Ah well, maybe not so old. And definitely not very wise. But I survived my first year of MBA and hope that the following might be useful to some of the first year’s starting soon (thanks to AngelAngie, who suffered through part of my sermon below already).
Take it easy. This is the most important advice I can give you. Take it easy. Don’t rush into things. Don’t sign up for every single club. Don’t volunteer to be president of a million clubs. Don’t expect to know every single detail about every single thing right away. Things happen as and when you need them. On a need to know basis. Go with the flow and see where it takes you. It’s one hell of a ride, this MBA thing, sit back, close your eyes and enjoy it!
Don’t take it easy. Yes, I know that contradicts the first one. But you need to find a balance between taking it easy and making the most out of your time here. Try and get an idea of what it is that you want to get out of your MBA (think back to those awful essays if you have to). Is it to learn, to network, to have fun, or a combination? What matters most? For me it’s most important to learn and to only do things that I love doing. Not like doing, but love doing. Figure it out before the rollercoaster ride starts, and you’ll know what experiences to look out for and which ones to participate in.
Buy books only when you have to. They’re expensive, they’re heavy and they’re a pain to have when you’re moving. And most of the time, you might not need them. I bought a couple of the textbooks, for a number of reasons: Finance because I know I need to revisit that at one point because there’s no way that I could remember that all in one go, Strategy because I think that in my lifetime I will not be able to remember all 5 of Porter’s 5 Forces, Financial Accounting because I completely did not get it the first time round (and because it’s heavy enough to function as a doorstop) etc. Try out the books first by getting them from the library, and if you think they’re useful, only then buy them. Best place to buy books in London: online (obviously) and on Charing Cross Road at either Borders, Blackwells, or my favourite Foyles, who’ll all have discounts in September.
Don’t take too many electives. First year core courses are heavy, especially when you’re also looking for an internship, running around being involved with clubs etc. Think twice before taking more than one elective on top of your normal core curriculum. I thought twice, decided to take on two electives in Summer term, and struggled to cope with the workload (although I’m also glad I took both courses, they’re proving to come in handy now).
Have fun. Don’t forget to have fun. It’s only an MBA, it’s not real life. No one will get hurt if you pass a course with a B instead of an A (thanks to the wonders of grade nondisclosure). Enjoy everything that London has to offer. Go and travel, explore and remember there’s a whole world out there. Get to know people. Hang out. Read. Do nothing. And enjoy.