Back to School Guide: Advice from the experts, our alums


Well, school is officially back in session at Michigan Ross (cue sending of celebratory emoji), which means everywhere you look you see noses to the grindstone, feet to the fire, fingers to the... frameworks?

More than 45,000 have successfully completed the gauntlet that is the rigorous, action-based approach to business education we take here at Ross, so who better than our talented pool of alumni to offer words of wisdom?

To finish up our series of Back to School guides (see parts 1-3 in sidebar), we asked recent Michigan Ross alums to share their advice for succeeding and thriving in this friendly yet challenging and demanding environment.

Here’s what they had to say. Heed their advice, young padawans:

Jenn Boldt, MBA ‘15

Associate, McKinsey & Company

“Michigan Ross is an amazing place to push yourself outside of your comfort zone while being surrounded by people who are excited to see you succeed - so take that leap you have always wanted to. The next two years will go by very quickly, and you only go to business school once - so take a breath and try to live in the moment. And along the way, don't forget to make the time to reflect on the experience. Enjoy your journey and Go Blue!”

Nir Belsky, MBA ‘15

Sales Manager, Google

“Maintaining focus is important. You will soon realize that there are events happening all the time and it is not possible to attend all of them. You need to have your priorities in place so you can choose the ones that are most relevant and important to you.

“Also, having fun with your classmates should be a priority. It is easy to get overwhelmed with professional development and academics, but it's important to remain engaged in social events. Ross has an amazing group of people with a range of backgrounds and learning from them is a big part of the Ross experience.”

Rahul Raina, BBA ‘15

Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company

"Stay curious."

Pamela Soberman, MBA ‘15

Executive Recruiter, Microsoft

“The people who you will learn from the most over the next two years are your classmates. You are surrounded by an incredible and diverse community of people who come from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. Take this opportunity to learn about your classmates and hear their stories - whether it be through attending a club event such as Story Lab's Ross Diaries, participating in an interactive workshop such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator workshop, or organizing small social dinners on your own.

“The leadership and life lessons I have gained from immersing myself into the Ross community have been tremendous, and my only regret is that I wish I had more time to get to know all my fantastic classmates!”

Kyle Grubman, MBA ‘15

HRIT Business Analyst, LinkedIn

“Think less about time management, more about energy management. Be mindful after an activity or exchange with another person and ask yourself, ‘Am I more energized or less energized?’ If the answer is more, carve out time for that activity and invest in those relationships.

“You want to be at your best when your best is needed, whether it's for presentations, exams, or the recruiting process. It took me some time to put this into practice, but I'm happy that I left school with five daily habits that energize me and a system for tracking them. Your list might be different. My hope is that you will consider establishing your own energy management practice so you have the fuel to capitalize on every opportunity that knocks during your time at Ross. Enjoy the two-year adventure, Go Blue!”

Audrey Horn, MBA '15

International Relations Fellow, Leadership Development Rotation Program at Medtronic

“Do something, many things, during the next two years that scare you. The greatest experiences I had at Ross were the moments when I took a leap. If leading a club scares you, run for president. If traveling to a new country causes anxiety, pursue a global experience. If you have stage fright, audition for follies.

“You'll be amazed at how quickly those decisions to take a risk become your most rewarding experiences and your most salient Ross memories.”

Jacob Talbot, MBA/MS ‘15

Market Research Manager, SunEdison

“When a professor tells the class to form their own groups, do it immediately. Like, get on the groupme before the sentence is out of the professor's mouth and get your group secured.”

Nikhil Sharma, MBA ‘15

Senior Product Marketing Manager, American Express

“There are a lot of talented individuals you get introduced to in your first few months at b-school. Among all of them, and with a host of activities that will keep you up 20 hours every day, it is easy to start doubting your own capabilities. When that happens, you need to remind yourself that while you do have PHENOMENAL classmates and you are lucky to call some of them friends, you are also EQUALLY talented and hold valuable experience. That's why you are here at Ross!

“Your classmates are as lucky to be in your company as you are in theirs. Hence, there is never a need to feel overwhelmed or to undermine your own abilities. B-school is perhaps your last chance when you can experiment with various career and lifestyle choices with little to no adverse consequences. Open yourself and have fun. Go Blue, forever!”

Chris Struck, MAcc ‘15

Auditor, EY

“Explore, connect, and challenge yourself. You will be surprised at what you are capable of. Whether it is through presenting during competitions, quiet reflection in between challenging courses, or meeting like-minded people while traveling abroad, the person you will become will cherish those moments where you learned more about yourself. Good luck and have fun!”

Richard McMackin, MBA ‘15

Business Consultant, ZS Associates

“My one piece of advice for incoming MBA students would be to remain open-minded about your future career prospects. Coming in with an idea about what you want to do after the MBA program is great, but remaining flexible and exploring all your options will help you get the most out of the experience.”

Have advice you want to share with the incoming class? Connect with us on Twitter or LinkedIn and let us know!

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