Alexandra Fitzgerald, Rotman School of Management Memorable moments from orientation

Last week consisted of two separate orientation events. The first was our mandatory orientation programme hosted on campus by faculty and administration. The second was an optional pre-MBA camp in northern Ontario hosted by the second year MBA students.

The first event included a presentation slide showing important information detailing the course breakdown in every term. This was overlaid with a line illustrating when over the year the curriculum would be most demanding and corresponding happy or sad faces to help us understand how we would be feeling during different months.

The second event consisted of a beach party, pitching new uses for random products (water-wings as levitation devices) and donning our best “what you were wearing in 1995” costumes. So it may not be entirely fair to compare the two events in terms of which was more fun (I’m guessing you smart readers have figured it out anyways) but I found value in both events, so I thought I would share some of my takeaways.

Get organised, stay on track…

The aforementioned slide showing the detailed curriculum, workload and student mood was done a little tongue and cheek, but I did take two major points from it. The first was that the work starts right away and to make sure to keep up with the workload so you don’t get stuck playing catch-up. The second was that there are going to be times when it feels overwhelming, but it is part of the process and each of us needs to understand how best to deal with the stressful periods.

Creativity is key

At the orientation camp the second year students had a number of games for us to play, most with a business context. What was key in each, was creativity. They wanted us to focus on any possible outcome and not what we thought was expected. They were asking us to start stretching our minds because that is what we will be asked to do during the course of our MBA education.

Choose your own path

As part of our in-class orientation we were asked to do a “future authoring exercise” designed to help us understand what is important to our future selves and to ensure that the career decisions we are making today are leading us down the right path. Ensuring we are making the right career decision was further explored when a panel including second year students explained how easy it was to follow the crowd. It’s not about getting the “best” job with the most sought after firm, it’s about finding the position that is right for me and my career and life goals.

Take time to get to know your classmates

Both orientation events gave me the opportunity to meet my future classmates and I’m reminded that one of the reasons I wanted to go to Rotman was more than just to get my degree, but to learn from my peers with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Both events allowed me the opportunity to do this and as the school work ramps up, this is something that I hope will stay at the top of my mind.