Lessons after one year in the Executive MBA Metro NY program

By: Katie Meyer, Executive MBA Metro NY ’19
Photo of people working on a large puzzle outdoors

Students in the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program and One-Year MBA program work together on a team building and leadership activity

By Katie Meyer, Executive MBA Metro NY ’19

As I begin to pack for my third residential session up in Ithaca, it is a great time to pause and reminisce a bit on all that I have learned during my first year in b-school.

In no particular order, here are some of the main lessons that I learned from year one in the Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY program.

Leave your undergrad self behind

Some may go into business school worried, anxious, and concerned about re-living their undergrad life, or at the very least, terrified of statistics. Undergrad for me meant loading my class schedule up to try to finish school as fast as possible, while juggling said classes between two to three jobs at a time. It was a race to push ahead and keep my head down plugging away. I did not particularly love any class nor enjoy doing all the assigned readings and homework.

If you asked me today if b-school Katie is anything like undergrad Katie, you would be met with a resounding “NO!” And that’s a good thing. I have learned to appreciate, relish and look forward to my time in class, readings, homework, and working with my team on a variety of assignments.

I have learned that I actually enjoy doing quantitative analysis! Yes, that’s right folks—I said it! Quant is fun. I also had no idea how absolutely thrilled I would get over the topic of microeconomics and drawing supply and demand graphs to my heart’s content. And yes, even big, bad statistics no longer haunts me in my dreams, I have conquered that, too.

No sir, undergrad Katie is nothing like b-school Katie. Embrace it.

You can still have a life

I remember reading many student blogs during the application process to b-school, and I don’t think I came across one blog that didn’t say something to the effect of “be prepared to have no life.” And truth be told, for the first three months or so of school—I didn’t have a life. I was either working, reading, studying, building regression models, or on team calls those first few months, desperately trying to figure out my new normal. It does get easier! The name of the game is prioritization, and even if you think to yourself that you aren’t any good at it, trust me, you will become good at it.

One of my other tips is to plan a short trip between class breaks so you have something to look forward to and a goal to work toward. It helps break up the semester (and bonus, it keeps you sane!) Bermuda and Florida are great options…if you need help planning your itinerary, just let me know. I moonlight in building excellent vacations.

In all seriousness, my classmates and teammates have been the biggest source of inspiration in terms of going to b-school while still having a life. Some of them have multiple children, had their spouses give birth during the program, commute hours back and forth each day to work, and still manage to pull straight A’s and have an awesome time on class weekends. These people are my heroes and luckily enough, some of my close friends, which brings me to my third and final key lesson.

Photo of four people in Halloween costumes
Photo of a group of people with Touchdown the bear at a reception

You’ve heard it before. There’s still no “I” in TEAM

The team-based program that Cornell offers is one of the biggest benefits of the entire program. The faculty that teaches us on a weekend basis are aces, and some of the coolest, smartest, most influential people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. That being said, there is something about the team dynamic that teaches you lessons about life, yourself, communication, and building and leading a diverse team that no classroom can breach.

Don’t believe me? I met my long-lost brother in my first semester on my team. Okay, I didn’t really meet my legitimate sibling, but I created bonds with people from different backgrounds and walks of life that will last a lifetime. I feel honored, safe, happy, and excited knowing these people and sharing this bond together. We celebrate our achievements together, laugh over our blunders when we didn’t ace the accounting quiz, and still sit in the same row together as our first week in Ithaca.

In fact, as I come back to packing, I remember to grab some workout clothes and tennis shoes, because this time at the residential session, some of the cohort is choosing to defy death and withstand the elements together yet again at the infamous high ropes course with Cornell Outdoor Education. And I could not be more excited for it!

Come at me, year two!

Link to learn more about the Executive MBA Metro NY program