I had planned to write something more a bit earlier in the summer, but I'm happy I delayed long enough to have attended the ISM NY summer reception before "putting pen to paper." For me this casual get-together in a bar near Baruch College was "right on time" and amazing!
I am not as nervous about re-starting formal education this time as I was when I went for a Masters (that time also after a period away from school). I'm comfortable about doing the work. I've been a little unsettled, however, about the nature of the work itself. The MBA coursework was like college (or high school), which included a lot of reading, classes held in classrooms and points for class participation. I knew what I was walking into because I had been there before. The independent study and research components sounds interesting, but are somewhat intimidating. Also, I majored in Engineering and then in Finance. The longest papers I ever had to write (in ancillary courses, by the way, not my major) were 10 pages, double-spaced (large font). As I think about the requirements of the ISM courses, and the required dissertation at the end, a cold sweat makes me start to miss all those problem sets "back in the day."
The reception set me at ease. Justin Pace and Alison Knight met me at the door. They and Timur Pakay squired me about the room, making introductions to the range of ISM community in attendance. I met other new students, students a few years into their studies, students about to receive their degrees, and alums who had dropped by to say hello. Everyone was friendly, helpful, willing to share their own experiences with me and happy to give advice on managing the volume of the coursework while juggling the professional responsibilities that we all maintain while being students. I received several tips about discipline and time management.
Overall I came away from the session very comfortable about what I'm walking into in a few months, and also very comfortable that I'm joining a community of nice people who are having fun with this experience. I also came away with an expanded mindset and some new ideas about how I, personally, can make best use of this experience and how my degree may fit within my career. At the end of the evening Timur and I chatted about how much fun the session had been. I didn't quite go there at the time, but I would volunteer to help find ways to get people together often during the year. I recognize that it's harder to organize than it looks, but the chance to interact with such a diverse group involved in so many different walks of life could become an invaluable part of my ISM experience.