*Recently isted as one of the top MBA Students in the country by Poets & Quants, recent Krannert MBA alumnus Adam Ruri shares some key pieces of advice for incoming students.*
I heard a poignant story about privilege. A teacher provided each student in his class with a piece of paper, told them to crumple the paper into a ball and offered a “Snickers” chocolate bar to anyone who was able to shoot his or her ball into a trash can at the very front of the room. There was one catch--the students had to shoot from where they were sitting in the lecture hall. Obviously, the students who sat toward the front of the class had the best opportunity to receive the prize. They had the most privilege.
The students who sat at the back? Well, tough luck.
Although this particular anecdote was shared as part of a Toastmasters speech competition, I was drawn to the story’s application in a business school setting. I’ve learned quite a bit about privilege since joining Krannert’s MBA program. And, more particularly, I’ve learned how to make the most of it. Figuratively, I’ve learned what it means to ‘sit toward the front of the class.’
Personally, I don’t believe that capitalizing on one’s privileges in business school is limited to seat availability--it is certainly not synonymous with Social Darwinism. If you choose, anyone in Krannert can ‘sit toward the front of the class.’ The trick, in my view, is understanding which ‘class’ you’d like to sit in.
Beyond the informative and enlightening MBA courses offered at Krannert, I walked into Rawls Hall with a goal of experiencing business school. I wanted to expand my network. I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to grow.
I may not have a perfect GPA, but I can confidently say that I have succeeded in accomplishing the goals I set for myself in business school. I have definitely experienced Krannert. I’ve expanded my network internationally, functionally and across industries and companies. I’ve been challenged in ways that I hadn’t imagined possible. Although some of these experiences have meant hard work or disappointing results, they’ve culminated in growth that has forever changed me as a leader and follower.
Here are some of the highlights from my experience and a few words of advice:
1) Get involved: A pivotal part of my business school experience has been involvement. Not being afraid to “be myself” and run for office on the platform of a pop song or taking risks on events that did or did not pay off are all part of it. The bulk of my involvement has been with the Krannert Graduate Student Association (KGSA), and that experience stretched me. Figuratively, I fell down more often than I’d like to admit. But, isn’t that what coming to business school is all about? Making those mistakes now, so that you make less mistakes when you enter the workforce? I think so.
2) Take Opportunities: Krannert provided so many opportunities for me to break outside of myself. As a bright-eyed student in my first year, I participated in the National Energy Finance Case Competition in Austin. I had minimal experience with the energy industry and little interest in pursuing a finance emphasis, but I wanted to experience a case competition. Our fledgling team lost. However, I gained so much from this opportunity. I learned how to work with people from different cultural, social and functional backgrounds. From other case competition teams, I learned how to structure my case analysis and sell my team’s “story.” I used principles I learned in case competitions throughout the rest of my academic coursework.
3) Expand Your Network: Before students begin to “network,” they absolutely need to know what that means. Meeting people and immediately asking for a job isn’t networking, in my opinion. However, being open-minded and being willing to listen is a start. When I went on the Krannert sponsored City Trek to Seattle and Portland, I didn’t think I wanted to work for the majority of the companies we visited. However, as I listened to alumni and recruiters, I saw the strengths of these companies and really enjoyed the experience. As students, I felt like we were given backstage passes to companies like Nike, Starbucks, Intel and Zillow. Listening goes a long way when you’re looking to expand your network.
As I look back on an amazing two years here at Krannert, I cannot help but feel honored and humbled by the many “privileges” I was given. But, most importantly, I’m grateful for the people I met and the friends I’ve gained at Purdue. They’ve really made my experience. Thank you for all that you have done for me and the program.
In closing, I want to share a proverb from the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand that I was recently reminded of: “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”
Translation: “What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.”
2nd Year MBA Student