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Frustrated man studying, surrounded by textbooks. (iStockphoto)
Frustrated man studying, surrounded by textbooks. (iStockphoto)

Business school a lot of work? Believe it! Add to ...

Matthew Wilson

I've been getting pretty swamped with work, as the second month of term always gets busy.

Thinking about the next couple days and weeks, the projects, papers, assignments are all mounting, as is the pressure to secure summer internships. The stress is palpable around school when the mention of co-ops or internships is brought up, as most are still trying to secure a spot while juggling seven classes at once.

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When people say that business school is a lot of work, believe them. You are constantly reading business cases and texts, getting assignments together, planning for the next project and also trying to fit in career and personal development on top of all of this (and personal life, if you remember what that is). This is what you take on as a graduate business student and you have to be ready to get down to it when you come back to school. Long gone are the days of my undergrad, where a five-course load seemed strenuous. Still, the more ramped up and hectic pace of an MBA is what I wanted in a program.

Last term started up quickly with our core courses being in Managerial Accounting, Marketing Management, Data Analysis and Forecasting, and Managing People and Organizations. These courses lay a good ground work for our supplementary courses in Consulting Methods, Business and Sustainability and Managerial Economics. Most of the course were new to me, coming in as a Social Sciences major, but my academic background did help me immensely in the behavioural side of management and marketing. The first term also gave us a base knowledge to expand on some courses in the second term, with classes in Human Resource Management, Strategic Analysis and Design, International Business, Operations Management, Business Law, Information Technology, and Managerial Finance. A big workload, but a great overall look at several aspects of the business world.

While the first term's pace was fast and hard, the second term has the added pressure of looking for meaningful summer internships. There are a small number of sought after internships that go to only the savviest students who can market themselves the most effectively. With a limited numbers of positions and limited time to pursue all opportunities, you have to know what you are looking for or you will waste time simply searching for that perfect position. You have to utilize everyone in your network and leverage every strength you have, a task that is a lot easier said than done.

It is also important to not let all of the schoolwork overwhelm you and take you away from professional development activities that are just as important, if not more, than what you learn in the classroom. On any given day in the hallways of the business school, you can find a plethora of talented business people and faculty passing through and engaging with students and it is critical to foster relationships with those that can help you. However long the program is (a year or two), it will fly by. So you always have to be planning ahead and taking the necessary steps to get where you want once you graduate.

If you do plan to head back to do an MBA, it is always useful to brush up on your time management skills. Some things you simply don't have time for and you have to choose where your effort goes. You can't do it all, but you want to make sure your time is meaningful once you look back on it, because you soon will be looking back. In a lecture in first term a successful executive told our class there is no such thing as "life-work balance," only "life-work integration." That stuck with me.

On the first day of our program, our class was told to not fret too much about the marks and focus on what you can get out of the school. I think some take that to heart more than others, but it is good advice and quite true. It is the most work that has been ever piled on me, but you have to make sure you keep things in perspective because that next thing is always coming up.

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