Ever.
Remember back in time when I’d written about my roommates and the wonderful, amazing, diverse people at SOM? Well, to commemorate our short time together coming swiftly to a close, my roommates and I decided to recreate our original picture, (this time in our kitchen, since it was late February), and lo and behold, we have a ‘Last First Day of School Picture.’ It felt really weird. Not only because we clearly had another 7 weeks of school left, but also because it seemed like we’d just begun our journey a few short months before. Thinking about how close we grew as roommates and friends, not to mention with a large swath of our classmates, it made sense to us that we would continue one of many new traditions for SOMers. (Another new tradition, a Floating Dance Party toward the end of the year where we went all over Yale Campus silently dancing to a 90-minute mix on our iPods – Thank you Sarah ’14!)
So what has this last semester been like for us? Well, to say the least, busy. In addition to my extracurriculars of helping out with Admissions, running Student Government, and Co-Chairing the Class Gift, (more on that in Part 3), I was taking 6 classes, (death wish), and aiming for Distinction in all of them. These classes included a (should be mandatory) class called Interpersonal Dynamics where we spent 6 hours a week telling each other how we feel and how our interactions affect us as individuals – management training for certain. There’s a reason they call it ‘Touchy Feely’’ at Stanford where 90% of the class takes it. It was one of the more intense experiences I’ve had at SOM and was the closest I’ve come to experiencing acting school all over again.
I also had the great fortune to take two classes outside of SOM. One was a cross-listed class with the Law School called ‘Advanced Competition, Economics, and Policy’ and was taught by our own Fiona Scott-Morton, one of the most brilliant minds in the world, and a former Chief Economist for the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trust Division. As you may have guessed, the class was all about anti-trust issues, and was a key class if you’re interested in mergers & acquisitions, patent law, advanced competitive strategy, or, you know, life. Fiona was one of the best, and scariest, teachers that I’ve ever had – you can bet that I came to class ridiculously prepared every day so that I wouldn’t look like a complete moron when she inevitably cold-called me. (Just kind of a moron.)
The other non-SOM class that I took was a class at the School of Architecture (my fiancé, Adam, is an architect, so I figured it’d win me bonus points and we’d finally have something to talk about), called Launch: Art & the Entrepreneur. This is a class where the professor, (the world-class Keller Easterling), likes to have multiple perspectives including architects, MBAs, lawyers, and PhDs. Basically, we spent a semester designing systems that would help to shape space in the world. It was an incredible experience, and my partners Jonathon and Craig, both M.Archs, and I built a kind of mercantile exchange for affordable housing units so that cityscapes wouldn’t be shaped by regulation or gentrification, but rather by demand and a sense of responsibility for all stakeholders in the community. It was amazing getting to hear things from the perspective of architects and developers, and our model must have gained some attention because we’ve been asked to publish in this year’s Retrospecta, the School of Architecture’s annual folio of exemplary works. One of the proudest accomplishments of my time at Yale.
The other class that I wanted to talk about is our Design & Innovation independent study course. Led by Professor Jonathan Feinstein, 15 members of the class of ’14 set out to examine the principles behind design thinking the iterative process, and using behavioral factors to solve massive social problems. It was a truly inspiring class. Bukky’s already talked about our weekend-long workshop, but I wanted to add that that workshop helped me define what I was looking for out of life. We conducted a ‘personal ideation’ session where we examined our own career and personal trajectories and, though I felt cheesy at times, I ended up really gleaning a lot from the process. Additionally, we were treated to amazing visit to Yale-New Haven Hospital to speak to their administrators about their user-centered redesign of their emergency department. I was a fascinating look into how design and design thinking can help shape space and make organizations more operationally effective.
That’s it for today – tomorrow I’ll talk a bit more about where I’ll be going this year, and what I was doing with my summer in the interim.