Having prepared an application for the SFU MBA and being accepted brought the realization that I should probably prepare for the program. One error I will admit to immediately is I fully neglected to take advantage of the student ambassador program which was set-up for us. This would have been an opportunity to talk with a current MBA student and grill them about the program and find out what we should expect. If you take the same path as me and ignore this otherwise excellent opportunity, here’s one of the first things I discovered.
In the months prior to starting my MBA at SFU, I read the New York Times bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. As someone who doesn’t have the most gregarious of social personalities (to put it mildly), I’d spent a lot of time thinking about why I actually signed up for the MBA after getting my acceptance letter. My fear had been a year of intensive social activities bookending group-work intensive course work. Not only that, but I frankly expected my cohort to be filled with type A personalities who would spend most of their time working against their classmates in some sort of perverse Hunger Games-type competition. Either by dumb-luck or design the SFU experience so far has dispelled this idea entirely. In fact, a single conversation on the first day revealed much more about my cohort than anything since. First I’ll give my perspective on the conversation; then you’ll get the other:
We’d spent the first couple of hours doing a series ice breaker exercises when, in a brief lull in conversation, one of the women at my table said that she was finding the days’ activities exhausting. And that she was really more of an introvert. Within seconds several other people at the table revealed themselves as well. The end result was that basically all six of us preferred quieter settings and interactions, and agreed that if the entire MBA program was as intense as the first day we’d all be in trouble (plot twist: it’s not at all). In a way this simple one minute conversation was a massive relief; there are many people and personalities in the program, and certainly my experience at SFU is that there is such a range of people that there will be others who just aren’t that into massive social functions every day, all the time. Now onto my classmate Wing-Ka’s perspective:
From my perspective, the woman whom Ryan met on the first day: I was grateful that there was orientation for our cohort to get acquainted before diving into class—especially when Graduate Diploma of Business Administration (GDBA) transferred students like myself had no class in the first term! I am comfortable in social settings with friends, and friends of friends, but working in a laboratory setting for many years had conditioned me to form solid friendships in a familiar setting. Hence, there was some apprehension mixed with excitement about meeting a whole class of new people and participating in multiple activities for a few days straight.
However, similar to Ryan, I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of our class, many different personality types all with their own reasons for wanting to earn an MBA. A librarian, a professional poker dealer, lawyers, teachers, engineers, a pediatric oncology nurse—we have it all—and this made the interactions very interesting! Although I felt overwhelmed in the afternoon due to the full agenda, I really enjoyed listening to my classmates’ perspective and all the experiences they have had thus far, providing a platform look beyond one’s own views. I look forward to starting class in January, as I believe my cohort in the Beedie School of Business will be the ideal group for challenging and debating new ideas, allowing for growth and engagement.
In short, the SFU MBA program attracts a broad range of people you would normally not associate with while pursuing an MBA. This is the program’s strength and advantage. And unlike the MBA program which is discussed at length in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, this one actually has people in it who aren’t only extroverts.
Ryan Cross is a current MBA student at Beedie. He spent a number of years prior to starting his MBA conducting research, publishing, and presenting papers on military intelligence tools, on UN peacekeeping operations, and the ethics of war. Ryan tweets at @ryanwcross and can be contacted at email@example.com
Wing Ka is a full-time SFU Beedie MBA Student with an undergraduate degree in Cell Biology and Genetics. She is a runner, a traveler, a news junkie, and a foodie- but from recent experiences her true passion is connecting with people. Wing Ka is the VP of Communications for the Graduate Business Student Association. Connect with Wing Ka on LinkedIn, @_WingKa on Twitter or via email- firstname.lastname@example.org